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Urban Education Leaders Program

Department of Organization and Leadership

Our Faculty

Dr. Brian K. Perkins

Dr. Brian K. Perkins

Director of the Urban Education Leaders Program

Dr. Brian K. Perkins is the Director of the Urban Education Leaders Program (UELP) at Columbia University Teachers College Department of Organization and Leadership. He is the former Chair and Professor of Education Law and Policy at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Perkins successfully led both programs to full NCATE accreditation. Dr. Perkins is a distinguished Yale alumnus and was named a Timothy Dwight Fellow in 2004. He was a member of the research faculty at the Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Perkins was an instructor at the Yale University Department of Chemistry and was awarded the distinguished teaching award for instruction in Inorganic Chemistry Problems. He has served as a consultant to school districts throughout the he U.S., Brazil, Israel, Thailand, the People’s Republic of China, India and the Republic of South Africa. Dr. Perkins has previously served as a visiting professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Dr. Perkins is the host of his own Internet radio show, The Perkins Platform, which is a monthly forum on education leadership topics with thousands of listeners.

Dr. Perkins was the President of the New Haven (CT) Board of Education where he served for 11 years. He also served for four years on the Board of Directors of the National School Boards Association. Dr. Perkins served two terms as national chair for CUBE: Council of Urban Boards of Education and was the chair for the National Black Caucus of School Board Members. Dr. Perkins was also the national chair of the Leadership for Healthy Communities initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Perkins is the author of several published articles and book chapters and serves as the Principal Investigator and author of Where We Learn (2006), Where We Teach (2007), and What We Think (2008) – the largest studies on urban school climate in the history of public education. Dr. Perkins is leading a ground-breaking study and improvement initiative of school climate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Dr. Perkins received his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Grambling State University, his Masters in Public Health from the Yale University School of Medicine and his Doctorate of Education from Columbia University Teachers College. He has a graduate certificate in executive coaching from the Columbia Business School. Dr. Perkins is a registered provider of continuing education for school board members by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and a nationally certified principal mentor by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. He is also a Gallup-certified Strengths-based Leadership Coach.

Dr. Eleanor  Drago-Severson

Dr. Eleanor Drago-Severson

Professor of Education Leadership and Adult Learning

Dr. Eleanor Drago-Severson is a Professor of Education Leadership and Adult Learning in the Organization and Leadership Department of Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research and teaching passions include school leadership, qualitative research methods, and supporting adult development in K-12 schools, ABE/ESOL programs and higher education contexts. Dr. Drago-Severson is the author of Becoming Adult Learners: Principles And Practices For Effective Development (Teachers College Press, 2004) and Helping Teachers Learn: Principal Leadership For Adult Growth And Development (Corwin Press, 2004). Helping Teachers Learn was awarded the Outstanding Staff Development Book of the Year for 2004 by the National Staff Development Council. Dr. Drago-Severson is also the author of Leading Adult Learning: Supporting Adult Development in our Schools (Corwin Press, 2009), which further explores practices supportive of superintendent, principal and teacher growth.
A developmental psychologist, Dr. Drago-Severson's work is inspired by the idea that schools must be places where adults as well as children can grow. Dr. Drago-Severson served as lead researcher on the Adult Development Team of the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) with Robert Kegan at Harvard University and consults with schools and educational leaders on matters of principal and teachers' professional development, and leadership that supports adult development and learning. Dr. Drago-Severson has served as teacher, program designer, program director, consultant, and professional developer in a variety of educational contexts including higher education, Adult Education Community Centers, and K-12 schools domestically and internationally.  
Dr. Drago-Severson conducts research into and teaches courses and workshops on leadership for adult development, adult learning, and qualitative research methods. Dr. Drago-Severson is known widely for her work, publications and teaching in these domains. Dr. Drago-Severson's work has been recognized by and supported with awards from the Spencer Foundation, the Klingenstein Foundation, and Harvard University Graduate School of Education where Dr. Drago-Severson served as Lecturer on Education for eight years, and also Harvard University's Extension School where Dr. Drago-Severson served as a faculty member.  While serving at Harvard University, Dr. Drago-Severson was awarded the prestigious 2005 Morningstar Award for Excellence in Teaching, an annual prize made to the teacher at the Graduate School of Education voted outstanding by students, faculty and administration. At Teachers College, Dr. Drago-Severson has been awarded three distinguished teaching awards from the Dean.


Dr. Drago-Severson received her Bachelor of Arts from Long Island University and her Ed.M. and Ed.D. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Drago-Severson grew up in the Bronx and lives in New York City.

Dr. Drago-Severson can be reached via email at ed2222@columbia.edu, or by telephone at 212-678-4163.

