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Leadership TASB Continues Legacy of Learning

Photo from Leadership TASB's early years.

Back in 1990, when then-TASB Board President Patti Clapp started thinking about creating a leadership training program for trustees to “go above and beyond their basic board training,” she had no idea she was launching a program that would have a ripple effect in the lives of trustees, their students, and their communities.

In its more than 30 years, Leadership TASB has touched the lives of nearly 1,000 board members from across Texas — and it soon will top that number in the coming year. Through the years, Clapp has excitedly watched the program grow. And she never tires of hearing from school board members who have participated in LTASB, each sharing the positive and lasting impact it has had on their lives and their work.

“I love the results of Leadership TASB,” Clapp said. “I think it helps our trustees from across the state kind of take their blinders off on their school districts, and they get to see what other school districts are doing; they get to learn from other trustees in those districts, see pilot projects so they can bring back good ideas to their districts. I just think it’s a wonderful communication tool. ... When we started it, we thought it was a great idea, but I don’t know that we realized the impact it would have on trustees across the state.”

Founding the Future

LTASB was the brainchild of Clapp who, with an advisory committee formed in July 1991, developed the program. It took years of planning and discussion before the first cohort gathered in 1993.

At its founding, Clapp said, “There exists a need to develop board members as true trustees, ones who accept the responsibility to look at the big picture, to be aware of how their decisions affect other districts in the state. TASB can assist by developing a vehicle to provide a cadre of leaders who have a shared vision for education improvement for all children.”

Since its founding, school board members accepted into LTASB have honed their leadership skills, expanded their board governance knowledge, and built lifelong friendships with trustees from across the state.

“LTASB is an outstanding training program for school board members who are dedicated to serving their school districts,” said Dan Troxell, TASB executive director. “Not only do trustees gain a deeper understanding of board governance, but they also have the chance to network with board members from across the state. These trustees are in the trenches together. They begin to build lifelong friendships that are invaluable, and through these relationships, they also gain insights into both the challenges experienced and opportunities available to districts.”

Cohorts Continue

Since its inception, LTASB has been geared toward experienced board members who want to learn more about governance and advocacy. Each year, a cohort of up to 36 experienced board members from districts of all sizes and locations across the state are accepted into the program. Trustees are selected based on their demonstrated leadership in their local district and communities and other factors. Those participating in an LTASB cohort commit to the traditionally year-long program, which consists of five sessions held at locations around the state that vary year to year, with each trip lasting several days. Trustees meet with local school and government officials, tour schools, and learn about innovative programs while also working on a capstone project.

Robert Long III, division director of Board Development Services, is the current LTASB program manager. Long said that while there is a lot of behind-the-scenes planning needed to coordinate the LTASB site visits, watching the board members have lightbulb moments makes all the effort worth it.

“The field trips are really critical to trustees having boots on the ground to see and experience what is happening at districts across the state,” Long said. “It’s during these times when discussions take place, ideas are shared, and growth occurs. These trips are when friendships are forged, and strong ties are created. That is at the heart of LTASB. Those who participate have a deep and abiding love for the program, and that continues to show up in the work these board members continue to do.”

Lifelong Learning

Back in 1993, David Sublasky was a Fabens ISD trustee and a member of the first LTASB cohort. At that time, his district was the 14th poorest in the state and desperately needed support, he said, adding that unlike his board, other districts had the funds to provide for their needs.

“When we all came together, it was an opportunity to listen and understand,” Sublasky said. “Because folks had more than Fabens, they didn’t exactly know what they had. Those folks began to understand how desperate we were.”

Sublasky would go on to serve 22 years on the Fabens ISD board, 11 of those as president, and during his local tenure, he was elected to the TASB Board, serving from 1992 to 1998. He is also a TASB past president and currently serves as the education service center representative on the TASB Board of Directors. In addition, he is president of the Texas Association of Education Service Centers and has served for 23 years on the Region 19 ESC board.

He acknowledges that traveling to different locations across the state for site visits wasn’t just a fun trip; it was hard work. Each trustee had their own unique experience, with each person taking away something different, he said.

“It’s a challenging time, an opportunity to get down and work and grow,” Sublasky said. “I believe that’s the reason why people continue to want to learn and grow. You may have graduated with a ‘Master Trustee,’ but you never learned it all. It really is something you have to continue to work on.”

LTASB accepts applications from trustees interested in the leadership program from May 1 to July 1. The next LTASB cohort will kick off Sept. 27-29 in San Antonio during txEDCON24. For more information, email

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Mary Ann Lopez
Senior Communications Specialist

Mary Ann Lopez is a senior communications specialist for TASB.