On October 25, 2023, joined by more than 200 educators, leaders, and champions of our work, The Leadership Academy commemorated 20 years of working tirelessly to develop and sustain culturally responsive schools and school systems where all students can feel safe, seen, and valued. The evening was one of gratitude, community, and celebration.

“We are gathered here tonight to celebrate the power of leadership and the possibility of cultivating school systems where every child can bring every intersection of their identity into every classroom, every day, and not only be celebrated and affirmed for who they are but held to the highest expectations of academic rigor, creating pathways for lifelong success. This vision is only possible through leadership,” reflected The Leadership Academy’s Lead Education Officer & President Nancy Gutiérrez.

Check out this short video featuring highlights from the event:


Held at the beautiful New-York Historical Society in New York City, the program included a dynamic dance performance by middle school students from the Bronx’s MS180, remarks by distinguished guest New York City Public Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, and a powerful keynote about remembering what we can accomplish together by Pahara Institute CEO Kriste Dragon.

The Leadership Academy also honored four education leaders whose work exemplifies the organization’s mission and values, and three civic leaders central to the organization’s beginnings and who remain supporters today.

Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of The Partnership for New York City, Louise Mirrer, President & CEO of the New-York Historical Society, and Sy Sternberg, retired Chairman & CEO of New York Life Insurance Company were each presented with the Award for Visionary Excellence, recognizing their roles as founding board members and their commitment to cultivating a new generation of school leaders.

“What they launched in New York City not only met the goal of creating the best leaders imaginable in New York City, but benefited the entire country,” said The Leadership Academy’s Board Chair Jonathan Moses. Today, The Leadership Academy has supported nearly 14,000 leaders in 40 states and the District of Columbia, playing a role in transforming 431 school systems, and ultimately allowing 11.5 million students to learn in schools with stronger leaders.

Watch Honoring our Founders to hear reflections on the earliest days of The Leadership Academy:


For their commitment to bold, culturally responsive leadership, LaTonya Goffney, Ed.D, Superintendent of Schools, Aldine ISD, Marisol Rosales, Ed.M, Former Senior Deputy Chancellor, New York City Public Schools, Danika Rux, Ed.D., Deputy Chancellor of School Leadership, New York City Public Schools, and Gonzalo Salazar, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools, Los Fresnos Consolidated ISD were recognized with the Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership.

“All four honorees have unique stories, their own passions for doing this work, and they all have shown that no matter the challenge, they have the fortitude to keep going,” said Chancellor Banks.

Watch Realizing our Mission to hear more about these influential leaders and their stories:


The evening concluded with Dr. Gutiérrez looking to the possibilities of the future, and the work that lies ahead. “Tonight is a testament to the power of unity, vision, and courageous leadership. Each of you forms the very heart of The Leadership Academy, and we in this room represent the layers of the system that have the power and privilege and agency to create a new generation of school experiences. We can ensure that schools are places where students are fully seen and welcomed, places where they don’t just meet standards but shatter them.”

See photos of the celebration here: