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.

    District Support Chief, Laura Burgos

    Laura Burgos, Ed.L.D. ’18, currently serves as a Senior Director, District Support Chief for the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education. A former New York City public school teacher, Laura has spent over 15 years leading change efforts in traditional public, nonprofit, and private education settings.
     
    Laura recently completed the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During this time, she completed a residency at the Center for Educational Leadership in Seattle, WA. Her work focused on understanding the relationship between mission, strategy, and impact in meeting the needs of school and district leaders. Prior to her doctoral work, Laura served as the Managing Director of Program for Citizen Schools, where she oversaw expanded learning time programs in public middle schools and ensured access to rigorous, career-based apprenticeships. 

    Laura began her career in education as an AmeriCorps New York City Teaching Fellow and has served as a leader in both traditional public and charter school settings. 

    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 

    District Support Chief, 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.

    Senior Project Director, David Kutas

    David Kutas is a Senior Project Director with the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE), and has been with the PLE since 2014, initially serving as a project-focused alumnus of Education Pioneers. Through his experience in the private, non-profit, and public sectors, David provides leadership on how the PLE can continue to meet partner needs as they strive to meet the needs of their students. 

    David is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Bryan School of Business and is finishing up a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction at the Curry School of Education at The University of Virginia. Prior to joining the PLE, he was a Marketing and Business Manager for The Mailbox Books, and completed consulting and research-driven work for various education organizations, including Communities in Schools, The Center for Creative Leadership, and the Curry School of Education at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  

    Chief of Partnership, Leighann Lenti

    Leighann Lenti joined PLE as Chief of Partnership in 2018. Prior to joining PLE, Leighann spent 2.5 years at the College Board and 5 years at the New Mexico Public Education Department. While serving as the Deputy Secretary for Policy and Program in New Mexico, Leighann oversaw the state’s implementation of standards and assessments, school accountability, teacher evaluation, options for parents, PreK and early literacy, college and career readiness and school turnaround – including working with New Mexico school districts while they were PLE partners.

    In total, Leighann has over 15 years of experience working on education policy at the federal and state levels, including the U.S. Senate, U.S. Department of Education, the New Mexico Public Education Department and Office of Governor Schwarzenegger. 

    Leighann earned a M.A. in politics and education from Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York City, as well as a B.A. in integrative studies, liberal studies for education, from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

    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. 

    District Support Chief, Dara Wilson

    Dara Wilson is a leader in education, committed to maximizing student success for every student.  She joined the University of Virginia’s Darden/Curry Partners for Leaders in Education (PLE) as a District Support Chief in June 2018, after participating in the program for three years in her district role as Area Superintendent.  Prior to joining the PLE, she had a 32  year tenure in public schools, where she served as a special education teacher, curriculum support teacher, principal, area executive director, assistant superintendent, achievement zone officer and area superintendent.  Throughout her tenure, she was charged with leading schools to dramatic academic outcomes for students, often serving the most economically disadvantaged and underserved populations in the school district.  She has extensive experience in working with Title I, special education and ESOL populations and a proven track record of positive results.  As a principal for 16 years, she lead each of the three elementary schools, where she served as principal, to award winning status at the local, state and national level and received numerous personal recognitions and awards including being named the recipient of the Jo Richardson Principal of the Year award.  

    In her last role as Area Superintendent, she lead extensive efforts to turnaround the lowest performing schools across the district, while supervising 30 principals and over 30,000 students, and ultimately ignited the district to create a Strategic Support Model to provide differentiated supports to schools based on student needs and performance across the district serving over 100 schools. Dara earned a Bachelor Degree in Special Education from the University of Georgia and a Masters and Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University.