Chiefs for Change today announced six superintendents have joined the bipartisan network of state and district education leaders. All six are participants in or alumni of the Chiefs for Change Future Chiefs leadership development program and began their positions as superintendents in the past year. The new members are:
- Thomas Taylor, Superintendent of Stafford County Public Schools in Virginia.
- Heather Tow-Yick, Superintendent of Issaquah School District in Washington.
- Maria Vazquez, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in Florida.
- Avis Williams, Superintendent of NOLA Public Schools in Louisiana.
- Theresa Williams, Superintendent of Plano Independent School District in Texas.
- Iranetta Wright, Superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools in Ohio.
With these new chiefs, the network has 54 members, 40 of whom are actively serving as chiefs. Of that group, 34 are district chiefs and six are state chiefs. Seventy-two percent of members are leaders of color, and 54 percent are women.
“Our Future Chiefs program is a premier leadership development program for talented educators,” said Chiefs for Change Board Chair and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez. “We are so proud of these leaders who went through our program and worked closely with our chiefs to become superintendents. They exemplify the bold, innovative, student-centered thinking we look for in our members. The superintendency is a challenging but rewarding job. It is both a great honor and a tremendous responsibility to lead a K-12 system. We applaud these new members for their service and warmly welcome them into our community.”
Amid the challenges associated with operating schools in the wake of the pandemic and an increasingly divisive political environment, there are concerns in the field about an exodus of K-12 superintendents. An article published by The Hechinger Report in January said, “Superintendents are leaving their posts in droves.” Roughly 25 percent of superintendents stepped down in 2021, up from about 15 percent in a typical year, according to the article.
To meet the need for talented, diverse K-12 system leaders, the Future Chiefs program prepares aspiring superintendents and supports them with a community of mentors and peers who are or have been in the role. Future Chiefs, including the six individuals joining Chiefs for Change membership today, participate in 18 months of collective learning about issues central to effective leadership. They have individualized coaching from former district and state chiefs, shadow Chiefs for Change members, and receive comprehensive support in their job searches and transitions.
Chiefs for Change is accepting applications through September 21 from individuals interested in joining the next cohort of the Future Chiefs program. See here to read insights that Future Chiefs participants and alumni shared during a webinar for aspiring superintendents.
In addition to building the pipeline of talented educators ready to lead major school systems, Chiefs for Change operates the largest community of practice for K-12 leaders in the nation and has produced resources, available here, to support systems in responding to the pandemic. The network provides technical assistance for promising initiatives in members’ systems and advocates for policies and practices that make a difference for students.
Quotes from New Members
“Being a Future Chief has been an absolute game-changer. I received direct one-on-one coaching and team coaching on my communications, on the materials that I prepared for school district leadership, on my entry plan, and on my application to become a superintendent. That helped me to crystalize my thinking about the things that are in my heart. I have learned a lot of important strategies and tactics thanks to Chiefs for Change.”
– Stafford County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor
“What I love about the Chiefs for Change network are the members, the staff, and the community of supporters. This rich network is diverse and brings a wealth of resources, expertise, and curiosity to the current opportunities and challenges at hand in public education. In addition, people are willing to share without ego and are building and co-creating a sense of future and possibility for every student, every day.”
– Issaquah School District Superintendent Heather Tow-Yick
“You hear chiefs’ optimism; you hear about the struggles they’ve had and how they’ve picked themselves back up–and it rejuvenates you. The members of Chiefs for Change believe that all children–regardless of background or circumstance–deserve a quality education. It is at the heart of who they are.”
– Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Vazquez
“Being a part of the Future Chiefs cohort has been the most phenomenal experience. I met some incredible leaders from across the country and have access to coaches and mentors who have sat in the seat and have experienced many of the challenges that I know I will face as the superintendent of NOLA Public Schools. There is not a question or a challenge that I can imagine having that someone from Chiefs for Change would not be able to help me solve.”
– NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Avis Williams
“One of the things that has been impactful about Chiefs for Change is that I have been able to meet and collaborate with brilliant leaders who are unapologetically dedicated to the success of students and schools. It is inspiring to meet other like-minded leaders from across the country who have one clear focus: student success.”
– Plano Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Theresa Williams
“Everything about the individuals that I have worked with in Chiefs for Change has been inspiring. They are willing to mentor and answer questions anytime of the day or night. It’s not one of them, it’s all of them. That’s what the organization stands for: all of us are looking to improve outcomes for children, including some of the most marginalized children and doing so with support and admiration for each other.”
– Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Iranetta Wright
About Chiefs for Change
Chiefs for Change is a nonprofit, bipartisan network of diverse state and district education chiefs dedicated to preparing all students for today’s world and tomorrow’s through deeply committed leadership. Chiefs for Change advocates for policies and practices that are making a difference today for students, and builds a pipeline of talented, diverse Future Chiefs ready to lead major school systems.