A generation ago, the CASDA Leadership in Educational Administration Development (LEAD) Center emerged as part of a broad effort to restructure schools to prepare students in an increasingly diverse society and competitive global economy. The CASDA-LEAD Center was established within the University at Albany School of Education through a federal grant to provide leadership and coordinate resources for school improvement efforts throughout New York State.
Beginning in 1989, the CASDA-LEAD Center implemented a program to support women and minorities in educational administration. According to the Final Report submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, “less than 2% of the superintendents in New York State were women” when the program was initiated. By 1993, women occupied more than 10% of the superintendent positions in New York State. This significant advancement toward equity represented a “monumental increase compared to the 2% progress made in the previous twenty years.”
The Center’s efforts began by convening a Select Seminar comprised of designated representatives from LEAD Projects in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Westchester County and New York City. The delegates gathered at the Rensselaerville Institute in October, 1989 to engage in the inquiry, dialog and reflection via the LEAD Centers that defined the CASDA/UAlbany Select Seminars. The LEAD Centers distributed 4000 copies of the Seminar’s Report, “An Action Plan for Gender Equity,” throughout New York State.
In order to raise awareness and begin to address gender based inequality, the Seminar Report outlined specific action steps and responsibilities for school districts, professional associations, institutions of higher education and legislators. Recommendations included in-service professional development in gender equity for teachers, administrators and board members in school districts, convening joint awareness sessions with other professional associations and inclusion of gender equity as part of the teacher and administrator development programs in colleges and universities. The implementation of the steps outlined in the “Action Plan for Gender Equity” played a central role in the remarkable progress achieved in the years in which the LEAD Center was active.
The movement toward equal opportunity for female educators did not cease with the conclusion of the LEAD Program. Center Director Maxine Giacobbe and colleagues such as Ann Myers and former CASDA Executive Director Dr. Ruth Kellogg built upon the foundation laid in “Action Plan for Gender Equity” with the establishment of the New York State Association of Women Administrators. This organization embraced the LEAD Center’s mission and built upon its progress, continuing to raise awareness and advocate for opportunity and equity. The intersection of the CASDA/UAlbany Select Seminar collaboration model and the resources and infrastructure of the LEAD Centers gave rise to a sustainable movement that made meaningful strides toward equality.