New Leaders in Seven Words #7wordstory (Part One)

In honor of New Leaders 20 year anniversary, we asked what it means to be a New Leader. Our #7wordstories capture the spirit of New Leaders. (Part One)
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Blog date
10/28/21
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What does it mean to be a New Leader? This is the question we put out to our alumni and staff across the country—from teacher leaders to superintendents; from leadership coaches to nonprofit executive directors. In honor of our 20 year anniversary, we want to hear from you.

You are the education leaders who live out our mission every day. You ensure excellence and equity in every school, for every child, no matter the circumstances.

In exactly seven words, we asked you to capture the spirit of New Leaders. And you did. Seven words go straight to the heart of the matter. And inspire us all.


Believing the impossible is possible for kids

Michelle Mason, Senior Director, Center for Educational Leadership, Charlotte, NC

Supporting children of color to achieve dreams

Kamilah Hampton, Principal, Chicago, IL

Leaving a district far better than I found it

Erin McMahon, Superintendent, Marblehead, MA

Leaning in, loving hard, and being authentic

Myron Long, Executive Director, Social Justice School, Washington, D.C.

Advancing equity through committed support and care

Dr. Lakisha Robinson, Director of Professional Learning, Memphis, TN

Living my professional dreams while inspiring others

Shanta Mackey, Principal, Mansfield, TX

Promoting meaningful change to accelerate school growth

Shannon Mariconda, Dean of Students, Stratford, CT

Doing what is best for students daily

Kathryn Valadez-Herrera, Principal, Detroit, MI

Unapologetically proud to lead, love, and disrupt!

Dara Crocker Gronau, Principal, Maplewood, NJ

Change agent for students in my community

Melinda Clark, Educator, Baltimore, MD

Extraordinary leaders trained to serve exceptional students!

Dr. Althea Hammond, Principal, Chicago, IL

Building transformational leaders to impact schools everywhere

Angie Cramer, Senior Director, Program Implementation New Leaders, Milwaukee, WI

Inspiring young scholars to be lifelong learners

Shawna Fagbuyi, Principal, Upper Marlboro, MD

A network of innovative leaders and supports

Paul Barnhardt, Head of School, Charlotte, NC

For children, we must be the change

Carrye Holland, Principal, Memphis, TN

Igniting the future through specific leadership actions

Ashley Walton, Academic Interventionist, Washington, D.C.

Equipping students to achieve their full potential

Dr. Erick Black, Principal, Brooklyn, NY

Equity in schools closes the opportunity gap

Andrea Dixon, Vice Principal, Memphis, TN

Supporting and recognizing assets of multilingual stakeholders

Lucy Bollinger, Director English Learner Services, Elk Grove, CA

Creating a space where students can thrive

Tim Gordon, Principal, Baltimore, MD

Embracing change daily with grace and empathy

Terri Gaston, Principal, Memphis, TN

Supporting children to become dreamers, thinkers, achievers

Gilberto Piedrahita, Principal, Chicago, IL

Empowering parents to advocate for educational equity

Celeste Terry-Lo, Educational Consultant, Providence, RI

Changing mindsets, lifting communities, and believing bigger

Tiffany Etheridge, Principal, Baltimore, MD

Know better, do better, creating with community!

Kinnari Patel-Smyth, President, KIPP Public Schools, Atlanta, GA

Embracing, educating, empowering all students, teachers, parents

Susan Kilbane, Principal, Bainbridge Island, WA

Leadership plants seeds for generations … changing lives

Vikki Stokes, Senior Consultant, Chicago Virtual Charter School, Chicago, IL

School day is finite, but possibilities? Infinite.

Curtis Lawrence, Executive Principal, Jacksonville, FL

Affirming our humanity toward liberation and justice

Ashlee Gutierrez, Executive Director, Bay Area Teacher Training Institute, Oakland, CA

Shaping the world I’ll live in tomorrow

Dr. John Jenkins, Deputy Chief Officer, Program Implementation, New Leaders, New York, NY

Discover more about New Leaders alumni and our 20 years of impact. Visit us at newleaders.org


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