Mission & Vision

“Our partnership with the Leadership Academy is helping us become a culturally-competent district equipped to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse student population.”

Minerva Spanner-Morrow, Chief Diversity Officer,
Hillsborough County Public Schools

Vision: We envision a nation where every school and school system is intentionally built to ensure children of every race, ethnicity, language, and other identity characteristics have what they need to achieve academic, social, and emotional success. 

Mission: We build the capacity of educational leaders at every level of the system to disrupt systemic inequities and create the conditions necessary for all students to thrive. 

Leadership Academy's History

The Leadership Academy started in 2003 with our groundbreaking, research-based Aspiring Principals Program, which trained close to 600 principals, most of them women and leaders of color, who have served in some of New York City’s schools most in need of support and change.

Seeing our initial success in New York City, school systems across the country began approaching us to help them develop leadership pipelines and strengthen leader practices.

Over the years, we have sharpened our focus on the “how” of dismantling systemic inequities in schools: culturally responsive leadership. We have supported thousands of leaders in more than 200 school systems and educational organizations across 36 states and Washington, D.C., and we continue to expand our reach. As we engage with so many diverse communities, our own work continuously strengthens while our mission remains constant: to develop great leaders committed to leading schools intentionally built to serve every child.

Our Leadership

Our decades of collective experience as district superintendents, principal supervisors, principals, and leadership coaches, all with expertise in and a deep commitment to disrupting inequities, enable us to support aspiring and sitting leaders striving to give each student access to the opportunities they need to thrive.

Nancy B. Gutiérrez, Ed.L.D.

President & CEO

Dr. Nancy B. Gutiérrez joined the The Leadership Academy in 2014 and was named President & CEO in July 2018. Nancy is a Fall 2019 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow and was named one of New York State’s 100 most powerful leaders in education by City & State NY in 2020. Nancy’s belief in education as a critical vehicle for equity and social justice has inspired her dedication to education. Growing up in a disenfranchised Latinx neighborhood in East San Jose, California, she witnessed first-hand the impact of limited resources and low expectations. Nancy began her career as a teacher and principal in her home community, where she was the founding principal of Renaissance Academy, the highest performing middle school in the district and a California Distinguished School. Achieving that success, she went on to lead an effort to turn around the district’s lowest performing middle school, located only two blocks from her childhood home. Nancy was named the UC Davis Rising Star and Association of California School Administrator’s Region 8 Middle School Principal of the Year in 2010. Since she joined the The Leadership Academy in August 2014, Nancy has led such accomplishments as launching the organization’s district leadership work, developing principal supervisor leadership standards and aligned curriculum and programming including the popular Foundations of Principal Supervision institute. Prior to working at the Leadership Academy, Nancy launched a program for executive leadership advancement for the New York City Department of Education that led to superintendent certification. Nancy is a graduate of the inaugural cohort of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) program where during her tenure she served as a Teaching Fellow for Harvard’s School Leadership Program, a mentor for Harvard’s Latino Leadership Initiative, and co-chair for Harvard’s Alumni of Color Conference. Nancy served on the national board of the Coalition of Essential Schools for more than a decade. She is an adjunct instructor at NYU and is a frequent speaker and instructor for the Harvard Principals’ Center institutes for School Turnaround Leaders, Urban School Leaders, and Race, Equity, Access, and Leadership. Nancy is on the Latinos for Education (L4E) teaching team, a graduate of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) Aspiring Superintendents Academy, and is a member of Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC) Board of Directors which aims to break through the polarizing divides that have consumed efforts to improve public education. Find Nancy on Twitter @nancybgutierrez or LinkedIn.

Mary Rice-Boothe, Ed.D.

Chief Access & Equity Officer

Mary Rice-Boothe, Ed.D., joined the The Leadership Academy in 2015 and currently serves as Chief Access & Equity Officer. In this role, she oversees The Leadership Academy’s internal and external equity strategy, design and collaboration, and ensures expanded access to our work through different learning systems. At The Leadership Academy, she has had the opportunity to  partner with school systems in Des Moines, IA; Hillsborough County, FL; and the state of Wisconsin to support them in implementing their equity policies. Mary has also supported the development of equity-focused resources for district-level leaders looking to name and dismantle the inequitable practices they are seeing at the school and district level. Mary came to The Leadership Academy with more than 20 years of experience in education as a teacher, principal, mentor, and coach. Before joining The Leadership Academy, she worked at New Leaders, a national non-profit organization, as Executive Director of Content and Assessment, leading the team that designed, developed, and delivered content and assessments for the organization. She began her career in education as an NYC Teaching Fellow in East Harlem and is also a member of The Leadership Academy’s APP Cohort 3. Mary is a certified Courageous Conversations about Race Affiliate and a certified Facilitative Leadership Trainer. She sits on the board of directors of Marathon Kids. Mary holds a BA in Metropolitan Studies from New York University, an MA in English and English Education from the City College of New York, and a Doctorate Degree in Leadership and Organizational Change at the University of Southern California. Mary lives in Austin, Texas, with her mom, husband, daughter and son.

