• A joint venture of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and the Curry School of Education, the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE) was established to support the leaders developing our nation's future.

    Drawing on the most innovative thinking in business and education, the PLE addresses the challenges and needs of education leaders in eliciting system- and school-level improvement, as well as inspiring educators and students to achieve their fullest potentials.

    In the summer of 2003, the PLE launched a program designed to develop senior education leaders' and community partners' capabilities in decision-making, change leadership and team-building. Since then the PLE's offerings have expanded to include several programs and executive development opportunities for school board members, legislators, education leaders at the state, district and building level.

    As a result of the lessons learned over the past decade, the PLE now places more emphasis on pursuing system-level change to make school-level change possible and sustainable, and ensuring that we provide our partners with intensive implementation-focused follow-up support.


    Our mission is to raise educational outcomes significantly by building on the capabilities of the Darden School of Business and the Curry School of Education in order to strengthen district and school leadership.

    The PLE believes the limited effectiveness of school system leadership and K-12 organizational design is at the root of our national education challenges.


    Our vision is to be a nationally recognized source for insights and delivery capacity, to help school systems develop their leadership capacity and to create the conditions in which these leaders can sustain success.


    PLE programs are designed based on these foundational beliefs:

    • High-impact leadership is a primary driver of student outcomes and is necessary for school transformation.
    • Re-examining school system practice is essential to any major school transformation effort.
    • Organizational transformation must be collaborative.
    • There is no single formula for school transformation.
    • Sustained change requires embedded and ongoing support, accountability and capacity-building.
    • Excellent schools have a relentless focus on addressing individual teacher and student needs, as well as learning from assessment and behavioral data.
    • Teacher effectiveness is dependent on organizational leadership, talent management and support.
    • Student achievement must be the determining indicator of success for any education leadership program.


    The PLE is distinguished by our focus on the systemic nature of leadership. We seek to:

    • Build systemic leadership capacities at the district and state levels that enable education delivery systems to establish necessary conditions
    • Develop more effective leadership practices at the school level that enable teachers to dramatically improve student outcomes
    • Ensure that leadership is seen as a primary driver of student outcomes in the field of education
    • Contribute research-based insight that strengthens leadership systems

    We believe change in the education sector is possible by:

    • Providing district and school leaders with world-class leadership development and capacity-building
    • Utilizing, conducting and disseminating research related to the drivers of effective leadership systems and demonstrating their impact
    • Helping our partners create cohesive and innovative leadership cultures
    • Building district capacity to create the right talent conditions for school transformation across the following four critical areas, also referred to as levers: leadership, differentiated support and accountability, instructional infrastructure and talent management

    Learn more about the PLE leadership team.