What does it take to truly transform education? Today’s education leaders have to be nimble cross-sector collaborators who can work within a sector that now includes not only state and local districts, but also nonprofits, philanthropies, tech start-ups, and charter schools.
That cross-sector capacity-building is foundational to the Doctor of Education Leadership Program at HGSE, which was created in response to that changing educational ecosystem. For the past 10 years, the Ed.L.D. Program has worked to nurture leaders who are committed to achieving two essential goals: excellence and equity in education.
HGSE’s Ed.L.D. degree prepares nimble, cross-sector collaborators who focus on equity and strive for excellence. The goal? Nothing less than transforming education.
“A single person as a superintendent is not going to change the sector,” observes Senior Lecturer Drew Echelson, the new director of the Ed.L.D. Program. “[The Ed.L.D.] is about bringing people together from diverse backgrounds, both from an identity perspective and professionally, and having them work together to solve some of the complex problems facing our preK–12 education system.”
Having enrolled 10 cohorts of students, the program has now seen a significant number of its graduates reenter the education field — as superintendents, nonprofit leaders, start-up CEOs, and state education leaders. Across their various roles, they draw on the Ed.L.D. network to collaborate, advise, and offer a sounding board. This cross-sector collaboration means that issues around excellence and equity are being considered from multiple angles and perspectives.
“Ed.L.D. has greatly expanded my view of the education sector. The program has sharpened my ability to collaborate with other leaders from differing perspectives, working in concert toward the ambitious goal of dismantling longstanding inequities in school systems and replace them with school systems that enable all young people to thrive,” says Ed.L.D. student Charisse Taylor, who is completing her third-year residency with the Rhode Island Department of Education.
“There’s no doubt that Ed.L.D. made me the leader I am today. The program set me on a path to become a nationally recognized and respected voice in both college and career pathways and in cross-sector systems-building,” says Amy Loyd, Ed.L.D.’10, vice president of Jobs for the Future. “I’m also leading an organization-wide focus on more deliberately incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion into all that we do — and Ed.L.D. positioned me to take on this ambitious work through its interdisciplinary approach to developing leaders.”
As the education sector has started to more systematically consider the role that diversity of identity and representation (or the lack of it) plays in learning, Ed.L.D. graduates have fueled the urgency of those conversations. As Senior Lecturer Elizabeth City, former director of the Ed.L.D. Program, notes, diversity — and diversity of leadership — has long been a key focus of the program, which recognized early on that solving the complex problems in education requires leaders from all backgrounds who can transform systems to deliver on the expectations of community.
“We were out in front of all that doing our own learning and struggling, and our people are now leading lots of those conversations,” says City. “One of the significant contributions I think Ed.L.D. will make in the next 10 years is not just helping people talk about equity but actually enact it.” – Emily Boudreau