A strengthened partnership among the UW College of Education’s graduate leadership programs launches revitalized keynote series that brings students together with national scholars
Launching this month, the Leading Towards Justice Series — a next-gen iteration of the College of Education’s annual John E. Corbally Lecture — will provide ongoing opportunities for students and practicing leaders in schools and systems to grow their practice by learning from and with national scholars. Co-developed by the College’s graduate leadership programs, this series of author talks paired with interactive learning sessions aims to build justice-focused leadership learning and capacity in the field and on the ground and emerged through an ongoing partnership that cuts across programs.
“There’s been an organic, informal partnership over the years among the College’s leadership-related programs,” says Dr. Ann Ishimaru, Bridge Family Associate Professor in Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy (EdFLP) in the College of Education. “We share a focus and commitment to preparing leaders and scholars dedicated to shifting schools and education systems to make them more equitable.”
It’s not uncommon, for example, for graduates of the College’s Danforth Educational Leadership Program — a one-year program geared towards P-12 principals and program administrators that leads to a certification or M.Ed. — to eventually enroll in the Leadership for Learning (L4L) Program — a three-year systems-level leadership program that confers an Ed.D. degree. Additionally, research-focused PhD students in the EdFLP area often seek out the College for opportunities to develop practice- and community-engaged scholarship that contributes to transformative change in education.
“Additionally, several faculty members cut across the programs, which helps build in all of these touchpoints for how we move collectively to stretch and grow these programs,” adds Ishimaru. “We began having conversations about how we could support greater intermixing of our students across conventional boundaries of research and practice as well as schools, districts and communities. We recognized the importance of cultivating collective leadership across programs and cohorts and it’s been such a generative experience to pursue these connection points for all involved.”
The launch of the series further strengthens and formalizes this natural cross-programmatic partnership, with the Danforth and L4L programs coming together with the College’s Education Policy, Organizations and Leadership (EdPOL) Ph.D. program and the newly launched Just Ed Leadership Institute to organize and co-sponsor the series, which differs in format and intention from its predecessor. In its original iteration as the John E. Corbally Lecture, the College hosted formal keynotes by eminent, established scholars on the topic of educational leadership. Spurred by the “good disruptions” of the pandemic and evolving recognition of non-institutionalized forms of leadership, however, the revitalized Leading Towards Justice Series expands the conversation about how leadership becomes defined and who gets seen as a leader.
The series — organized as two-part interactive engagements that bring national authors and scholars in conversation with local leaders and students — is designed to open conversations about the research and practice needed to catalyze change in the education field and on the ground.
“We co-designed this series to be intentional about bringing students and local leaders into conversation with national, well-established figures in the field. Giving our students opportunities to develop these relationships is not only instrumental to their growth but can also inform and shape how our invited speakers understand their work,” says Dr. Anthony Craig, professor of practice and director of the L4L program. “It’s meant to be a dynamic, two-way flow of learning and embodying leadership.”
This series is designed to give us a chance to really dig into what happens when we expand that prescriptive conception of leadership — when we lean into the agitation and disruption wrought by the pandemic, for example, and understand them as provoking generative forms of leadership.
“Indeed, one of the things we’re increasingly thinking about is how leadership manifests outside of formal roles,” Ishimaru adds. “We’re taking an expansive view of how we think about this — that it isn’t just about formal roles or titles. This series is designed to give us a chance to really dig into what happens when we expand that prescriptive conception of leadership — when we lean into the agitation and disruption wrought by the pandemic, for example, and understand them as provoking generative forms of leadership.”
Rather than merely listening to luminaries in the field, asserts Danforth Director Dr. Ann O’Doherty, this series breaks down artificial boundaries and enacts the idea that if we’re really going to transform our systems, we need all the actors — national leaders, local leaders and students — to move in collective leadership.
“This is a starting place for thinking about ways that we can begin to be in conversation with each other and build those connections and co-design what it can look like when we connect leaders at all levels and across programs in our efforts,” says O’Doherty.
The first two-part engagement in the Leading Towards Justice Series, “Willful Defiance in Youth-Led Organizing to Disrupt the School-to-Prison Pipeline” will kick off January 24 with Dr. Mark Warren, author of Willful Defiance: The Movement to Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline, in conversation with leaders from national and local organizing groups, Jonathan Stith of Alliance for Educational Justice and Sierra Parsons and Zion Thomas, both of Washington Building Leaders of Change (WA-BLOC). Part two on February 28 will feature an interactive session co-facilitated by College of Education EdPOL Ph.D. student Ishmael Miller and assistant principal and Danforth alumna Melyssa Stone. Register here.
Additional two-part engagements in the series are planned for monthly intervals throughout the year. These include:
“Stuck Improving towards Racially-Equitable School Leadership”
Monday, March 28, 2022 from 4:30-6:00pm PT/7:30-8:45pm ET:
Part 1 with Dr. Decoteau Irby (author of Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership)
Monday, April 25, 2022 from 4:30-6:30pm PT/7:30-9:30pm ET:
Part 2 co-facilitated by Dr. William Jackson (principal & L4L alumnus) and Genisha Wea (assistant principal & Danforth alumna)
“Leading to Unsettling Settler-Colonial Education: The Transformational Indigenous Praxis Model”
Monday, May 16, 2022 from 4:30-6:00pm PT/7:30-8:45pm ET:
Part 1 with Robin Minthorn, Anna Lees & Cornel Pewewardy (editors of Unsettling Settler-Colonial Education: The Transformational Indigenous Praxis Model)
Monday, June 6, 2022 from 4:30-6:30pm PT/7:30-9:30pm ET:
Part 2 co-facilitated with Dr. Anthony Craig (L4L Director & grad) and Dana Arivso (Unite:ED Director & PhD candidate)
All events in the Leading Towards Justice Series are free and open to the public.
For questions about the Leading Towards Justice Series, please contact Dr. Ann Ishimaru at email@example.com.