Twelve experts in educational leadership, equity, innovation, and technology are bringing their knowledge, experience, and insight to The Leadership Academy as members of its Expert Advisory Council. The Council members will serve as advisors to the organization, offering guidance on The Leadership Academy’s resources and helping to shape and influence its approach to solving critical issues in educational equity and leadership.

“These respected leaders share our commitment to addressing inequities so that every child is held to the highest academic standards and has every opportunity to thrive,” said The Leadership Academy’s President and Lead Executive Officer Nancy Gutiérrez. “I’m humbled by their willingness to partner with us and apply their real-world and professional experiences to our mission of creating culturally responsive schools and leaders at every level of the system.”

The members of The Leadership Academy’s Expert Advisory Council are:

  • Monique Darrisaw-Akil, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools, Uniondale Union Free School District, Uniondale, NY
  • Sonya Douglass, Ed.D., Professor of Education Leadership and Vice Chair, Department of Organization and Leadership; Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Kriste Dragon, CEO, Pahara Institute
  • Sharif El-Mekki, Founder & CEO, Center for Black Educator Development
  • David Flink, Co-Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer, Eye to Eye
  • Dr. Ann Ishimaru, Kerry & Linda Kinnger Endowed Chair and Professor of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy, College of Education, University of Washington
  • Eva Mejia, Ed.L.D., Executive Director, Learning & Work, IDEO
  • Gene Pinkard, Director of K-12 Leadership, Education and Society Program, The Aspen Institute
  • Jessica Santana, Co-Founder and CEO, America on Tech
  • Robert Sheffield, President, CORE Learning
  • Rens van den Broek, Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • Joanna Yip, Director of State and District Engagements, English Learners Success Forum

This cohort of the Expert Advisory Council is The Leadership Academy’s second, with the outgoing council having shared their expertise and guidance over a 3-year term.

New council members include current educational leaders, like Monique Darrisaw-Akil, Ed.D., who said school and district leaders navigating ever-changing state and federal mandates need the support provided by organizations like The Leadership Academy more today than ever. “The Leadership Academy fills a critical need for current and aspiring school and systems-leaders who are committed to cultivating learning environments where all students are both challenged academically and affirmed culturally. I’m looking forward to providing guidance to support this important work.”

Other council members include educational scholars like new Expert Advisory Council member Dr. Ann Ishimaru. “I’m ready to help The Leadership Academy build on its powerful work centering equity in leadership,” said Dr. Ishimaru, Professor of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy at the University of Washington’s College of Education. “I’m excited to offer insights related to my research on equitable systems change and collaborations with racially minoritized youth, families, and communities to build more just systems and futures,” she said.

The council is also drawing on the expertise of those in the nonprofit sector like Sharif-El Mekki, a former teacher and principal who went on to found the Center for Black Educator Development. “I’ve been a constant advocate for educational and racial justice to be experienced by our students and those who serve and support them, so I’m grateful to partner,” said El-Mekki. “To advance equity and justice in our complex ecosystem of schools, statehouses, and systems, we need thoughtful, brilliant, and committed people and organizations like The Leadership Academy.”

Said Gutiérrez, “The voices of this diverse group will help to ensure that The Leadership Academy is focused on innovative ways to deepen our impact and that our work with education leaders is always informed by the latest groundbreaking research. We are deeply honored to have their counsel and collaboration.”