Leadership Training

An SMU District Leadership Fellow Reflects on Her Experience

I would say that District Leadership Fellows definitely saved me this year, in so many ways. I felt like I wasn’t alone. – Khechara Bradford

Khechara Bradford, 2020-2021 SMU District Leadership Fellow
Khechara Bradford, 2020-2021 SMU District Leadership Fellow

The 2020-2021 cohort of SMU’s District Leadership Fellows program first convened during an ongoing public health crisis that has stretched school leaders thin. Faced with mounting infections in their districts, new public health guidelines, and other challenges, many district leaders felt completely overwhelmed by the time the cohort kicked off several months into the pandemic.

Khechara Bradford, now the Deputy Superintendent of Learning at Providence Schools in Providence, Rhode Island, joined the cohort in the hope that she could find a community of people in similar situations to hers, who could help her navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Half a year into her fellowship, Bradford noted that “in school leadership, you sometimes feel so alone. You’re the only chief academic officer, you’re the only superintendent, you’re the only deputy superintendent, and then coming together, we really have this community where we’re able to share our experiences and find so many commonalities.”

During their year-long fellowship, District Leadership Fellows collaborate to solve problems of practice in their districts. Bradford told us that her time collaborating with other educational leaders in the program “reminded [her] of [her] purpose for doing this work: it isn’t about a title or a job description, it’s about a deep passion for supporting public education.”

As our discussion concluded, Bradford told us that “if there’s any leaders out there who are looking for something to take their leadership to the next level or to really refine their practices, this is an amazing program that they will get so much more than just a technical knowledge out of.”

Learn more and apply to join the next cohort of District Leadership Fellows here.

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at, and engage with us on Twitter. 

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