our 2021 Spotlights

Erica Keswin

Author, Workplace Strategist

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8 at 11:00am 

Re-Igniting and Re-Imagining Community Rituals


Rituals are critical components of cultivating, celebrating and affirming culture and community among students, faculty, and staff on boarding school campuses. The past 18 months have revealed a deep need for reestablishing these cherished rituals, but also giving careful consideration to rituals no longer productive and affirming.


Join Erica Keswin, celebrated author, speaker, and boarding school parent, to kick off TABS Conference with a discussion of her book, Rituals Roadmap, illustrating how boarding schools leaders can intentionally craft communities of engagement, commitment, belonging, and gratitude.



Erica Keswin is a workplace strategist who has worked for the past twenty years with some of the most iconic brands in the world as a consultant, speaker, writer, podcast host and professional dot-connector. Her first book Bring Your Human to Work: Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Design a Workplace That is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World, a Wall Street Journal bestseller in its first week, serves as a powerful guide to a workplace revolution that honors relationships and puts people first.


Erica’s next book, Rituals Roadmap: The Human Way to Transform Everyday Routines Into Workplace Magic (McGraw-Hill 2021) is the authoritative guide to workplace rituals and how they can transform any organization. With workplaces around the world moving to digital platforms in the midst of a global threat, rituals have never been more important to keep individuals and teams feeling psychologically safe and connected to their purpose.


In Erica’s game-changing keynotes—in person and virtually—she highlights how relationships are the most powerful driver of success for individuals and companies striving to attract and retain talent and loyal customers.


Leaving audiences deeply informed and engaged, she reveals her tried-and-true, human roadmap for people seeking a more meaningful and connected work life, and provides actionable insights on everything from how to cultivate a work culture of diversity and inclusion, to how to connect with customers in an authentic way. Most importantly, Erica teaches audiences how to bring their human to work even when they can’t go to work.


Erica’s work and insights can be seen in varied media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc, Quartz at Work, Huffington Post, O Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Mogul, and Conscious Company. She is also the founder of the Spaghetti Project, a platform devoted to sharing the science and stories of relationships at work.

Heather McGhee

Author, speaker, advocate
Graduate of The Bement school & Milton Academy


The Sum of Us: Cultivating Prosperous Boarding School Communities


Join this renowned economist and commentator for a discussion of her New York Times bestselling work, The Sum of Us, revelations about the devastating cost of racism and inequality for our entire society. She’ll share an actionable roadmap for creating communities of belonging on our boarding school campuses.



An expert on the American economy, Heather is one of the most brilliant and influential thinkers exploring inequality today. Both her viral TED talk and her instant New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us reveal the devastating true cost of racism—not just for people of color, but for everyone. Deeply stirring, intelligent, and compassionate, McGhee’s talk will offer us an actionable roadmap during one of the most critical—and most troubled—periods in history.


As the former president of the inequality-focused think tank Demos, McGhee has drafted legislation, testified before Congress, and become a regular contributor on shows like Meet the Press and Real Time with Bill Maher. She also led Demos’ own racial equity organizational transformation, resulting in a doubling of the organization’s racial diversity and growth across all measures of organizational impact.


McGhee’s riveting talks communicate this with passion and seriousness, “challenging the paradigm of racial competition in this country.” Racism doesn’t just hurt us on a personal level. It divides and alienates companies and their employees, employees and their clients, clients and brands. The trickledown, explains McGhee, is far-reaching. Her talks address this with clear takeaways, like how to make the process mission-critical, how to get buy-in from your teams, and how to do it all with joy.


McGhee holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. She is the Chair of the Board of Color of Change, the country’s largest online racial justice organization, and serves on multiple other boards of trustees, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Demos. 

John Palfrey

President, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation​

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12 at 12:30pm


A More Just, Verdant and Peaceful World: Leadership Signals for Boarding School Communities


Join MacArthur Foundation President and former Head of School John Palfrey for a discussion of the Foundation’s major areas of investment in the coming years and the inspiration and direction those focal points signal for boarding school leaders and communities in the coming decades.



John Palfrey is President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies with assets of approximately $7 billion, and offices in Chicago, New Delhi, and Abuja, Nigeria.


Palfrey is a well-respected educator, author, legal scholar, and innovator with expertise in how new media is changing learning, education, and other institutions. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a commitment to rigorous thinking, disruption, and creative solutions often made possible by technology, accessibility of information, and diversity and inclusion. Palfrey has extensive experience in social change spanning the education, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors.


Prior to joining the Foundation, Palfrey served as Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover, the only school of its kind to maintain need-blind admissions. During his tenure, the number of faculty members of color doubled, and the student body grew more diverse. He oversaw the creation of the Tang Institute at Andover, which seeks to reform and democratize excellent teaching and learning.


Palfrey was the Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School. In that role, he expanded the Library’s reach and services, finding innovative ways to use digital technologies to enhance the school’s scholarship and teaching.


From 2002 to 2008, Palfrey served as Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, which seeks to explore and understand cyberspace. He is founding board chair of the Digital Public Library of America, and is the former board chair of LRNG, a nonprofit launched and supported by MacArthur.


Palfrey has published extensively on how young people learn in a digital era, as well as the effects of new technologies on society at large. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Diversity and Free Expression in Education. A revised and expanded version of his book Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age, which he co-authored with Urs Gasser, was issued in 2016.


Palfrey serves on the board of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.


He holds a JD from Harvard Law School, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and an AB from Harvard College.