Eric  Nadelstern

Eric Nadelstern

Deputy Chancellor for the Division of School Support and Instruction (09-11)

Mr. Eric Nadelstern was the Deputy Chancellor for the Division of School Support and Instruction for the New York City department of education from 2009-11, overseeing instructional and operational support to the city's 1700 schools. Over the course of a 39 year career with the New York City Public Schools, Mr. Nadelstern has also served as Chief Schools Officer for the Division of School Support; Chief Executive Officer for Empowerment Schools, a citywide district reform initiative serving 500 schools that have accepted performance contracting in return for major decision-making authority; Supervising Superintendent for the Autonomy Zone; Chief Academic Officer for New Schools; Senior Instructional Superintendent for School Improvement and Restructuring; Deputy Regional Superintendent for Region 2 in the East Bronx; and Deputy Superintendent for New and Small Bronx High Schools. As the founding Principal of the International High School at LaGuardia Community College, he created an innovative public secondary school for English Language Learners that has been widely replicated throughout the city and around the country. During his tenure with the New York City Schools, Mr. Nadelstern served in institute leadership roles at New Visions for Public Schools, Stanford University, Teachers College at Columbia University and Bank Street College of Education.

Mr. Nadelstern has been recognized for his contributions in the classroom by the New York City Schools, Angelo Patri School Award for School-Based Management, the Anti-Defamation League, and the International Partnership Award. Mr. Nadelstern has been the author and the subject of numerous articles and interviews on his work creating a critical mass of new small schools to increase student performance, establishing school-based autonomy as a school district reform strategy to foster greater accountability for student achievement results, and reforming central office operations in the largest school district in the nation.

Mr. Nadelstern can be reached at nadelstern@aol.com  or 212-531-5207.

Dr. Alex J. Bowers

Dr. Alex J. Bowers

Associate Professor of Education Leadership

Dr. Alex J. Bowers is an Associate Professor of Education Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. in Educational Administration from Michigan State University. His research focuses on the intersection of effective school and district leadership, data driven decision making, student grades and test scores, student persistence and dropouts. His work also considers the influence of school finance and facilities on student achievement. Dr. Bowers is the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2012 American Educational Research Association's (AERA) Emerging Scholar Award for Division A, Administration, the 2012 University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) Jack A. Culbertson Award for outstanding early faculty research, and a 2008 AERA outstanding reviewer of the year award for the American Educational Research Journal (AERJ). Dr. Bowers is an editorial board member for the journals Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ) and the Journal of Education Finance (JEF).

Dr. Bowers' research examines how school leaders are able to leverage and use the data that they already collect in schools to help drive decisions on how to allocate limited school and district resources to specific student needs. These types of data include non-cumulative teacher assigned grades as data that are rarely examined for the ability to predict student outcomes. In related work, Dr. Bowers' research explores how current data mining techniques can help school leaders organize and analyze their school's data to help determine which students need what kinds of interventions at specific points in time and curricular subjects in an effort to help schools provide tailor instruction and services to students and families.

Bowers also studies school and district leadership, examining which leadership factors influence student achievement at the school and district levels. This includes research on district effectiveness, school finance and school facilities. Additionally, Bowers studies how school districts can be effective and efficient, as well as studying which factors help predict school capital facility finance bond elections.


Jeffrey M. Young, Professor of Practice in Education Leadership

Dr. Jeffrey Young 

Professor of Practice in Education Leadership

Dr. Jeffrey M. Young is a Professor of Practice in Education Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Before joining the faculty at Teachers College, Dr. Young served as Superintendent of Schools in Cambridge, MA from 2009 through 2016, following terms as Superintendent in Newton, Lexington and Lynnfield, MA.  He began his career in education as an English teacher, Department Chair, and Curriculum Coordinator in Brookline, MA. Dr. Young was a member of the Adjunct Faculty at the Boston University School of Education and has delivered talks at various institutions of higher learning as well as at the International Education Conference in Beijing, China. 

Among his distinctions, Dr. Young has been recognized by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents with the President’s Award; Brandeis University with the Levitan Award for Leadership; and the Cambridge NAACP with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for his work “to provide an effective, innovative education to ALL of Cambridge’s children regardless of race or class.”  

Dr. Young received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University, a Masters Degree in Education from Tufts University, and a Doctorate in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As a new member of the Teachers College faculty, Dr. Young is struggling with his identity as a fan of the Boston Red Sox.

Dr. Young can be reached via email at jyoung@tc.columbia.edu and/or by telephone at 212-678-8329.


Sonya Douglass Horsford, Associate Professor of Education Leadership and Senior Research Associate at TC’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME)

Dr. Sonya Douglass Horsford

Associate Professor of Education Leadership

Dr. Sonya Douglass Horsford is an Associate Professor of Education Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests include the political and policy contexts of education leadership with a focus on school desegregation and education reform in the post-Civil Rights Era. Her work has been funded by The Spencer Foundation and published in numerous journals and edited volumes to include Educational Administration Quarterly, Teachers College Record, The Urban Review, and the Handbook on Critical Race Theory in Education.

Dr. Horsford is editor of three books and author of Learning in a Burning House: Educational Inequality, Ideology, and (Dis)Integration (Teachers College Press, 2011), which received a 2013 AESA Critics’ Choice Award. Prior to joining Teachers College, Horsford served as an Associate Professor of Education at George Mason University and Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and continues to study school desegregation and community-based reform efforts in the U.S. Mountain West.

Dr. Horsford received a B.A. in Communications and Journalism from Colorado State University, a Masters in Public Administration from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Dr. Horsford can be reached via email at horsford@tc.columbia.edu and/or by telephone at 212-678-3921.

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