Breakaway Leadership is a six-month leadership development program intended to help campus and district leaders learn new habits and skills that will enable them to perform at the highest levels of leadership 24/7, setting themselves apart from other leaders.
Topics include mental health, social-emotional health, stress management, sleep, time management, weight management, exercise, and how each area affects participants’ leadership capacity.
Sessions are mostly virtual, with a special in-person breakout session at the TASA Midwinter Conference and a final in-person closing luncheon at TASA txedFest in June. The 2023 cohort is underway; the 2024 cohort will begin next January. Download a PDF flier.
2023 Breakaway Leadership Program
Who Should Participate
Breakaway Leadership was designed for Texas campus and district leaders who want to learn skills and habits to set them apart from other leaders. By focusing on developing and improving all aspects of their well-being – mental, social-emotional, physical – participants will come to the leadership table with a level of fitness that enables them to lead from a position of strength and clarity – all day every day.
Physical Exam Recommended
Participants will be asked to schedule and complete a full physical check-up with their personal physician before Session 1 of the program in January 2023. Participants will use this information to set personal, confidential wellness goals.
All School Leaders Welcome
The 2023 program is open to all campus and district leaders! If you are an assistant principal, principal, central office administrator, assistant / associate / deputy superintendent, or superintendent, Breakaway Leadership is for you!
|Do you have access to Wondr Health through your district?||TASA Member Rate||Non-member Rate|
*Rate is limited to districts on a confirmed list of Wondr Health subscribers. The Alvin, Austin, Coppell, East Central, Harlingen, Highland Park (10), Lubbock, Lytle, New Caney, North East, Ponder, Scurry-Rosser, and Shepherd school districts are all confirmed subscribers. If you are in one of these districts, please contact your HR department for instructions on how to access the program, which will be used throughout Breakaway Leadership.
The registration fee includes participation in six virtual sessions as well as an in-person session at the 2023 Midwinter Conference and a luncheon at TASA txedFest in June 2023. TASA Midwinter Conference and TASA txedFest conference registration must be purchased separately.
Speakers & Topics
Each session will feature nationally recognized speakers (one addressing health/wellness and the other focused on leadership issues) and focus on a theme/topic intended to inspire participants to reflect and change behaviors, as well as accountability group conversations designed to support individual success.
Scott Conard, M.D.
Dr. Scott Conard is a practicing family physician who is passionate about transforming healthcare to provide more convenience, increase access, significantly improve quality, and lower cost. He believes that challenges can be best met with innovation, technology, and accountability, and that “greater convenience, increased access, higher quality, and lower costs” are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the surest path to reduced costs lies in a better model of care that embraces preventative care, early detection, excellence in management of known conditions, and improved behaviors.
As a medical director for corporations and benefit coalitions, his experience in medicine, corporate leadership, and healthcare allows him to create the strategic plan and serve as the accountability “agent,” leveraging this deep understanding as an integrator of effective interventions. His work in patient engagement has led to the development of a new model for chronic care management, building knowledge and skills, resulting in better health outcomes.
Conard believes that every company has a unique culture and needs that create opportunities to achieve significant improvement in health and lower costs.
Kevin Gilliland, Psy.D.
Kevin Gilliland is a clinical psychologist with a broad range of healthcare experience in business, treatment, and research. His business experience has included managed care (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Magellan Behavioral Health) and the pharmaceutical industry (Johnson & Johnson, Cephalon). Clinically, he has participated as a sub-investigator on three phase III pharmaceutical studies and overseen the development and expansion of multiple outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatments.
He has a diverse range of expertise and experience presenting on mental health and its relationship to physical health and work performance. Gilliland has presented to a diverse group of corporations – multiple Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, Google, AT&T, United Airlines – as well as a diverse group of professionals – physician groups on opioid addiction, school superintendents, and keynote presentations for annual conferences.
Gilliland also has a unique ability to discuss complex research topics in a manner that resonates with the broader public and is part of the People Magazine Health Squad, Men’s Health Advisory Group, and a frequent guest on local and national television, and radio.
