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The Leaders' Table Podcast

The Leaders’ Table Podcast is a series of discussions with leaders in policy & advocacy who are making change and tackling educational inequity. While talking issues, we delve into the career stories of our guests to unearth and highlight the tips and tools, the routines and practices that have lent to their impact -- so that LEE members can identify the actionable items to use to enhance their own impact on the policy world.

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Episode 1: Ryan Smith of The Education Trust--West

Our first guest, Ryan Smith of The Education Trust-West talks to us about the intersection of Black Lives Matter and Black Minds Matter and why the most important quality in a leader is the ability to hold steady.

Episode 2: Nina Rees of The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, talks about the charter school movement, what successful coalition building can look like, and how millennials and Gen Xers can lead together.

Episode 3: Aixle Aman of LAUSD Board Member Ref Rodriguez's Office

Aixle Aman, chief of staff for Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Ref Rodriguez, joins The Leaders' Table for a session on getting through the red tape to get things done in policy.

Episode 4: Luis Avila of 270 Strategies

Luis Avila, senior vice president of 270 Strategies and former national program director at Stand for Children, ignited our hearts and minds in his conversation on the intersection of organizing, policy, and advocacy.

Episode 5: Jada Drew of Social Designs

Jada Drew an international diversity trainer, lead consultant and owner of Social Designs — joins us on #LeadersTablePodcast to discuss how she drives change agents to be their best selves and why diversity isn’t a dirty word.

Episode 6: Amy Wilkins of the College Board

Amy Wilkins — senior fellow for social justice at the College Board and longtime advocate for educational equity known best for her work at the Education Trust — talks policy, patience, and professional mistakes.

Episode 7: Marc Holley of the Walton Family Foundation

Marc Holley, evaluation unit director at the Walton Family Foundation, reflects on what attracts a foundation’s attention, the case for investing in teachers, and the importance of creating time to ask yourself the big questions in life.

Episode 8: Jim Shelton of The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Jim Shelton — president of education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founding executive director of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and former deputy secretary of education for the U.S. Department of Education — talks with us about everything from who’s getting it right in education to how he plans his days.

Episode 9: Tai Dixon of the Children’s Defense Fund

LEE member Tai Dixon is an advocate whose career approach we truly admire, going from the classroom to keeping the trains on track as the national director of state offices and field operations at the Children's Defense Fund.

Episode 10: Matt Candler of 4.0 Schools

As Founder and CEO of 4.0 Schools, Matt Candler and his team have built charter schools, incubated EdTech companies, built houses, and organized communities. And yet he’s one of the most humble leaders we’ve ever met. Listen in as we ask Matt about lessons he’s learned and how he’s quieted his inner perfectionist to allow his inner entrepreneur to develop living ideas.

Episode 11: Stacey Childress of The NewSchools Venture Fund

Stacey Childress flips The Leaders’ Table upside down this episode, sharing lessons learned from her role as CEO of The NewSchools Venture Fund and career as an entrepreneur. From why finding a learner’s mindset is more important than being right, to avoiding getting super-scheduled with meetings, Stacey’s advice will help you reframe your workday.

Episode 12: Luzelma Canales of RGV FOCUS

Luzelma Canales is a powerhouse of an advocate. As Executive Director of RGV FOCUS, she knows her data inside out and upside down. She distils complicated policy issues for any audience. She facilitates sessions like a magician and bringing partners on board is easy as pie. But what sets her apart, makes her an example not just for women in leadership, but an example for us all? Her community leads her. Listen to learn how.

Episode 13: Manny Lamarre of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation

Ever meet a leader whose energy is infectious? Who you can just tell is going places? That’s Manny Lamarre. As executive director of the newly created Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation, Manny stands at the intersection of workforce development, education and equity in a state that was hard hit by the last recession. Manny’s got a dream job at the cutting edge of policy, but what’s even more exciting is imagining what lies ahead for him and the communities he serves. Sky’s the limit when you’re on a rocket ship!

Episode 14: Bill Ferguson, Maryland State Senator

What makes Maryland State Senator Bill Ferguson a rare leader? He’s not only had experience at three levels of Maryland’s education system — first as a teacher, then in the central office, and now as an elected official — but he’s also truly in it for the long haul, not just the easy wins. We ask Bill what the rest of the world can learn from Baltimore at its best and at its worst, and how he keeps it all together as a leader.

Episode 15: Chris Cerf, Newark Public Schools Superintendent

Curious what Chris Cerf has learned from a career in policy working for both Democrats and Republicans, and now as the Superintendent of Newark City Public Schools? Then this episode of The Leaders’ Table is for you!

Episode 16: Kaya Henderson, former Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools

If you’ve heard previous episodes of The Leaders’ Table, you know we’re on a quest to find out what makes leaders tick. This week with Kaya Henderson, we cut right to the heart of it. Our conversation with Kaya packs a punch — and not in the way you might expect if you know much about this former Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. Kaya’s one of those rare leaders who’s willing to go there, get deep and share not only how she measures her own personal and professional success, but how her favorite mistakes have shaped her leadership. That’s authentically Kaya. Tune in for tips, tricks, insights and stories from Kaya Henderson and other education changemakers.

Episode 17: Courtney English of Atlanta's Board of Educaiton

Courtney English is all about his community and leading Atlanta’s Board of Education to serve all kids. As the youngest-ever chair of the Board of Education for the school system where he was once both a student and a teacher, stories of students and the relationships Courtney has with teachers, parents, and community members show up in every policy decision he makes. Courtney shares what he’s learned about building trust as captain of a ship that’s navigated its fair share of tough storms.

Episode 18: Delia Pompa of the Migration Policy Institute

Delia Pompa is a leader whose unique “strength in quietude” has helped her build and sustain a widely respected, multi-decade advocacy career across multiple political waves. She has been a voice for children and families from inside both venerable advocacy organizations and government, including the National Council of La Raza, the Texas Education Agency, and most recently, the Migration Policy Institute.

Episode 19: Pedro Martinez, Superintendent of San Antonio Independent School District

This episode is stacked with tips from the San Antonio Independent School District’s Superintendent, Pedro Martinez’s career leading Chicago’s education system with Arne Duncan, turning education around in Nevada, and now with a community ready for change in one of the fastest growing districts in the country. Take note of Pedro’s advice for strengthening your systems-building muscles, how to balance quick wins with long term planning, and more!

Episode 20: John Deasy of New Day New Year

For our milestone 20th episode, we’re excited to share The Leaders’ Table with CEO of New Day New Year and former Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, John Deasy. Deasy is a leader on a mission to kill the school to prison pipeline with lessons to share on keeping calm under pressure.

Episode 21: Irene Holtzman of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS)

It’s no coincidence that Irene Holtzman spends her days advocating for agile school decision making, and her favorite evenings, rocking the dance floor. But being quick on her feet takes a lot of planning. Put your earbuds in and join us as a fly on the wall for Irene’s reflections on her path from 6th-grade teacher to Executive Director of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS). From the tough lessons in her first year leading a team to the importance of mentorship from a leader who she describes as “the baddest of the bad”, this interview have you moving to the rhythm.