Max Silverman

The greatest opportunity for CEL really sits in the realm of helping school districts, regional intermediaries, and state departments of education design leadership systems that ensure both a high quality of current leadership as well as pipelines of future leaders.

Max Silverman

Max Silverman, a nationally recognized leader with expertise in improving instructional leadership systems focused on equitable outcomes for students, has been named executive director of the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership.

Silverman, who will assume his duties on July 1, has served in a variety of leadership positions throughout his career including school principal, central office leader, and most recently as deputy director of the Center for Educational Leadership.

During his 25 years in education, he has led national projects to implement new systems to measure and improve leadership effectiveness, and he has worked closely with individual school districts to improve leadership support systems at scale. Over his time at CEL, Max led the development of CEL’s central office redesign programs and services. These efforts helped CEL develop a reputation as a leader in rethinking the role of school system central offices in supporting the work of schools.

His work has been supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Stuart Foundation, the Wallace Foundation and others. He continually seeks opportunities to build and share his expertise both locally and across the country, including serving as the vice-chair for the Rainier Prep Public Charter School board in Seattle, and collaborating in the Deeper Learning Leadership Forum, a program of Envision Learning Partners based in California. Max has presented findings from his work through publications and conferences hosted by organizations such as AASA, ASCD, the Council of the Great City Schools, and Learning Forward.

“Max exemplifies the bold thinking and action needed to ensure that every child receives the best educational opportunities. His nine years’ experience as a leader at the Center for Educational Leadership provides assurance that under his leadership the University of Washington will continue to work side by side with educators across the state and beyond to improve educational outcomes for all students,” said UW College of Education Dean Mia Tuan.

In a Q&A, Silverman discussed his excitement and vision for the future of the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL).

What are you most excited about as the new executive director for the Center for Educational Leadership?

Over the past 17 years, CEL has developed nationally recognized frameworks, tools, and services. I can’t wait to see how we can leverage this great work to support even more leaders and school systems across the country. Figuring out how we can best scale our knowledge and work is a great challenge for our organization, and one that I am excited to be a part of.

How do you see CEL’s focus changing?

I think our most important work will involve getting even clearer on what we hope will happen for students as a result of our work with adults. This clarity will pretty quickly force us to closely examine what we do and its impact, or even potential impact, on students. As part of this renewed focus on impact, we are going to more robustly enter the critical dialogue on what school and system leaders do to positively impact outcomes for students. As part of this work we are going to actively seek to build relationships with other organizations committed to addressing issues of equity and social justice in our schools.

As you look at the education landscape, what needs do you see CEL being able to meet?

As we and others have documented in the past, our nation’s education system suffers from a lack of instructional leadership expertise in our schools and central offices. Combine this with a teacher and leader shortage in many areas of the country and you can see an important reason why opportunity gaps persist. Our team is well-positioned to partner with state departments of education, funders, regional technical assistance providers, and peer organizations to help develop the next generation of leaders who will be able and ready to attack and conquer issues of educational inequity.

What opportunities do you see for CEL?

The issues related to developing effective leadership within and across school systems is much larger than providing high-quality professional development and coaching. The greatest opportunity for CEL really sits in the realm of helping school districts, regional intermediaries, and state departments of education design leadership systems that ensure both a high quality of current leadership as well as pipelines of future leaders. While this is currently happening in some large urban districts, much of the country is in need of support from organizations that can both help with design work and support leader professional learning. Our ability to work directly with school systems as well as peer organizations positions us to be thought leaders and service providers in this space.

Tell us about an education-related book or movie that has influenced you.

The work of Ted Sizer, including "Horace’s School: Redesigning the American High School," has greatly influenced my vision for what learning and teaching can and should look like. While Jonathan Kozol opened my eyes to systems of inequity and oppression in our schools, reading Lisa Delpit and Gloria Ladson-Billings inspired me to teach and lead differently.

Besides your work, what's something that people should know about you?

Hmm, let’s see, my wife Sue and I have three great kids, Noah (18), Caleb (16) and Rohama (13), I still run up and down the basketball court most Saturday mornings, and I love to go see live music (the smaller the venue the better!).


Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications