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New leadership program focuses on equity in diverse urban contexts


June 17, 2011

by Jennifer Sipos-Smith

Researchers at the Centre for Leadership and Diversity have developed a new leadership program, Leading for Equity, with the assistance of a grant from the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE). Principal Investigator John P. Portelli worked on the project along with co-Principal Investigators Herveen Singh and Reva Joshee.

The researchers conducted a needs-assessment study prior to designing the program. They were assisted by field colleagues from three different school boards, and several OISE colleagues:  Ann Lopez, Eileen Antone, Njoki Wane, Reva Joshee, and Barbara Bodkin, who provided crucial input in the initial stages of the project, and research program director Dr. Herveen Singh, who defended her thesis in the educational administration program recently. Dr. Singh and Professor Portelli worked with Rosemary Campbell-Stephen of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the University of London Institute of Education, who had developed and implemented a similar program.

The 36-hour program, which ended on June 4, is designed for Aboriginal, Black and Global Majority educators aspiring to leadership positions in the GTA.  Professor Portelli says, "While student bodies have become increasingly diverse, this diversity is not represented in school profiles. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the education workforce, in particular, school administrators, is not reflective of the demographics of the city or the students it is meant to serve." OISE Dean Julia O'Sullivan distributed the certificates to nearly 40 educators including representatives from four school boards who completed the program.

Leading for Equity is an innovative leadership program committed to equity and reflective leadership for global majority educators who want to know more about the evolving conceptions and practices of leadership in relation to urban diverse contexts. Placing special emphasis on the barriers to hiring, retention and promotion of visible minority leaders, it offers the opportunity for aspiring minority leaders to network, do action research, work collaboratively, and receive mentorship and peer support, guided by an outstanding team of mentors who are cognizant of the current condition and are well informed of related international literature and programs developed elsewhere. Leading for Equity is supported and funded by the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE).

The Centre for Leadership and Diversity is devoted to engendering, promoting and sustaining an interest in, and commitment to, leadership and diversity. Centre initiatives are intended to encourage and nurture activities that advance the cause of equity, social justice and democracy in matters of leadership and policy.

John P. Portelli's research and teaching interests are in philosophy of education and educational leadership and policy. His research involves both philosophical and empirical work and is conducted from a critical-democratic perspective. Since 1982 he has worked with educators in schools in several provinces.