The University of Washington’s Danforth Educational Leadership Program has been named the 2019 recipient of the Exemplary Educational Leadership Preparation Program Award, presented by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA).

The Exemplary Educational Leadership Preparation Program Award (EELP), sponsored by The Wallace Foundation, is given to a university-based program that demonstrates exemplary educational leadership preparation and is a national model for supporting the success of future school leaders.

“UCEA congratulates the Danforth Program on receiving the EELP award,” said Mónica Byrne-Jiménez, UCEA executive director. “The EELP award complements UCEA’s core mission and we are so pleased to have such a deserving program as this year’s recipient. Danforth is an exemplar in the preparation of educational leaders particularly in their drive for equity-focused leadership and continuous improvement.”

The UW College of Education is the only education school in the nation to receive the honor twice. In 2016, the UW’s Leadership for Learning (EdD) program also was chosen for the award.

Led by Ann O’Doherty, the Danforth Educational Leadership Program is a one-year, principal and program administrator certification program that offers students the option to concurrently obtain a master’s degree in education, leadership and policy. The​ innovative program combines proven ​practices for adult learners​ and cutting-edge ​research​ with ​intensive field-based learning​ experiences.

The program is distinguished by its purposeful ​cohort-based model and collaborative approach to leadership​, ​integrated coursework and field-based learning,​ and an acute ​focus on equity and organizational change through ​core values​ and ​self-reflection​. Over its 31-year history, the program has successfully developed more than 740 educational leaders. In the last five years, more than 90 percent of Danforth alumni have been hired as principals, assistant principals or central office leaders within three months of graduation.

According to O’Doherty, Danforth collaborates with university, school and district partners to recruit aspiring school and district leaders who have exhibited prior development in equity and successful experience in working with adults to improve learning outcomes.

“Once enrolled in the program, our Danforth instructors build knowledge and skills by engaging students in research-informed coursework integrated with authentic field-based experiences,” O’Doherty said. “This intentional coherence between coursework and leadership practice, combined with critical self-reflection on personal practice, develops effective, equity-driven, learning-focused, collaborative leaders. We intentionally prepare graduates to cultivate leadership in others to deliver on the promise of equity through improved student learning outcomes.”

Mike Starosky, Seattle Public Schools executive director of schools, noted the longstanding partnership between the district and the Danforth program.

“In our partnership we have developed and supported school leaders worthy of leading our teachers, students and communities,” Starosky said. “Seattle Public Schools appreciates their responsiveness to our district’s needs in developing school leaders who are able to apply exceptional leadership skills to our students’ diverse needs. We appreciate their responsiveness and spirit of partnership in working together in our shared interest developing the educational leaders our students deserve.”

The EELP Review Committee found a compelling narrative about the program's focus and strong evidence of this focus in the program's design. According to Shelby Cosner, professor and director of the Center for Urban Education Leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago and chair of the EELP Review Committee, the Danforth program “displayed strong evidence of a continuously improving program rather than a program that has been redesigned at one finite point in time. In addition to sharing a range of data sources and logic model to understand the program’s impact, this program provided strong evidence of the ongoing uses of these kinds of data as well as processes of collaborative inquiry by program faculty to find and solve program problems.”


Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications