PLE Leadership

  • Executive Director, William Robinson

    William Robinson is the executive director of the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE). Robinson has been with the PLE since 2010, initially overseeing efforts to transform how the PLE supports district partners and builds executive education programs focused on systemic change.

    Robinson is a graduate of Harvard Business School and an Education Pioneers alumnus. Prior to joining the PLE, he completed consulting work for various education organizations, including the D.C. Public Education Fund, the Center for Better Schools and Stand for Children. Robinson began his career at McMaster-Carr Supply Company, where he helped manage its supply chain operations in Atlanta, Georgia. Robinson earned his B.A. in economics from Princeton University.

    National Turnaround Consultant, Josie Hernandez-Gutierrez

    Josie Hernandez-Gutierrez, an experienced educator and administrator, most recently worked as an assistant superintendent in the Dallas Independent School District, where she led school transformation in 62 schools at both the elementary and secondary level. Previously, Hernandez-Gutierrez worked in the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) for 17 years as a director of school leadership, principal, assistant principal and teacher. In FWISD, she opened and led the Office of Transformational Leadership and School Improvement (OTLSI). The OTLSI opened in December 2010 to oversee the Redesign to Increase Schools of Excellence (RISE) initiative. 

    Hernandez-Gutierrez graduated from Texas Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in education. She then attained her master’s and doctorate degrees in education administration at the University of North Texas in Denton. Hernandez-Gutierrez is deeply committed to school improvement characterized by innovative strategies, strong turnaround leadership wise allocation of resources, operational flexibility and strategic leadership.

    Chief of Data, Mike Kight

    Prior to joining the Darden/Curry PLE, Michael Kight served as the principal of a high-performing urban middle school in the city of Richmond, Virginia, for seven years. Under his leadership, student test scores increased from the 50th percentile to the 93rd percentile in English, mathematics, science and history. Prior to this assignment, he was an assistant principal and a fourth and fifth grade teacher.

    In 2009, Kight was awarded the R.E.B. Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership for Richmond City Schools. In 2011, he was one of only two principals in Richmond who earned the Level II Principal of Distinction endorsement from the Virginia Department of Education for improving student achievement, displaying effective instructional leadership and creating a positive effect on school climate and culture.

    Kight received his B.S. in elementary and middle education from West Virginia University and his M.Ed. in education administration and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Chief of Programs, Abigail Rossetti

    Abigail Rossetti is the chief of programs of the Darden/Curry PLE. Prior to her current role, Abigail held a number of positions at Teach For America and was most recently the senior managing director of Teach For America's Chicago Institute. Her institute was responsible for training more than 600 teachers each year in partnership with the Chicago public schools.

    Abigail is also a Teach For America alumna and taught middle school special education at Monaco Middle School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Abigail earned an B.A. in political science from the University of Vermont, an M.Ed from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is currently pursuing her MBA at Darden.  

    Chief of Support, Eric Thomas

    Prior to joining the University of Virginia full-time in 2012, Eric Thomas was the executive director of the Office of Innovation of the Cincinnati Public School system. As a member of the superintendent’s senior management team, Thomas’ responsibilities included redesigning the district’s teacher evaluation system, overseeing the implementation of the district’s nearly $35-million Race to the Top and Teacher Incentive Fund grants, facilitating the development of new schools and launching the Principal Development Academy.

    Thomas became acquainted with the University of Virginia when he was asked to join the district’s turnaround efforts as a Turnaround Principal Coach.

    Thomas has served as an instructor in the University of Cincinnati’s Educational Leadership program and contributed to the development of the Ohio Department of Education’s Urban Principal Licensure. Thomas has been a featured speaker, most often with a focus on developing a positive school culture, leadership development, school turnaround strategies and ways to support the needs of African-American males.