Mary Jo Dunnington

Chief Strategic Partnerships & Communications Officer

Mary Jo joined the Leadership Academy in 2011 to help grow the organization’s national consulting practice, and now serves as Chief Strategic Partnerships and Communications Officer. In this role she oversees business and partnership development, as well as marketing and communications. Prior to joining the Leadership Academy, she served as Chief Operating Officer of the Partnership for New York City, which led the fundraising campaign that helped launch the Leadership Academy. Previously, she served as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at All Kinds of Minds, which provided training and tools for educators based on research from neuroscience on how people learn. Mary Jo began her career in education at the National Geographic Society, where she developed and implemented teacher training and outreach programs and facilitated the development of teacher leadership networks. Mary Jo has also focused on student learning as a mentor to students at the Young Women’s Leadership School in Harlem and at the Higher Achievement Program in Washington, D.C., and has taught both supplemental ESL and national high school civics classes. Mary Jo was a Morehead Scholar at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned both an MBA and an MA in Education from Stanford University.

Michelle Jarney

Chief Learning & Strategy Officer

Michelle joined the The Leadership Academy in 2004 and now serves as the organization’s Chief Learning & Strategy Officer. In that capacity, she spearheads the organization’s internal capacity building, ensuring organizational sustainability and growth. As one of the designers of the Leadership Academy’s signature coaching model, Michelle continues to implement direct service programs as well as facilitate capacity building for clients seeking to develop in-house expertise in leadership coaching. Additionally, she brings her extensive experience as a curriculum designer, facilitator, and consultant to a range of leadership development initiatives in districts throughout the country. Prior to her work with the Leadership Academy, Michelle was the Director of Education for the Union Square Partnership, where she developed an award-winning, public-private partnership that leveraged the resources of the private sector to support NYC public school students through innovative enrichment programs and career readiness opportunities. Michelle holds an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA from Union College. Having reveled in games and puzzles as a child, Michelle continues to take great (perhaps excessive) pride in her ability to complete the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.

Michele Shannon, Ed.L.D.

Executive Vice President of Client Services

Michele serves as Executive Vice President of Client Services. She has spent her life dedicated to public education as a lever for equity and social change. Michele has facilitated multi-district Leadership Academy programs including Foundations of Principal Supervision and Coaching for Equitable Practice and has served clients such as Clark County School District, NV, NYC Department of Education, Gwinnett County Public Schools, GA, Somerville Public Schools, MA, and the Nevada Department of Education. Before joining the Leadership Academy, Michele 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 been a teacher, school social worker, assistant principal, and principal in the New York City Department of Education. She founded Pathways College Preparatory School: A College Board School in Hollis, NY. While getting a doctorate at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011, she co-founded Pursue Excellence, an education reform organization dedicated to supporting schools and districts in their use of data to improve outcomes for students. Michele is a certified coach and teacher at the Data Wise Project at Harvard, and is the founder and principal consultant for Measure Excellence Consulting, which supports leaders, schools, and districts in their efforts to engage in continuous learning and improvement. Michele is a product of the New York City public education system from kindergarten through college. She received her Bachelors of Science in Sociology from Bernard Baruch College and a Masters of Social Work from Hunter College at the City University of New York. She has an advanced certificate in School Leadership from the New York City Leadership Academy. Michele received a doctorate in Educational Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013 and most recently received an advanced certificate in School District Leadership from Queens College, CUNY in 2015. Michele is married with 3 children and splits her time between Westford, MA, and Jamaica, NY. She loves spending quality time with her family and her special love, Gordy, the cutest shih-poo ever.

Meet Our People


The Leadership Academy staff are a diverse group of experts and innovators in our fields, able to use our deep experience to support educational leadership development.

Our team members have an average of 24 years of work experience in education. We are also dedicated to increasing the diversity of our team, which is 36% people of color and growing. Half of our organization’s leaders, including our CEO, are women of color.

Each member of our team is dedicated to the belief that every child and adult should receive what they need to achieve their potential, and that their race, culture, and other characteristics of their identify should not prevent access to opportunities and resources. We provide opportunities for our team members to develop and grow so that they can do their best work and in turn have a lasting impact on educational leaders and their students.

We recruit professionals who

  • bring diversity across race, gender, and culture to our team
  • share our deep commitment to our mission of ensuring that all children have access to the learning opportunities they need to excel
  • approach this work with urgency, enthusiasm, dedication, and creativity
  • thrive in a challenging and engaging environment
  • see the value in collaboration, flexibility, and reflection.

We prioritize finding the best candidates, whom we know do not always come from traditional backgrounds. If you are interested in a particular position but do not meet all of the listed qualifications, please still apply. If you have questions about your qualifications, feel free to contact us to discuss your application.

Career benefits

We provide a generous benefits package of up to 13 holidays, 29 paid vacation days, 7 sick days and fully covered medical/dental/vision plans.

Our recruitment process

All resumes and cover letters are carefully reviewed. Phone interviews are conducted with candidates whose resumes are most compatible with the position requirements. Invitations for in-person panel interviews are extended to those candidates who are determined to be most aligned with organizational requisites.

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