After working more than two decades in healthcare, Gilliland started an outpatient healthcare treatment company, Innovation 360, that specializes in mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse and addiction. He has served as an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and Cooper Wellness Center.
Dana Labat, Ph.D.
Dr. Dana B. Labat is a practicing clinical psychologist in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is also licensed to practice psychology in Texas.
Her areas of specialty include: supporting adolescents and adults with everyday life stressors, such as anxiety and depression; women’s emotional health across the lifespan including reproductive health; and pregnancy loss. She also partners with women and adolescents who are coping with disordered eating patterns and clinically diagnosed eating disorders, and she assists couples in their search for improved communication and connection.
Additionally, in Labat’s private practice, she conducts psychological and psychoeducational assessment to determine learning differences, attention-related difficulties, and to clarify diagnoses. She also collaborates with Wondr Health as a team member to support content development and deliver participant content to its participants across the country via its digital media platform.
Scott McClelland is the president of H-E-B Food/Drug Stores, a $25 billion retailer that operates 390 stores in Texas and Mexico.
Under his leadership, H-E-B grew from an 11% market share to a 27% market-leading share by opening larger stores with a heavy emphasis on low prices and locally sourced products, with a tailored assortment based on the neighborhoods around each store. Known as the “H-E-B Guy,” McClelland is the local face for H-E-B, starring in TV commercials along with J.J. Watt, Craig Biggio, and other local notables.
H-E-B strives to be a good corporate citizen, and as such, McClelland serves on numerous boards. In 2017 McClelland co-founded an education based nonprofit called Good Reason that is focused on improving education for ALL students across Harris County, from cradle to career, by eliminating achievement gaps.
McClelland received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California and graduated from Harvard’s Advanced Management Program.
Tedd Mitchell, M.D.
Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell was named the fifth chancellor of the Texas Tech University System in October 2018.
As chancellor, Mitchell is the CEO of a $2.5 billion, five-university higher education enterprise consisting of Texas Tech University (TTU), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), Angelo State University (ASU), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), and Midwestern State University (MSU Texas).
Collectively, the TTU System enrolls more than 63,000 students, has an endowment valued at more than $1.7 billion and operates at 24 academic locations in 21 cities (19 in Texas, 2 internationally).
Mitchell works collaboratively with the TTU System Board of Regents, TTU System Administration and university presidents to enhance the TTU System’s profile and support shared missions of advancing higher education, health care, research and community outreach. Additionally, Mitchell guides the TTU System’s engagement with elected officials in Austin and federal leaders in Washington, D.C., to further increase funding and support.
Mitchell first joined the TTU System when he was named the eighth president of TTUHSC in May 2010. He held a dual appointment as chancellor and president for approximately one year until deciding to close his presidential tenure in 2019 after nearly a decade at the helm of TTUHSC. He is the longest-tenured president in the 52-year history of the university and led the institution to monumental milestones, record growth in enrollment, academic excellence and physical campus expansion.
Prior to arriving at TTUHSC, Mitchell served as president and CEO of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, an internationally recognized center of excellence in preventive and sports medicine. Mitchell earned a Bachelor of Science at Stephen F. Austin State University in 1983. He is an Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he received his Doctor of Medicine in 1987, and, in 2012, he was honored as a distinguished alumnus of the Department of Internal Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Sports Medicine. From 1988 to 1996, he served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves (Medical Corps).
James O’Keefe, M.D.
Dr. James H. O’Keefe is a cardiologist and the medical director of the Charles and Barbara Duboc Cardio Health & Wellness Center at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. He is also a Professor of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
His postgraduate training includes a cardiology fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. O’Keefe is board-certified in cardiology, internal medicine, nuclear cardiology, and cardiac CT imaging.
He is consistently ranked among the regional ‘Top Doctor’ lists and has been named as one of USA Today’s Most Influential Doctors. O’Keefe has contributed more than 250 articles to medical literature and has authored best-selling cardiovascular books for health professionals including: The Complete Guide to ECGs, Dyslipidemia Essentials, and Diabetes Essentials.
He lectures extensively on the role of therapeutic lifestyle changes and drug therapy in cardiovascular risk reduction. O’Keefe has co-authored, with his wife Joan, the best-selling consumer health book, The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle. He is actively involved in patient care and research.
Jill Siler, Ed.D.
Dr. Jill Siler served as the superintendent of Gunter ISD for nearly 10 years and now serves as TASA’s deputy executive director for Professional Learning.
Siler grew up in Rochester and Buffalo, New York, and completed her undergraduate work at the University of Pittsburgh, where she was a collegiate swimmer. She was a teacher and coach in Pflugerville ISD before beginning her administrative career in Marble Falls ISD. In 2004, she moved to Lake Travis ISD, where she served as a campus and district leader for eight years. During that time, she completed her doctorate at the University of Texas.
In her first months as a superintendent, Jill faced financial crisis along with many other challenges that leadership brings. In 2015, her school board was named a TASA Honor Board (as one of the top five school boards in the state), and one of her campuses was named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.
Prior to joining the TASA staff, Siler chaired TASA’s Future-Ready Superintendent Leadership Network (FRSLN) Design Team, which brings together innovative leaders from across the state to learn, share, and grow together. She was also a member of the TASA 2025 Task Force, which helped launch the redesign of TASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy.
Jill has a passion for helping others reach their goals and has been a frequent speaker at leadership and teacher conferences across the country. In 2020, she released her first book, Thrive Through The Five: Practical Truths to Powerfully Lead through Challenging Times, which was the #1 Bestselling New Release for Education Administration books and has hit the Top 10 Education Leadership books multiple times since its release. In 2021, Thrive Through the Five was honored with four Eric Hoffer Awards, including Reference Category Winner and Montaigne Medal finalist.
Michael Sorrell, Ed.D.
Dr. Michael Sorrell is the longest-serving president in the 148-year history of Paul Quinn College, an HBCU in Dallas. He is one of the most decorated college presidents in America.
Sorrell has been named one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine; is the only three-time recipient of the HBCU Male President of the Year Award (2018, 2016, and 2012); and Time Magazine listed him as one of the “31 People Changing the South.”
Sorrell received his J.D. and M.A. in public policy from Duke University and his Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. While in law school, he was one of the founding members of the Journal of Gender Law & Policy and served as the vice president of the Duke Bar Association. He graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in government, was a two-time captain of the men’s varsity basketball team, and graduated as the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer.
Lt. Col. (retired) David Yebra leads the Training and Leader Development Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and has done so since January 2019.
Prior to that, he served as the director of emergency management at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, where his responsibilities included emergency preparedness for the university and facilitating the High Potential Leadership Academy and other law enforcement leadership development programs.
Yebra served in the U.S. Army for more than 23 years, including three tours in Iraq, before retiring in 2013. At West Point, he served as a company tactical officer and operations officer for the Corps of Cadets. In 2009 he became the professor of military science for the ROTC program at Sam Houston State University and served as a guest instructor for incoming military science faculty.
Yebra lectures on leadership development topics at universities, conventions, and before professional organizations all over the country and the world.
He received his bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and earned a master’s degree in leadership development from Long Island University.
Todd Whitthorne, B.S.
Program Moderator & Speaker
Todd Whitthorne is recognized as one of the country’s leading public speakers regarding health, well-being, and productivity. He’s also the author of Fit Happens! Simple Steps for a Healthier, More Productive Life!
Whitthorne has a particular interest in those who serve in public education. Since 2009, he has delivered multiple presentations for TASA, Texas ESCs, and individual districts. He serves as the chief inspiration officer for Wondr Health, a Dallas-based company dedicated to improving the health and productivity of organizations nationwide. The company currently serves more than 800 clients and positively impacts over 250,000 lives annually.
Prior to joining Wondr in 2013, Todd spent 14 years as a senior executive at The Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. The Emmy award-winning broadcaster is an honors graduate of UCLA with a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology and exercise physiology.
Charles Dupre, CPA, Ed.D.
Dr. Charles Dupre joined the full-time TASA staff as deputy executive director, Member Engagement and Support, in fall 2021.
