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 Programs, Scott Guggenheimer 

    Scott Guggenheimer is the chief of programs of the Darden/Curry PLE. Prior to his current role, Scott served as a Director of Leadership Development in District of Columbia Public Schools and, prior to that, as the executive director of African American Teaching Fellows. 

    In these roles he has designed and delivered high-quality programming for college students, teachers, school administrators, and central office staff and senior leadership. At DCPS, he helped shape the leadership journey of aspiring principals, with the goal of providing the most powerful learning experience of their lives, thereby empowering new principals to work for transformative change in their schools. 

    Scott’s background is as an English teacher and administrator in a Title I high school in Washington, DC. He earned his B.A at Washington and Lee 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 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 Support, Eric Thomas

    Prior to the University of Virginia, Eric Thomas was the Chief Innovation Officer for the Cincinnati Public Schools. As a member of the superintendent’s cabinet, Thomas’ responsibilities included redesigning the district’s teacher evaluation system, leading new district improvement initiatives, facilitating the development of new schools, and launching a Principal Development Academy.

    Thomas became acquainted with the University of Virginia when he was asked to join the district’s “turnaround initiative” after successfully leading turnaround efforts as a building principal. The district’s turnaround success resulted in Cincinnati becoming the top urban school district in Ohio.  Eric’s practical turnaround experience is buttressed by his research, culminating in his dissertation which explored the role and practices of district leaders during turnaround.

    Dr. Thomas has been an instructor in the University of Cincinnati’s Educational Leadership program and has supported the Ohio Department of Education’s efforts to address low-performing districts. He has been a featured speaker, most often with a focus on leadership development, turnaround, and ways to support the needs of at-risk males.