SMU Institute for Leadership Impact Welcomes 2021-2022 District Leadership Fellows

“I would say that District Leadership Fellows definitely saved me . . . in so many ways. I felt like I wasn’t alone.” – Khechara Bradford(Deputy Superintendent of Learning, Providence Public Schools, RI) 

District Leadership Fellows 2021-2022 Cohort

With 27 participating school leaders, the newest cohort of SMU’s District Leadership Fellows is the largest since the program was founded in 2016. The cohort, which hails from school districts in Arkansas, New Mexico, New York, and Texas, includes participants who hold many different leadership positions in districts of many different sizes. 

The SMU District Leadership Fellows program is a strengths-based leadership development program that enhances the leadership abilities of established and emerging school district leaders through an intensive year-long cohort. Through collaboration with peers and recognized education experts, Fellows are empowered to solve hard problems in their districts, build their leadership skills, and develop lasting educational leadership networks. The program is hosted by the Institute for Leadership Impact in the Simmons School of Education & Human Development at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. 

Dr. Eric G. Bing, the director of the District Leadership Fellows program, remarked that the program has undergone significant changes in response to the challenges faced by school leaders in a time of public health uncertainty. According to Dr. Bing, the program has expanded to include leaders from many different regions and types of communities, and has increased its focus on addressing problems related to student well-being and gaps in learning. 

Who’s in the 2021-2022 cohort? 

School leaders in the upcoming cohort of the District Leadership Fellows program include Dr. Debbie Atwell (Superintendent, Mountainburg Public Schools, AR), Mrs. Akilah Bennings (District Instructional Coordinator, RMA Texas Public Schools, TX), Mr. Chris Bradshaw (Superintendent, Maud ISD, TX), Dr. Michelle Cline (Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD, TX), Mr. Matt Cole (Superintendent, Livonia Central School District, NY), Dr. James Cowley (Superintendent of Schools, Groesbeck ISD, TX), Mr. Zach Crawford (Superintendent, Zavalla ISD, TX), Mr. Brandon Dennard, (Lead Learner / Superintendent, Red Lick ISD, TX), Mrs. Althea Dixon (Assistant Superintendent, Paris ISD, TX), Dr. Wendy Eldredge (Superintendent, Crandall ISD, TX), Mr. Mark Ferrer, (Assistant Superintendent – Human Resources, New Diana ISD, TX), Dr. Kimberly Gilmore Madkins (Assistant Superintendent of School Leadership, Edgewood ISD, TX), Dr. Matthew Gutierrez (Superintendent, Seguin ISD, TX), Dr. Eduardo Hernandez (Superintendent, Edgewood ISD, TX), Dr. Angela Herron (Chief Teaching & Learning Officer, Grand Prairie ISD, TX), Dr. Darin Jolly (Deputy Superintendent, Ennis ISD, TX), Dr. Thurston Lamb (Superintendent, Henderson ISD, TX), Ms. Malinda Lindsey (Superintendent, Kennard ISD, TX), Mr. Joe Lopez (Superintendent of Schools, Kermit ISD, TX), Dr. Deidre Parish (Superintendent, Darrouzett ISD, TX), Dr. Brenda Poole (Superintendent, Brinkley Public Schools, AR), Dr. Andy Reddock (Superintendent, Flatonia ISD, TX), Dr. Gene Schmidt (Superintendent, Farmington Municipal Schools, NM), Dr. Lisa Stanley (Superintendent, North Texas Collegiate Academy, TX), Dr. Des Stewart (Superintendent, Gainesville ISD, TX), Mr. Art Urquidi (most recently Assistant Superintendent, Lake Worth ISD, TX), Dr. Sandi Whitley (Executive Director of Leadership Development, Forney ISD, TX). Drs. Cline, Jolly, Parish, and Reddock are returning Fellows. 

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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