Prior to that, Dupre served as superintendent of both Pflugerville and Fort Bend ISDs. Under his leadership from 2013 to 2021, FBISD saw notable growth in student achievement and increased opportunities for all students, including traditionally underrepresented groups. In 2018, the district was awarded the H-E-B Excellence in Education Award as the best school district in the large district category, and Dupre was named the Region 4 Superintendent of the Year and finalist for Texas Superintendent of the Year in 2019. While serving in Pflugerville ISD in 2012, he was named the Region 13 Superintendent of the Year and was chosen as a finalist for Texas Superintendent of the Year.
Dupre received his BBA with a major in Accounting from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and his master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Houston. He received his doctorate in educational leadership from Lamar University in Beaumont.
Timeline of Sessions & Events
Breakaway Leadership’s format is hybrid, with both virtual and in-person sessions.
Mon, Jan 16, 2023
Participants begin Wondr Health curriculum
All participants will be provided with access to Wondr Health, a 52-week virtual wellness program, though they may wish to begin participating following Session 1 of Breakaway Leadership. Wondr Health is research-based, engaging, and proven to be extremely effective.
Thurs, Jan 19, 2023
Session 1 (Virtual) | 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Mon, Jan 30, and Tues, Jan 31, 2023
Breakout Session at TASA Midwinter Conference (In-person)
Breakaway Leadership participants are invited to participate in a breakout session offered during the TASA Midwinter Conference, to be held in Austin January 29-February 1, 2023.
We will check in on progress and discuss early successes, early challenges, and keys to success in the program. Participants will also be encouraged to meet others and form small breakout, accountability groups to support their success. Participants should plan to attend one of the following conference sessions (both sessions will include the same content):
- Monday, January 30, 1-2 p.m., Austin Convention Center Room 9C
- Tuesday, January 31, 1-2 p.m., Austin Convention Center Room 9C
Thurs, Feb 9, 2023
Session 2 (Virtual) | 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Thurs, March 9, 2023
Session 3 (Virtual) | 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Thurs, April 20, 2023
Session 4 (Virtual) | 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Thurs, May 11, 2023
Session 5 (Virtual) | 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Thurs, June 8, 2023
Session 6 (Virtual) | 8:30-10:30 a.m.
What People are Saying About the Program
Comments from Cohort 1 Members:
The program has saved me, and losing the extra 30 pounds has allowed me to move further into a more impressive job. I am still using the skills learned and will try and navigate my life with the skills learned. My biggest take away is to put my health first so I can give to my stakeholders.
This is my second time through the Wondr Health program. I’m still using the program and still find it very valuable. Mostly, I have found that it has been successful in changing my habits for the long term, and it provides just the right amount of accountability and reminders to help keep me connected and on track with my health and wellness goals.
I think this has been a great program, and I hope that more leaders will take advantage of this benefit going forward. I also hope our cohort can continue to follow up in subsequent years.
In this video, Breakaway Leadership moderators Charles Dupre and Todd Whitthorne discuss why they’re excited about the program and how it can benefit Texas school leaders.
How Can Breakaway Leadership Benefit Your Team?
In this video, Rory Gesch talks about how his Alvin ISD team has benefited from participating in Cohort 1 of Breakaway Leadership. Gesch is deputy superintendent of operations in Alvin ISD.
How Can Breakaway Leadership Benefit You Personally?
In this video, Rory Gesch talks about how he has personally benefited from participating in Cohort 1 of Breakaway Leadership. Hint: He’s lost 70-plus pounds!
In this video, Terrell ISD Superintendent Georgeanne Warnock shares how her participation in Breakaway Leadership has helped her improve her overall well-being so that she can be a better leader.
In this video, PSJA ISD Superintendent Jorge Arredondo talks about the importance of professional development that supports leader wellness and shares how his participation in Breakaway Leadership has helped him be a better leader.
In this video, Lytle ISD Superintendent Michelle Carroll Smith shares how TASA’s Breakaway Leadership program has helped her as a school leader and as a person.
2023 Cohort is Under Way!
Interested in joining Breakaway Leadership Cohort 3?
Look for details on the 2024 cohort in TASA Daily in fall/winter 2023.
Breakaway Leadership offers up to 12 hours
of Continuing Professional Education credit.
Executive Assistant, Member Engagement & Support