NYC Leadership Academy and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, have teamed up to launch a new professional learning program for educators aspiring to become superintendents. Equity Leadership Institute: A Program for Aspiring Superintendents aims to strengthen public school district leadership through a focus on dismantling inequities in schools.

Led by a team of educational leadership experts, the program offers a unique learning experience to a national cadre of highly motivated educational leaders committed to equity. It also provides sitting superintendents a chance to nominate, support, and develop their top-performing leaders, and to engage in a formal mentorship process for aspiring superintendents. The process includes supporting the participants in leading an equity-focused initiative or district challenge in the form of a capstone project supported by national experts.

The program will be facilitated by Michele Shannon, former Boston chief of schools; Gloria Buckery, former New York City superintendent; and Leadership Academy Superintendents-in-Residence Ann Clark, former Charlotte-Mecklenburg superintendent and a mentor for AASA, and Valeria Silva, former Saint Paul Public Schools superintendent and AASA Superintendent in Residence.  Graduates of the program will earn an AASA/NYCLA Aspiring Superintendent Certification.

“Districts across the country are grappling with the fact that some students, particularly students of color, do not have access to the learning opportunities they need to excel,” said Leadership Academy President & CEO Irma Zardoya. “This partnership with AASA is an invaluable opportunity to prepare the next generation of district leaders to identify and close those gaps, and to create a bench of high performing leaders for sustainability across school districts.”

“AASA is committed to developing and supporting leaders committed to addressing issues of equity throughout our country. This Institute, unique in its focus and exceptional in its approach, offers participants the opportunity to learn from national experts, from one another, and to create action based research which will impact the work on their home districts and may serve as models for others,” said Mort Sherman, AASA Associate Director for Leadership Services.

Over the course of the 12-month blended (2 in-person, 5 virtual) leadership development program, to begin in February of 2019, participants will:

  • Learn and practice what a superintendent needs to know and do, with a focus on equity
  • Complete a Capstone Project focused on an equity-related problem of practice in their home district
  • Grow as a leader with support from Leadership Academy Superintendents-in-Residence Ann Clark and Valeria Silva
  • Benefit from the support of their current superintendent as a mentor

For more information and to register, candidates can go to


About the facilitators

Michele Shannon, National Leadership Facilitator, NYC Leadership Academy. Dr. Shannon has spent her life dedicated to public education as a lever for equity and social change. Most recently, she served as the Chief of Schools for Boston Public Schools and the Sr. Director of Administrator Development for Los Angeles Unified School District. She has served as a teacher, social worker, assistant principal, and principal in the NYC Department of Education. She is currently coach and teacher at the Data Wise Project at Harvard. She leverages all these experiences to design and deliver meaningful programs for school and system leaders.

Gloria Buckery, Coach and Facilitator, NYC Leadership Academy. A coach and facilitator with the Leadership Academy since 2006, Gloria works with novice or early-career principals and designs and facilitates workshops for large and small groups of administrators and staff.  Prior to joining the Leadership Academy, Gloria was a New York City-wide Regional Superintendent responsible for Pre-K to 12th grade students in 110 schools. She also served as a teacher, staff developer, assistant principal, and principal over her 37-year career with the NYC Department of Education. She is a recipient of the Shirley Chisholm Leadership Award.

Ann Blakeney Clark, Superintendent in Residence. Ann Clark is a highly accomplished education leader known for her bold approach to advancing equity for all students. She currently provides professional development, coaching, and strategic support to sitting and aspiring superintendents and educational leaders. Ann is a former superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina where she implemented a leadership reform strategy and led equity innovations to increase academic opportunities and break up concentrations of disadvantage. Ann’s extensive 34-year career at CMS began as a teacher of behaviorally and emotionally handicapped children, and grew to include principal, regional superintendent, associate superintendent of education services, chief academic officer, and deputy superintendent.

Valeria Silva, Superintendent in Residence. Valeria Silva is a visionary education leader with a proven commitment to equity for all students. She provides professional development, coaching, mentorship, and strategic support to sitting and aspiring superintendents and educational leaders. Valeria is a former superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools (SPSS), a district she served for 30 years at almost every level in the organization. During her seven years as superintendent she made racial equity the foundation for the district’s Strong Schools, Strong Communities strategic plan. In 2013 she was elected Chair of the Council of the Great City Schools where she led the charge on the Council’s commitment to address racial equity issues. In 2017 the Council of Great City Schools created a Valeria Silva Award for Outstanding Contribution for English Language Learners Achievement.

About NYC Leadership Academy

NYC Leadership Academy is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that builds the capacity of educational leaders, at every level of the system, to confront inequities and create the conditions necessary for all students to thrive. Since 2003, NYCLA has worked with educators in 150 school districts, state education departments, and education organizations across 32 states, Washington, D.C., and two countries.

About AASA, The School Superintendents Association

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to advocate for equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education, and develop and support school system leaders.


Contact: Jill Grossman