Women in K12 Leadership: Real Stories, Real Leaders—Part 2

We continue to share real stories of women leaders at every level who serve as powerful and positive forces for change. May they inspire you to step more into leadership too.
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There is no time like the present to support and empower more women to lead. While it is true that there are hundreds of ways to lead in schools and women represent much of our K12 system, it is also true that women are underrepresented in K12 leadership roles. Only twenty-six percent of superintendents are women, yet seventy-seven percent of teachers are women. 

In part two of Women in K12 Leadership: Real Stories, Real Leaders, we highlight our partnership with Goldman Sachs to support Black women in education leadership as well as insights and advice from two New Leaders alumnae serving in senior district roles. 

Goldman Sachs + New Leaders

In 2021, Goldman Sachs launched One Million Black Women, a $10 billion commitment in direct capital and $100 million in philanthropic support to positively affect the lives of Black women across seven impact areas—education being one of them. Historically, Black women have faced disproportionate racial and gender gaps, both of which contribute to a well-documented racial wealth gap in the U.S. To date, Goldman Sachs has deployed more than $2.1 billion in investment capital and over $23 million in philanthropic capital to 137 organizations, companies and projects across the country. New Leaders is honored to be a grantee. 

This spring, we hosted our second leadership series, A Safe Space for Growth: Black Women in Leadership in Washington, D.C. Black women leaders from across the nation, including New Leaders alumnae, district partners, and staff members, gathered for a full-day to explore how to renew and deepen their sense of purpose, explore how to own the room with their voice, and adopt self-care as a mindset. Keynote speakers included Valerie Jarett, CEO, Obama Foundation and Secretary Condoleezza Rice, the Denning Professor in Global Business and Economy, Stanford University. 

Advice From Two New Leaders Alumnae

Two New Leaders alumnae—Dr. Rahshene Davis and Pilar Vazquez-Vialva—were recently featured in an EdWeek series on women in leadership. Both women serve in senior district leadership roles. Dr. Davis is executive director of curriculum and instruction at Houston Independent School District and formerly, an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia. Vazquez-Vialva is assistant superintendent of educational services at Morgan Hill Unified School District in California. Their advice to women educators:

  • Know your why—you will be asked this question often
  • Find and lean on your mentors—they will identify new opportunities 
  • Build a support system—you and your family will need it
  • Join professional organizations—they can expand your expertise
  • Pay it forward—tap the next generation of women leaders 

More than anything, Dr. Davis contends women in education cannot wait for the perfect time or the perfect opportunity or the perfect qualifications. “One of the best pieces of advice that I received was, ‘You don’t wait until you think you’re ready to apply or go for the next thing, because most men will apply, knowing they might only be 50 percent or 70 percent qualified.’ You are enough. Go ahead, and go for that next thing.” 

To read their full interviews, visit: Don’t Wait: How Women Educators Can Reach the Central Office—And Beyond

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