EdLeader21 Announces Changes in Leadership Team

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Organization Helping School Districts Prepare Students with 21st Century Education to Celebrate 5th Anniversary

Today EdLeader21, the professional learning community for leaders committed to 21st century education, announced new leadership appointments. Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) (VA) Dr. Karen Garza and Superintendent of Dysart Unified School District (AZ) Gail Pletnick have been named the Advisory Committee’s Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.

In addition, Valerie Greenhill has been named President of EdLeader21. Prior to co-founding EdLeader21 and serving as its Chief Learning Officer, Greenhill spent six years heading strategic initiatives for P21 (Partnership for 21st Century Skills). In her new role, Greenhill will have overall responsibility for driving growth of the entire organization. Ken Kay and Alyson Nielson will remain in their roles as CEO and COO, respectively.

Dr. Garza heads the tenth largest school district in the country and has long been a supporter of 21st century skills. Upon arriving in Fairfax County she began a strategic planning process to help create a vision around 21st century education. Dr. Garza has a proven track record of success in improving student learning and implementing programming. Dr. Garza introduced the idea of a “portrait of a graduate,” a set of skills and attributes that Fairfax graduates should have when they leave the school system for colleges or careers.

“Our school system, along with the broader FCPS community, has been energized around the collective vision for 21st century learning which has served as the cornerstone of our long range strategic plan,” said Dr. Garza. “EdLeader21 has been an instrumental partner in helping us craft this work. I look forward to serving in the role of chair and to FCPS’ continued engagement in this very important work and the overall learning community that is EdLeader21.”

Joining Dr. Garza on the Advisory Committee as vice chair will be Superintendent Pletnick, who was recently named Arizona Superintendent of the Year by the Arizona School Administrators. During her tenure as Superintendent in the Dysart Unified School District, the district has been recognized at the state and national levels for building a 21st century learning environment that includes innovative approaches, the use of technology to transform teaching and learning, and efforts to personalize education.

“I look forward to sharing our best practices with a broader audience,” said Superintendent Pletnick. “We have benefited from the EdLeader21 tools, so I am particularly interested in giving back to the group and how we can collaboratively expand the impact of our work.”

The list of additional appointees to the PLC Advisory Committee for 2016, each of whom serves a 2-year term, includes:

Molly Bestge, Secondary Curriculum Coordinator – West Fargo Public Schools (ND)
Karen Cheser, Chief Academic Officer/ Deputy Superintendent – Boone County Schools (KY)
Mike Duncan, Superintendent – Pike County Schools (GA)
Theresa Dunkin, Superintendent – Aptakisic-Tripp School District (IL)
Scot Graden, Superintendent – Saline Area Schools (MI)
Jon Gundry, Superintendent – Santa Clara County Office of Education (CA)
John Jungmann, Superintendent – Springfield Public Schools (MO)
Deb Kerr, Superintendent – School District of Brown Deer (WI)
Nishant Mehta, Head of School – The Children’s School (GA)
James Merrill, Superintendent – Wake County Public School System (NC)
Anita Micich, Superintendent – Mason City Community Schools (IA)
Syna Morgan, Chief Academic Officer – Jefferson County Public Schools (CO)
Juliette Myers, Director of Middle/Secondary Education - Frederick County Public Schools (VA)
John Puglisi, Superintendent – Rio School District (CA)
Eric Schneider, Assistant Superintendent – Minnetonka Public Schools (MN)
Aaron Spence, Superintendent – Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VA)
Elena Toscano, Assistant Superintendent – Napa Valley Unified School District (CA)

“We are so honored that Dr. Garza, Superintendent Pletnick and all the members of the PLC Advisory Committee have agreed to help guide EdLeader21,” said Kay. “Education is a difficult sector to change and the only way to do it is for transformative leaders to work together and support one another. We are so fortunate that this group of leaders has stepped up and taken leadership roles in moving the important work of 21st century education forward.”

Kay continued, “Valerie has been a key leader of the 21st century education movement for more than a decade. As Chief Learning Officer of EdLeader21 she has helped our members develop and implement district-wide improvements in teaching and learning. In her new role as President, she will help lead the entire organization as we grow and advance this important agenda. I am so pleased that she will take on this new role with broader responsibilities.”

“It is inspiring to support our members as they transform education for their students," said Greenhill. “I am incredibly proud of EdLeader21's growth over the last five years and I’m thrilled to take on this new role to reach the next level of success.”

Additionally, EdLeader21 will officially recognize its fifth anniversary with an online birthday celebration on January 12, 2016. Thought leaders, educators, EdLeader21 members and friends in 21st century education are encouraged to leave birthday messages using #EdLeader21. The organization began with 20 members in 2011 and has grown to more than 170 members representing more than 3 million students.

To learn more about EdLeader21, visit http://www.edleader21.com and follow the anniversary celebration at #EdLeader21 on January 12.


EdLeader21 is a professional learning community (PLC) of more than 170 schools and districts in the U.S. The PLC was founded in 2011 and is based in Tucson, Arizona. The PLC provides superintendents, heads of schools and their leadership teams the opportunity to work collaboratively on projects they deem important to their implementation of 21st century education and specifically the 4Cs. The PLC also provides members with helpful tools and resources for professional learning including webinars, blogs and an annual event that is now the single biggest yearly gathering of 21st century education practitioners. Follow EdLeader21’s leadership on twitter @kenkay21, @val_green and @EdLeader21.

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Stacey Finkel
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