When I first heard about the Policy Leadership Academy (PLA), it was hard to imagine how LEE would fit such robust programming into just a weekend. But to my surprise, the program more than delivered on its promises.
I found the PLA to be both inspiring and relevant to my leadership development, and I’d highly recommend this program to other policy and advocacy leaders. Here’s why:
You will network in an organic way and build relationships with people who believe in you and your leadership path.
The program provided an experience chock-full of meaningful workshops, presentations and other opportunities to connect with incredibly accomplished individuals who understand and affirm the work you’re doing.
During the PLA, I reconnected with a past colleague who was working for LEE and had really supported me in making a job transition the year before. She asked that I keep in touch and advised me on how to broaden my network and gain deeper skills beyond my current professional endeavors.
Hearing that I always “had someone in my corner” was the most affirming part of the weekend. I knew I was beginning to build a strong and lasting network.
I also met people I previously knew only by name and outstanding reputation. I was honored to be in the presence of such accomplished and humble individuals who were so open to discussing their own leadership paths, including their failures and lessons learned.
You will feel inspired to invest in yourself.
Much of the programming was directly applicable to my current work. The weekend restored my enthusiasm for the projects I was working on and rejuvenated me to seek out other opportunities to build a wider skillset in policy and advocacy.
I took away a lot of skills that I was able to immediately implement at work, such as how to “manage up” and better communicate with my boss. I also got constructive advice on how to take initiative on projects; argue and negotiate for what matters to me; and push my agenda in a thoughtful, assets-based manner where I approach dialogue from everyone’s perspectives and how everyone stands to gain from my idea.
I also took advantage of coaching opportunities to reflect on where I stood and where I needed to go, specifically by goal-setting.
From the time I spent developing these skills at the PLA, I know I am better equipped to support students and their families.
You will learn that there are so many ways to impact students.
Throughout my career, I have chosen positions that advance educational opportunities for low-income students, specifically those of color. Leaving the classroom, I thought that grassroots work could only take you so far and that the best way to make an impact was through widespread systemic reforms.
This is far from the truth, and what the PLA — and LEE, generally — have taught me is the importance of people power, community organizing and real advocacy. These are the things that affect policy reforms and systemic change. Over the course of the workshop, I engaged in deep-dives and discussions about policy and its development that provided great insight into potential career paths and next steps.
The PLA was more than a training for me. It was a source of inspiration and learning that I believe all leaders in policy and advocacy could greatly benefit from. If you are you are looking to develop your leadership to advance educational equity for all students, I strongly encourage you to apply for the Policy Leadership Academy.
The Policy Leadership Academy is a two-day workshop offered yearly for senior LEE members to acquire advanced knowledge of key education policy issues, learn relevant and valuable skills for enacting policy solutions and deepen their professional networks. Learn more.
Rupa Ramadurai (TFA Miami-Dade ’09), assistant general counsel for special education for the Illinois State Board of Education, attended the PLA in 2016.