Craig Adamson
Restorative Practices in Conflict Resolution

Craig Adamson, Ph.D., Provost and Associate Professor at the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), is a veteran restorative practitioner with more than 20 years of experience delivering counseling and educational services to delinquent, dependent and at-risk youth. As President of the IIRP model programs, Community Service Foundation and Buxmont Academy, where he has worked since 1995, Dr. Adamson has developed and implements innovative approaches that utilize restorative practices. His recent publications in peer-reviewed journals focus on creating restorative learning environments for adults.


Steven Aragona

Dr. Steven Aragona is a NYCDOE high school principal on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He has also been described as a transformative school leader who has successfully facilitated school improvement efforts in schools with high concentrations of vulnerability. Dr. Aragona taught high school for several years, coached athletics, and organized youth mentoring programs. Dr. Aragona is an advocate for educational justice and his research and scholarship has focused on educational leadership, school integration and choice, equity, organizational culture, and culturally sustaining pedagogy. His research has employed qualitative and quantitative methods and theoretical frameworks that include critical race theory, rational choice theory, and institutional theory. Dr. Aragona's research has also explored theories of social reproduction and Black fugitivity and refugeeism to understand more deeply the experiences of students of color in New York City public schools. He has also received an award for Outstanding Scholarship at the Doctoral Level from New York University for his research.


John Bailie
Restorative Practices in Conflict Resolution

John W. Bailie, Ph.D., is President of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). Dr. Bailie is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences on education reform and civil society development. He has initiated major research projects on restorative practices in schools and frequently publishes on the application of restorative practices in leadership, social innovation, adult learning and education reform. Dr. Bailie received his Master of Restorative Practices and Youth Counseling from the IIRP, an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from MIT, and a Ph.D. in Education and Adult Learning from Lesley University.

Jared Boyce
Ecology of Data-Driven Leadership

Jared Boyce, Ph.D., is a quantitative education researcher specializing in using adult and student data to better understand instructional practices, education leadership, and data use in schools. He has firsthand experience building researcher-practitioner partnerships that empower educators in collecting, interpreting, and taking action on their own data through sustainable processes and improvement science. Boyce received the 2016 Advanced Studies of National Databases Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association and the 2016 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in Education and Leadership Strategy for his research on education leadership. He earned his Ph.D. in education leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University and his B.S. in symbolic systems, M.A. in philosophy, and M.A. in education from Stanford University.

Kevin P. Brady
Ethical and Legal Issues in Education Leadership

Kevin P. Brady (Ph.D., University of Illinois) began his career as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational and Community Programs at The City University of New York (CUNY), Queens College, where he first developed his passion for preparing future school leaders for the varied and complex legal issues in today’s schools. Currently, Dr. Brady is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. One of his primary research and scholarly interests comprises legal issues involving students with disabilities. Dr. Brady is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Education Law Association and is on the editorial board of several journals, including Education and Urban Society and the Journal of Disability Policy Studies. 

Jann Coles
Pro Seminar in Education Leadership: Research in Education Leadership

Dr. Jann Coles is a leadership development consultant for education, business and non-profit organizations and co-founder and Chief Program Officer for the National Principals Leadership Institute.  She also directs the School Innovation and Change Awards program, provides emotional intelligence coaching for district and school administrators, and facilitates Respect for All workshops for school personnel on all levels. As a former Superintendent for the New York City Department of Education Office of Adult and Continuing Education (OACE), Dr. Coles transformed the Office, which served 40,000 students, from “unacceptable” to “proficient” status.  Prior to joining OACE, Dr. Coles was the National Director of Principal Support and Coaching for New Leaders for New Schools, a national aspiring principal program. She also led a failing urban secondary school (grades 6-12) from the worst in New York State to achieving exemplary status, facilitated the design teams for many new and restructured schools, and co-founded Partners for Leadership, a school/business principal development program.

 Dr. Coles is currently an associate professor at Hunter College in New York City and previously taught at Fordham University Graduate School of Education and Baruch College in New York City, where she developed courses in leadership, change and diversity.  She is a winner of the School and Business Alliance Corporate Partnership Award, the Middle Schools Association Award, and the Harlem Black Achievers in Industry Award.

Yolanda Davis
Pro Seminar in Education Leadership: Research in Education Leadership

Dr. Yolanda Davis is an Associate Director at the Summer Principals Academy-Teachers College, Columbia University. She is originally from Chicago, IL and earned her B.A. in English, Secondary Education, EdM in Education Policy, and PhD in Education Policy at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include: urban educational leadership, recruitment and retention of diverse educators, issues of equity and access in K-12 schools, and principalship. She is a certified secondary education teacher and is very passionate about teaching, researching education issues, and working within education programs to help create change in K-12 schools.

Larry Gabbard
Resource Allocation for Student Achievement
Mark A. Gooden
Introduction to School Leadership and Decision Making

Dr. Mark A. Gooden is the director of the Summer Principals Academy in New York City as well as the Christian Johnson Endeavor Professor of Education Leadership and Program Director for Education Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. His scholarly interests are focused on principalship, anti-racist leadership, urban educational leadership, and legal issues in education. He received his Ph.D and M.A. in Policy and Leadership as well as his M.Ed. in Mathematics Education from The Ohio State University, and his B.A. in Mathematics from Albany State University. 

Luis Huerta
Resource Allocation for Student Achievement

Luis Huerta (Ph.D. in Division of Policy, Organizations, Measurement, and Evaluation, University of California, Berkeley) is an Associate Professor of Education & Public Policy here at Teachers College, Columbia University. His scholarly interests include education policy, decentralization in education, school choice (charter schools, vouchers, home schooling, and tuition tax credits), privatization in education, and school finance.

Johane Ligonde
Program Development: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment ; Supervision of Teaching and Learning

Johane Ligondé is an award winning principal, educational strategist, and transformational coach.  She has spent almost two decades helping young people, teachers, and leaders create joyous spaces in their lives that nurture the heart as well as the brain to accomplish the highest levels of success.  She believes that internal change is the impetus to systemic change.  In addition to her formal education as a school principal with a Masters in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, she is a trained and renowned coach and has presented to members of Congress on practical life skills and mindfulness tools to effectively combat trauma and stress in schools.   

Laura McNeal
Ethical and Legal Issues in Education Leadership

Professor Laura McNeal is a member of the faculty of University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. Her scholarly interests examine issues of access and equity in employment and education law, with a particular emphasis on issues of access and equity for individuals from traditionally marginalized populations. Professor McNeal has contributed to the national debate on law, education policy, and race relations for CNN, CBS, NBC, NPR and other news networks. She has worked with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School since 2012 where she conducts national empirical legal studies that explore issues of access and equity in education, employment and criminal law. She also conducts implicit bias workshops for educators, lawyers, judges, non-profit organizations and various other sectors. Recently, she served as an expert witness for the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Hearings on School-to-Prison Pipeline. She has received numerous fellowships, honors, and awards, including the Washington University Employment Law Achievement Award and a two-year Stafford Faculty Fellowship for the National Institute on Leadership, Disability and Students Placed at Risk. Dr. McNeal was inducted into the Illinois State University Hall of Fame for her innovative work in the area of education law and policy.  

Ife Onyenekwu
School Leadership for Adult Development

Dr. Onyenekwu has held faculty appointments at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, University of Louisville, University of Missouri, and Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses equity and access for underrepresented populations along the P-20 education pipeline., diverse Black populations in higher education, and internationalization of higher education. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Missouri where she received funding to begin an international project examining the education journey of Nigerian returnees with foreign degrees. Other recent research emphasize the educational experiences of Black immigrant collegians; the role of promotional materials in studying abroad; and identity development.

Yilin Pan
Ecology of Data-Driven Leadership

Yilin Pan is a post-doctoral researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University specializing in cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis, decision-making in resource allocation, and Bayesian statistics. She was a consultant at the World Bank's education sector from 2016-2017. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Pan’s research aims to facilitate the utilization of research evidence to better guide policymakers and practitioners' decision-making about resource allocation. She has been working on applying Bayesian statistics to improve the methodologies that generate research evidence. Her attempts focus on localizing evidence of program effectiveness and cost obtained from evaluation settings to reflect the student and teacher characteristics of a specific decision-making setting, the subjective judgments of the local decision makers, and the values of local stakeholders. Dr. Pan earned a B.A. in English Literature and Linguistics and a M.A. in Higher Education at Tsinghua University, P. R. China.  

Darlene Russell
Pro Seminar in Education Leadership


Darlene Russell is a Professor of English Education at William Paterson University and Fulbright Scholar. Her work focuses on cultural responsive pedagogy, critical race theory, and literary theory. She is the founder of the Nurturing Culturally Responsive Equity Teachers (NCRET) Project, which focuses on implementing culturally responsive and pro-social justice curriculum in secondary classrooms. Dr. Russell and NCRET scholars have presented at national conferences in over sixteen states. She is the recipient of William Paterson University’s Woman of Vision Award, and has authored a textbook, journal articles, book chapters, and two book collaborations that were published with students.


Dena Simmons
Emotional Intelligence

Dena Simmons (Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University) is the assistant director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.  where she oversees training, coaching, and education initiatives. Prior to her work at the Center, she served as an educator, teacher educator, diversity trainer, and curriculum developer. Dena’s primary research interest focuses on assessing teacher preparedness to address bullying in the K-12 school setting. Dena brings with her a wealth of knowledge on teacher education and pedagogy and has published several popular articles on teacher education, social justice pedagogy, education reform, and bullying. She has been invited to speak nationally, including a talk at the United Nations, two TEDx talks, and a TED talk on Broadway. Dena is a recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a J. William Fulbright Fellowship, a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, and a Phillips Exeter Academy Dissertation Fellowship among others.

Laura Smith
Introduction to School Leadership and Decision Making

Laura Smith is a Professor of Psychology and Education here at at Teachers College. Her scholarly Interests include Ssocial inclusion/exclusion and emotional wellbeing, social class and poverty, antiracism and Whiteness, and participatory action research.

Phillip A. Smith
Social Context of Education Reform: Public Engagement & Community Development

Phillip Smith is a earned his PhD in Education Leadership here at Teachers College. He is a part of the team at the Institute for Urban and Minority Education, and his research and work explores how the racial and cultural backgrounds of Black male secondary school principals inform their approach to exercising leadership and seeks to present “color conscious” paradigms of education leadership. Phillip brings with him an extensive background in district and local level education administration and leadership in the UK. He also earned his MBA (Public Services) with distinction from Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, UK, where he completed substantive research on “succession planning in London secondary schools: implications for male African-Caribbean leaders”. Phillip’s research and work on how race/color conscious approaches to education leadership functions within a broader context of improving understanding of global leadership competencies as different and distinct from leadership in a domestic context, cognizant of how a global mind-set, cultural, social, racial and ethnic backgrounds inform our notions of leadership and approaches to leadership development. He is a contributory member of Dr. Robert Carter’s research group at TC that is currently conducting extensive research in Race-Based Traumatic Stress. He is a 2014 graduate, one of thirteen selected nationally, of the Asa G. Hilliard III and Barbara A. Sizemore Research Institute on African Americans and Education sponsored by the American Educational Research Associations’ (AERA) Research Focus on Black Education SIG. 

Marquitta Speller
Pro Seminar in Education Leadership

Dr. M. T. Speller is the CEO and founder of Ivy Learning Services. She is an educational leader with more than 15 years of experience. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Rochester, and her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Speller’s decision to become an educator was born from a desire to provide equity and access for students of color. She believes that all students can succeed with the right resources and support. She intentionally pursued teaching and leadership opportunities in areas where young people were experiencing the most challenges. As a former high school teacher, assistant principal, principal and executive director, she never settled for mediocrity from her students or staff.

During her tenure as principal at the Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Academy Charter High School, all of her students graduated on time, and all were accepted into college. While serving as the executive director in the same district, students continued the tradition of excellence. Under her leadership, students were accepted into some of the country’s top colleges and universities, including Cornell University, Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania. Accomplishing this goal was not simple. After learning about some of the early struggles that her former students faced as they transitioned to college, Dr. Speller worked with her team to reimagine the high school experience for her students by creating a school community that was more aligned with the demands of post-secondary education. Read about her journey in Repositioning Educational Leadership. This journey allowed her to examine and refine her own
leadership practice. Dr. Speller’s experience as a teacher, school leader, district leader and
executive director give her a unique perspective.

Dr. Speller’s is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University and the College of Staten
Island. Her research focuses on culturally relevant leadership, school reform, college and career readiness and college persistence with a special emphasis on Black and Brown students.

Anjale Welton
Social Context of Education Reform: Public Engagement & Community Development

Anjalé D. Welton is an Associate Professor and Assistant Director for the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) at the University of Illinois.  Her research examines how shifting sociopolitical contexts influence how school leaders’ dialogue about and address issues of equity, especially race.  Other research areas include college and workforce readiness and access, especially for students of color, and the role of student and community voice in school improvement efforts.  Most recently, she co-hosted in Chicago, IL a Spencer Foundation funded conference that focused on Strengthening Anti-Racist Leaders to Advocate for Racial Equity Amongst Political Uncertainty. Researchers and practitioners came together for a day and a half long conference to share resources and strategize how to actively do anti-racist work at their institutions and in their communities. She was also the lead Guest Editor for a special issue in Urban Education (2018) that brought together a group of scholars who focus on preparing antiracist school leaders.

Martha Zornow
School Leadership for Adult Development

Professor Zornow, a proud member of SPA’s 2005 Founding Cohort, has been an educator for almost two decades, teaching and leading in schools NYC, Westchester, and Connecticut. The Founding Principal Emerita of Girls Prep Bronx MS, she now serves as a field supervisor for NYC Teaching Fellows and as a college writing instructor. Zornow graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and worked as a business affairs attorney before making the jump into education. She believes passionately that clear, mission-driven communication can move mountains.

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