Leadership for School Improvement SIG 101
Leadership for School Improvement SIG 101
SIG Purpose

Welcome! The purpose of the Leadership for School Improvement Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association is to examine how leadership of teachers, principals and superintendents influences instructional capacity resulting in improved student outcomes and how policy guides this collaborative effort. In addition, the Leadership for School Improvement SIG encourages discussion and development of the philosophical, theoretical and empirical tenets guiding school and system renewal. We invite you to join us as we seek to advance this purpose. If you have any questions or comments, please contact any of our officers.

You can find the our Fall 2022 Newsletter here.

Message from SIG Chair


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Message from the LSI SIG Chair Fall 2022

This year the LSI-SIG Executive Committee has continued to explore opportunities for community building within our SIG while also leaning into this year’s UCEA conference theme: Working for/with Equity and Leadership toward Sustainability. I believe LSI SIG is well poised to address this theme as our members represent scholars across the hierarchy and various disciplines within Educational Leadership. Make sure to join our lunch event at UCEA convention; we will engage in research-focused conversations on improvement-related topics while we reconnect and eat! We are excited to with many of the LSI SIG members as we come back together as a community committed to advancing the knowledge and practice of leadership for school improvement.

I also encourage you to reach out to the presenters, make connections, and start conversations on how to move the presented research to practice with an equity lens. As we prepare for UCEA convention this fall, I would like to thank you for being a SIG member and contributing your voice to the LSI community. I would also like to thank the Executive Committee members and the Research Development Program leaders for their service to the SIG.

Moving forward, the LSI SIG will be revisiting its mission statement, taking a social justice and equity lens to explore 4 main questions about our SIG. I hope this 4-question framework serves as transparency to our members and as a useful tool for the SIG in the years to come:

  1. How can we diversify the membership and leadership of our LSI SIG?
  2. How can we welcome diverse conceptualizations of LSI research in our LSI SIG?
  3. How can we support each other in exploring how LSI research can advance social justice and equity?
  4. How can we involve graduate students and attend to their needs through the Research Development Program?

Thank you for all you support this year and your readiness to bend the arc for our LSI SIG toward justice. Your participation is essential to keep this momentum going. Please feel free to send your thoughts to any of the LSI SIG or RDP committee members. And if you are engaged in social media, we invite you to join our community’s conversations on Twitter (@AERALSI). It is an honor to serve as your chair this year.

Your LSI SIG chair

Julia Mahfouz

University of Colorado Denver

Who We Are

2022 - 2023 LSI SIG Executive Committee 

·Chairperson: Julia Mahfouz, University of Colorado, Denver

·Immediate Past Chairperson: Elizabeth Stosich, Fordham University

·Program Chairperson: Meredith Wronowski, University of Dayton Secretary/Treasurer: DeMarcus Jenkins, The Pennsylvania State University

·Dissertation Award Chairperson: Alison Wilson, South Dakota State University

·Book Series Editor: Sonya Hayes, University of Tennessee

·Newsletter Editor: Matthew Shirrell, The George Washington University; Doug M. Wieczorek, Iowa State University (mentor)

·Newsletter Managing Editor: Shaun Shephard, The George Washington University; Brandon Clark, Iowa State University (mentor)

·Researcher Development Program Faculty Advisors: Kristy Cooper Stein, Michigan State University; Christine Nganga, The George Washington University (mentor)

·Researcher Development Program Founding Director: Alison Wilson, South Dakota State University

·Graduate Student Representatives: Shekema Dunlap, Arkansas State University; George Panayiotou, University of Southern California

·Website Manager: Maxwell Yurkofsky, Radford University 

Structure & Government


Each year we elect a Dissertation Award Chair which rotates through the executive council positions. The committees are ad hoc and appointed by the chairperson. Please contact the chairperson if you would like to be involved.

Researcher Development Program (RDP)


The Researcher Development Program (RDP) seeks to expand access to academic networks that dually support graduate students’ personal and professional well-being and scholarly development.

The RDP fulfills its mission by:

  • Striving to create accessible, inclusive, and humanizing professional development spaces
  • Promoting sustained, professionally enriching collaboration between faculty members and graduate students
  • Providing research, writing, presentation, and publication opportunities aligned with participants’ academic and professional goals
  • Promoting opportunities for faculty members to hone their mentorship skills.

We kick off this academic year with 14 mentors and 17 mentees! Currently, the RDP Planning Committee is supporting mentors and mentees as they begin their semester, setting their goals for the year, and planning how they will develop their final projects. Throughout their experience, we intend to support their relationship building, creativity, and project development. Here we provide a list of the mentor-mentee matches for the 2021-2022 cohort.

