January 11, 2023
Chiefs for Change Announces New Cohort of Future Chiefs

Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education chiefs, today announced the seventh cohort of its Future Chiefs ​leadership development program:

  • Eve Carney—Deputy Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Education.
  • Terry Connor—Deputy Superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida.
  • Rick Cruz—Deputy Superintendent, Houston Independent School District, Texas.
  • Lora de la Cruz—Deputy Superintendent, Boulder Valley School District, Colorado.
  • Bren Elliott—Chief of School Improvement and Supports, District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, D.C.
  • Devon Horton—Superintendent, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, Illinois.
  • Keisha Scarlett—Assistant Superintendent of Academics, Seattle Public Schools, Washington.
  • Sonia Stewart—Deputy Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools, Tennessee.
  • Stacey Wilson-Norman—Chief Academic Officer, Cumberland County Schools, North Carolina.

Future Chiefs are bold, innovative emerging leaders who are helping to transform our nation’s schools and preparing to lead large district or state education systems. As participants in the 18-month Future Chiefs program, they engage in collective learning on issues central to effective leadership and receive coaching and mentorship from members of the Chiefs for Change network.

“The members of this cohort are not only making a difference in their own communities but are playing an important role in national efforts to improve K-12 education,” said Chiefs for Change Board Chair Pedro Martinez, who is also CEO of Chicago Public Schools. “Among their many accomplishments, these leaders have designed strategies that have led to dramatic gains in student achievement and have launched programs to help kids from low-income families attend top-tier colleges and universities. They have created new initiatives to connect with vulnerable kids and engage them in school through rigorous academics and supportive learning environments, and have established partnerships with local universities to develop master-level teachers on an accelerated timeline. With all of the challenges children and families are facing now, school systems need these smart and dedicated Future Chiefs. They are already bringing so much to the table and will only expand their impact through our program.”

Over the course of the program, Future Chiefs study systems management; shadow current chiefs; receive individual coaching; attend a variety of virtual and in-person sessions; and have access to intensive job search and placement supports. In addition, they are introduced to tools and guides that Chiefs for Change created to help systems meet students’ needs in the wake of the pandemic. The Future Chiefs program combines support from cohort peers with highly customized mentorship from former superintendents who serve as chiefs in residence, current systems leaders, and other experts.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to the Future Chiefs program: 78 percent of those in Cohort 7 are leaders of color and 67 percent are women. The group is also diverse politically and geographically.

Of the 51 leaders who made up the first six cohorts of the Future Chiefs program, 53 percent have become superintendents or state chiefs, including, in the last 18 months:

  • Maria Vazquez—Orange County Public Schools, Florida.
  • Avis Williams—NOLA Public Schools, Louisiana.
  • Heather Tow-Yick—Issaquah School District, Washington.
  • Iranetta Wright—Cincinnati Public Schools, Ohio.
  • Theresa Williams—Plano Independent School District, Texas.
  • Thomas Taylor—Stafford County Public Schools, Virginia.

In addition, the governor of Arkansas has announced that she will nominate Future Chiefs alumnus Jacob Oliva to serve as the state’s secretary of education.

Cohort 7 will hold its first meeting tomorrow, January 12. To learn more about the Future Chiefs program, please see here.

About Chiefs for Change

Chiefs for Change is a bipartisan network of diverse school superintendents and state education leaders. The network supports members and provides technical assistance; advocates for the adoption of effective policies and practices; and develops the next generation of bold, student-focused superintendents.