It is impossible to begin any dialogue today around racial equity without addressing the recent senseless mass shooting at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This tragedy has once again rocked the nation’s social consciousness and sparked passionate discussions in communities across the country. It has also reaffirmed the NYC Leadership Academy (NYCLA)’s commitment to social justice, which underpins our daily collaborations with educational leaders.

At NYCLA, we recognize that conversation about racial injustice is the first step in creating an equitable society. We also recognize that for societal change to occur, passion must somehow lead to action. As such we are focused on addressing two fundamental questions:

  1. How do schools ensure that all students are provided with a quality education, regardless of factors such as race or socioeconomic status?In a recent blog post, Irma Zardoya, NYCLA President & CEO, examines effective leadership practice and the impact it has on students. Irma describes the work of Reginald Higgins, New York City public school Principal and a graduate of NYCLA’s Aspiring Principals Program. Reggie saved his predominately African American school from closure by focusing on the four R’s: (1) Rethinking staff expectations, (2) Rethinking schedules, (3) Respecting Parents, and (4) Role models.Schools are one of the most important places whose leaders can change the tide of race, gender, ethnic and class inequities so that each human being is seen as equal and in possession of inalienable rights. Students can’t afford any more lost time and opportunity. Click here to read the full article.
  2. How do schools and their districts respond effectively in times of civil unrest and open up spaces of reflection and dialogue around race?NYCLA’s upcoming multi-district Foundations of Principal Supervision program will include a special opportunity to explore this question. Participants will react to a case study entitled, “Lesson from Ferguson: Leadership in Times of Civil Unrest.” The details of this case focus on the responses of three St. Louis County, Missouri school districts following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male, by a white police officer.This interactive session will be co-facilitated by: Veronica Benavides, one of the case study writers, who is pursuing a Harvard Graduate School of Education doctorate in educational leadership and is spending her residency at NYCLA; and, Liliana Polo-McKenna, NYCLA’s National Leadership Development Strategist. Participants will engage in both reflective and action-oriented conversations around the responsibilities of schools and districts to address race and respond to racialized events. To learn more about the case study and the work of Veronica and her NYCLA colleagues, click here.

NYCLA is committed to infusing one of our core beliefs — maintaining a persistent and systemic focus on equity, diversity and social justice – in everything we do. Students throughout this country are depending on their educational leaders to possess the courage to take the actions needed for change to take place.


Verta Maloney


Verta joined the The Leadership Academy in 2018. Prior to that, she designed, managed, and delivered professional learning experiences and programs for sitting and aspiring school leaders at UnboundEd and New Leaders. Verta began her 20-year career in education as a teacher in Prince George’s County Public Schools, and then as a literacy specialist for the New York City Department of Education. She was principal of Bronx Arts for five years and served for several years as a leadership coach for principals and residents at New Leaders. Verta has a B.S. in communications and middle school education from James Madison University, and an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University.