Mentor Group


Mentee Institution

Craig De Voto, University of Illinois at Chicago

Zainab Qaabidh

North Carolina State University

Jamey Tobery-Nystrom, Frostburg State University


Jennifer Bailey, The University of Texas at Tyler

Emily West Geary

University of Vermont

Meghan Buchanan

Texas State University

Jeong Hoon Choi, SWIFT Education Center, Life Span Institute, University of Kansas 


Jayson Richardson, University of Denver

Aashna Khurana

Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College

Jim Van Overschelde, Texas State University


Zhidong Zhang, The University of Texas--Rio Grande Valley

Kathryn Watson

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Sylvia Royster

George Washington University

Joonkil Ahn, University of North Dakota

Congli Zhang

University of Oregon

Khalid Arar, Texas State University


 Laura Cruz, Penn State

Betty Cowans

Howard University

Jamal Donaldson Briggs

Southern University and A&M College

Lyndsie Whitehead

Howard University 

Michelle Taylor

Wayne State University

LeAnne Salazar Montoya, University of Nevada Las Vegas


Cailen O’Shea, North Dakota State University

Analisa Martinez-Morris 

University of Denver 

Max Yurkofsky, Radford University


Randy Hetherington, University of Portland

David Trautman


Patricia Virella, Montclair State University


Catherine Zeisner, Gonzaga University

April Mouton

Texas State University

Michelle Johnson, MS.

University of Cincinnati

Naichen Zhao

University of Denver

Pinar Ayyildiz, Ankara Medipol University 


Türkiye. Martin Scanlan, Boston College

Anglesia Brown

Wayne State University

Meveryn Chua

School of Education (The College of William and Mary)

Seth Hunter, George Mason

Abby Vining

University of Denver

Vincent Cho, Boston College

Sofia Dueñas

University of Notre Dame




Dissertation of Year Recipients

2022: Megan Griffard, Principal Leadership as a Moderator of Teacher Turnover Following Natural Hazard Exposure, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Advisor, Lora Cohen-Vogel.

2021: Joonkil Ahn, Leadership for Learning and Teacher Self-Efficacy as the Antecedents of Teacher Collaboration, Instructional Quality, Intended Turnover, and Equitable Teaching Practice, Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Advisor, Anjalé D. Welton. 

 2020: Maxwell Yurkofsky, When Reason Confronts Uncertainty: Continuous Improvement, Technical Ceremonies, and the Changing Structure of American Schools, Ed.D., Harvard Graduate School of Education, Advisor, Jal Mehta. 

2019: Bryan VanGronigen, An Examination of the Structures, Functions, and Perceived Effectiveness of School Leadership Teams in Underperforming High Schools, Ph.D., University of Virginia, Advisor, Dan Duke

2018: Mary Bussman, Peer Equity Coaching to Increase Cultural Responsiveness in Teaching and Leading, Ph.D., University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, Advisor, Karen Seashore Louis

2017: Kathryn Wiley, Unfulfilled Promises: Equity & School Discipline Practices in an Innovation School, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, Advisor, Michele Moses 

2016: Romy DeCristofaro, A Multi-Case Study Reflection within Collaborative Teacher Inquiry, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, Advisor, Shelby Cosner

2015:Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, Learning to Teach to the Common Core State Standards: Examining the Role of Teachers’ Collaboration, Principals’ Leadership, and Professional Development, Ed.D., Harvard University, Advisor, Susan Moore Johnson

2014: Doug Wieczorek, A Repeated, Cross-sectional Analysis of Principals' Professional Development and Instructional Leadership Behaviors in the First Decade of the Educational Accountability Era, Ph.D., Syracuse University, Advisor, George Theoharis

2013: Emily Palmer, Talking about Race: Overcoming fear in the process of change, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Advisor, Karen Seashore Louis

2012: Angela Urick, To what extent do typologies of school leaders across the U.S. predict teacher attrition? A multilevel latent class analysis of principals and teachers, Ed.D., University of Texas at San Antonio, Advisor, Alex Bowers

2011: Kerri J. Tobin, Identifying Best Practices for Homeless Students, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, Advisor, Joseph Murphy

2010: Hans W. Klar, Laying the groundwork for distributed instructional leadership in urban high schools: How principals foster department chair instructional leadership capacity, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Advisor, Paul V. Bredeson

2009: Jennifer K. Clayton, Changing diversity in U.S. schools: The impact on elementary student performance and achievement, Ph.D., Old Dominion University, Advisor, William Owings



Key Initiatives

Newsletter Issues

Spring 2022

Fall 2021