Leadership Lessons

Yesterday morning I set off on a reflective run before catching my flight to Houston for KIPP Summit. I ran alone without music, trying to make sense of what I have learned over the past 14 months at the Summer Principals Academy. Late Sunday night I returned to Los Angeles with a Masters in Educational Leadership from Columbia University. The infamous Summer II was the most academically challenging experience of my life. I have never felt such deep mental and physical exhaustion. As much as I envied those spending their summers on the beach with family and friends, I would not trade the experience. I have grown immensely in my understanding of what it means to be a leader in urban education, and feel a part of a Columbia University army of leaders, setting forth to go and make the world a better place for our students across the country. The 87 cohort members amaze me with their drive, commitment, intellect and reflective nature. Although I have always thought of myself as intense, I was humbled this summer as there were plenty of moments  when I wanted to give up, and felt the task ahead was impossible. My cohort members encouraged me, believed in me and challenged me to be my best. I have learned many lessons from my professors and cohort members, but below are those that resonate with me most.


  1. Leadership comes in many forms. Often those who have the most to contribute and the strongest ability to unite others under a common vision are not the loudest and most outgoing.
  2. As a leader, ask yourself if your actions are aligning to the legacy you’d like to leave.
  3. It is difficult to measure presence, but visibility is the most important quality of a leader.
  4. You must build a safe holding environment for those you work with so that they feel supported in their personal growth.
  5. There is so much power in closing your eyes and taking a deep single breath. Engage in regular meditative practices.
  6. Change your perspective on facing fears. Although I was terrified, there was something invigorating about getting up on a stage in front of an audience to defend my thesis.
  7. You might not have a favorite teacher until you go to graduate school. I want to be Suzanne when I grow up.
  8. Don’t get so consumed with the day-to-day tasks. Notice the red shoes.
  9. Focus on capitalizing your strengths rather than attempting to overcome your weaknesses.
  10. If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.

Last run in NYC!