State’s Top K-12 Education Leaders Aim High Nationally in Leadership Florida® Year-Long Forum Series

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Key Leaders Selected for Inaugural “Leadership in Education” Class

Tallahassee, Fla. – Finding the path to vault Florida’s K-12 public schools to national prominence is the central goal for Leadership Florida’s inaugural statewide class of “Leadership in Education” participants. The 34-member class includes accomplished superintendents, school board members, principals, teachers, state education department professionals, education foundation representatives, association leaders, business partners and other public officials. Over the course of eight months, the class will intensively focus on critical education, issues, problems, obstacles and challenges in four rigorous program sessions.

“For nearly 35 years, Leadership Florida has convened diverse leaders from every sphere of influence to develop and build a deeper sense of statewide community in our state and to nurture new leaders,” said Wendy Walker, president of Leadership Florida. “Now, for leaders who are passionate about ensuring that Florida has the best K-12 education system possible, we are going to adapt our model to ignite their ability to work together to achieve that goal.”

Each session of Leadership in Education will provide program participants -- as well as the communities they serve -- with a comprehensive look at K-12 education from international, national and statewide perspectives for the purpose of advancing K-12 outcomes in Florida and securing our state’s place as a top-tier education leader. The first program session will be held in September in Howey-in-the-Hills, focusing on educational systems, examining best practices from around the globe. The three following sessions will be held in Sarasota, Jacksonville and Ft. Lauderdale and will focus on schools, classrooms and partnerships and innovation, respectively.

The Leadership in Education Program has been made possible through a unique partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Helios Education Foundation, endowing Leadership Florida with new resources to create and produce this program. This partnership recognizes Leadership Florida’s unique position as the state’s most respected non-partisan convener of leaders on critical issues facing Florida’s future. Each organization recognizes that no issue is more important than education – an education that enhances the opportunity for all young people to have the life they deserve.

“Florida has made tremendous improvement in K-12 education over the last 15 years,” said Paul Luna, Helios Education Foundation President and CEO, “we are confident that Leadership Florida, by bringing Florida’s diverse education leaders together, will continue to propel the state’s public education system forward ensuring more Florida students are prepared to succeed in college and career.”

Luna added that education leaders participating in the inaugural program will “share with and learn from each other -- as well as from some of the country’s sharpest thinkers and doers – to support Florida’s forward motion.”

Members of the inaugural class will be challenged to apply what they learn in their own work, whether it is in a classroom or a boardroom. The partners also intend for class members to build trusting relationships statewide that can be leveraged for the rest of their careers on behalf of Florida’s students, families and educators.

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About Leadership Florida

For thirty-four years, Leadership Florida has developed a reputation as a builder of a stronger, diverse statewide sense of community. A respected non-partisan convener of committed individuals, Leadership Florida enhances the knowledge and leadership abilities of Florida’s leaders through educational programs and by encouraging collaborative work for the betterment of our state. More than 1,800 men and women have graduated from Leadership Florida programs. Collectively, members of Leadership Florida serve on more than 5,000 corporate and non-profit boards throughout the state, providing key leadership in their local communities and in the state.

About the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources- have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

About Helios Education Foundation

Helios Education Foundation is focused on creating opportunities for individuals to succeed in postsecondary education by advancing the academic preparedness of all students and fostering a high-expectation, college-going culture in Arizona and Florida. The Foundation focuses its investments across the education continuum in three key impact areas: Early Grade Success, College and Career Readiness and Postsecondary Completion. As an engaged foundation, embedded in communities across both states, the Foundation is contributing its expertise and financial resources to better prepare students for college and career and to compete successfully in a globally-competitive economy. Since 2006, Helios has invested over $155 million in education-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida.