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.

    Chief of Readiness, Tonya Kales

    Prior to joining the Darden/Curry PLE team, Tonya Kales served as a Learning Community Superintendent in Charlotte, NC.  She was responsible for 25 schools (23,000 students) ranging from PreK-middle College.  She partnered with leading education reform organizations to create new teacher roles in her schools without using additional funding.  The changes have led to academic success through increasing proficiency rates and exceeding growth standards set by the state.  

    Kales brings extensive academic and administrative experience to her current role.  Named Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Principal of the Year in 2012, Kales spent much of her career as a school principal and administrator. She was a Strategically Staffed Principal at Ashley Park Pre-K-8 School from 2009 to 2012. Prior to her tenure at Ashley Park, she was principal at McAlpine Elementary and an assistant principal at Smithfield Elementary.  She was chosen as a North Carolina Principal Fellow in 2000.  She earned her National Board certification as a teacher in 1999.

    A native of Charlotte, she holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in administration, curriculum and instruction from the University of North Carolina Charlotte, where she is pursuing a doctoral degree in educational 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 Research, Coby Meyers

    Coby Meyers is the Chief of Research of the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE) and Associate Professor of Education at UVA’s Curry School of Education. Prior to joining the PLE in 2015, Meyers was the senior researcher at American Institutes for Research where he managed AIR’s work in the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands. Meyers also led a beating-the-odds study for REL Midwest working to identify schools achieving at higher levels than expected and analyzing organizational factors that might be related to those achievement levels. 
    Meyers has also played integral roles in various school turnaround initiatives, an area in which he has presented and published, including coauthoring the book Turning Around Failing Schools: Lessons from the Organizational Sciences and multiple journal articles. He was recognized in 2012 with the Emerging Scholar Award by the American Educational Research Association special-interest group School Turnaround and Reform.
    After working as a middle and high school literature teacher, Meyers attained a master’s degree in secondary education at the University of Kentucky and earned his doctoral degree in education leadership, policy, and organizations at Vanderbilt 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.