The state of Massachusetts has selected the NYC Leadership Academy to support and develop a racially and ethnically diverse cohort of aspiring district leaders to create more culturally responsive districts and promote better outcomes for students, particularly those who have been historically marginalized.  

The effort is a core part of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Influence 100, a pilot project aimed at increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of superintendents in the state by building the capacity of a diverse group of educators who aspire to move into the superintendent role in the next five years. Selected educators will participate in a two-year fellowship program. The program is funded in part by the Education Leaders of Color Boulder Fund.

“We have a dual need to grow our pool of school system leaders to better reflect the students they serve, and to ensure that they have the skills to oversee school systems that meet the learning needs of every one of our students,” said Dr. Ventura Rodriguez, Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “The NYC Leadership Academy has the skills and track record to build the capacity of our leaders to lead districts to become more culturally responsive and to engage in intentional strategy development and execution around diversifying our educator workforce.” Currently 4% of school system superintendents across Massachusetts are of color serving a student body that is 40% students of color.

Since its founding in 2003, the NYC Leadership Academy has supported and developed thousands of school and school systems leaders across close to 200 systems in 35 states, reaching more than 5 million students. Through their learning, those leaders are making systemic changes that transform learning experiences for young people.  

During the two-year engagement, the NYC Leadership Academy will work with state education officials to develop an equity-infused leadership curriculum focused on building the skills needed to effectively lead school systems, with a focus on identifying and addressing inequities such as those based on race, class, and among English language learners. As part of this curriculum, fellows will examine the history of inequities in the U.S. and in Massachusetts specifically, and reflect on how that history has resulted in today’s inequities. Fellows will also each undertake an action research project, which they will begin by engaging in data analysis to determine an urgent inequity they wish to dismantle. They will provide each other feedback, refine their work, and track their progress. A recent report published by the Massachusetts Education Equity Project, “#1 For Some,” found that in Massachusetts, less than 1 in 3 Black and Latino 4th graders are on grade level in reading, half the rate for the state’s White students. Only 28% of low-income 8th graders are on grade level in math, less than half the rate for higher income students. And 1 in 3 English learners don’t graduate on time – and 1 in 7 drop out of school entirely. 

As part of the Fellowship, participants will receive support to earn their Massachusetts superintendent certification.  

Said NYC Leadership Academy President & CEO Nancy B. Gutiérrez, “Not only is the state of Massachusetts recognizing and talking about the inequities in its schools, they are confronting those inequities head-on by investing in a critical lever for change – leadership. They are setting an example for the rest of the nation, and we are honored to play a central role in this work.” 

About the 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 200 school districts, state education departments, and education organizations across 36 states, Washington, D.C., and internationally.  

Contact: Jill Grossman:; 347-558-6464