AGB Opens Registration for Three Flagship 2021 Conferences

The Foundation Leadership Forum, Board Professionals Conference, and National Conference on Trusteeship Will Focus on Embracing Transformative Change

By AGB October 1, 2020 October 15th, 2020 Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Morgan Alexander

WASHINGTON, DC (October 1, 2020)—The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), the premier organization representing higher education governance, has officially opened registration for its three flagship events in 2021: the Foundation Leadership Forum, the Board Professionals Conference, and the National Conference on Trusteeship. Against a tumultuous backdrop of uncertainty and change, this critical time for higher education compels college, university, and foundation leaders to gather, hear from experts, and discuss best practices for addressing the future of the sector.

Given global health and safety concerns, institutional travel restrictions, and member financial challenges, serving members in this new environment calls for a reimagining of the typical conference setting. Taking advantage of new technology and expert advice, AGB will use a trusted virtual conference platform to create a truly interactive conference-type experience, with opportunities to learn, network, and share with colleagues in a digital setting. All three conferences will have robust communications tools and dedicated time to connect with peers, conference speakers, and AGB expert consultants and staff.

“When the coronavirus struck the United States, AGB quickly pivoted to a remote national conference in April 2020. For this next year, we want to transform the online conference into something that rivals in-person experiences. In some ways, we think it can be better,” said Robert Waters, AGB vice president for experiential programming and partnerships. “These types of events, ones that don’t require time or dollars for travel, mean that attendees who never could have participated before can do so now, digitally. We’re looking forward to making the most of this opportunity to benefit our members.”

The themes and many of the sessions at each conference will be dedicated to change and transformation—a key topic for many AGB members as they address not only the coronavirus epidemic, but growing financial uncertainty, outdated business models, social justice initiatives, and new government regulations.

  • The Foundation Leadership Forum (Jan. 25–27), celebrating its 25th year, is designed for the board members and senior leaders of institutionally related foundations to learn and share insights and best practice from experts and with peers. This year’s conference theme is “Fast Forward: Accelerate Transformative Change.” The opening plenary, titled “The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Foundations,” will be moderated by Liz McMillen, executive editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and feature Brandon Busteed, president, Kaplan University Partners; Kent Fuchs, president, University of Florida; Patrick Methvin, director of postsecondary success in the United States program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Devona Williams, chair of the board of trustees and foundation board of trustees, Delaware State University.
  • The Board Professionals Conference (April 6–8), formerly the Workshop for Board Professionals, has been renamed to reflect a new, more comprehensive format that better aligns with the needs of today’s board professionals. It is one of the only conferences of its kind to cater to those important individuals who staff boards of trustees. AGB, in conjunction with the Board Professionals Leadership Group, is building an event that includes important conversations about declining enrollments, increasing expenses, and other issues that boards will need support to address.
  • The National Conference on Trusteeship (April 12–14) is the largest gathering of higher education board governance in the country. The theme of the conference is “Breakthrough,” and many of the sessions will focus on upending the status quo, driving transformations to forge something stronger and more resilient. Plenary session topics include racial equality on campus, using the board to support innovation, and addressing higher education business models. The National Conference will kick off AGB’s celebration of its 100th anniversary.

Shauna Ryder Diggs, chair of the AGB Board of Directors and a regent of the University of Michigan, expects crucial conversations to take place at these events. “I am encouraging my colleagues to attend one or more of these conferences. The coronavirus has accelerated disruption of higher education, and many board members, presidents, and other leaders are learning and adapting in real time. These conferences are a chance to discover creative solutions to problems we’re facing—the chance to share what’s worked and what hasn’t, and to chart the path forward with leading minds of higher education governance,” she said.

“Personally, I am excited for the opportunity to demonstrate AGB’s innovation,” said Henry Stoever, AGB president and CEO. “I have heard from AGB members across the country who share my anticipation about this new format for our flagship events. We have been encouraging our members to rethink how they approach governance and leadership—and we are similarly rethinking how AGB serves its members. Our 2021 conferences will offer the very best programming and networking opportunities for higher education governing boards and executives while being more accessible and enabling more board members to attend due to the virtual aspect.”

More information for members of the media who wish to attend one or more of these conferences will be available at

About AGB
The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) is the premier membership organization that strengthens higher education governing boards and the strategic roles they serve within their organizations. Through our vast library of resources, educational events, and consulting services, and with nearly 100 years of experience, we empower 40,000 AGB members from more than 2,000 institutions and foundations to navigate complex issues, implement leading practices, streamline operations, and govern with confidence. AGB is the trusted resource for board members, chief executives, and key administrators on higher education governance and leadership.


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