New Report Provides Road Map to Increase Diversity in Education

Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers Lay Out Measurable Steps for K-12 Education Organizations

BOSTON (Tuesday, December 9, 2014) – A new report released today by Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers provides a road map with specific measurable steps to increase racial/ethnic diversity at the leadership level in K-12 public education organizations.

Human capital representatives and senior leaders from 44 leading public education organizations across the U.S. participated in a comprehensive 64-question quantitative survey. The results can be found in the final report titled “From Intention to Action: Building Diverse, Inclusive Teams in Education to Deepen Impact.”

With this report, Koya Leadership Partners, a nationally recognized executive search firm dedicated to the nonprofit sector, and Education Pioneers, a leading national human capital education nonprofit, set out to understand the commitments to diversity that public education organizations are putting into place, and what best practices are currently working. Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers are using the findings to offer effective solutions that serve as a roadmap for organizations seeking new ways to increase diversity and inclusion.

“It’s clear leaders in public education organizations understand the importance of a diverse leadership team and are committed to increasing racial diversity, however, many don’t have the practices in place to build and retain diverse teams,” said Julayne Virgil, vice president of Sector Impact for Education Pioneers and a report co-author. “Our goal with this report is to provide these organizations with concrete steps that push toward real and measurable action in finding solutions.”

According to the report, 98 percent of the participating organizations support diversity, while only 33 percent describe diversity as a core value, 31 percent have a clear definition of diversity, 26 percent have a budget for diversity-related initiatives, and only 5 percent have an individual on staff responsible for diversity.

Although students of color account for nearly half of the total student population in the U.S., the results of the report reaffirm that leadership in the participating organizations does not mirror the student base. At the director level, only 39 percent of leaders are people of color. At the vice president level, the number dips to 18 percent.

In an effort to move from collective good intention to meaningful action, Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers present a range of best practices for education organizations based on the results and best practices found in the research, including a Diversity Audit Checklist that organizations can use. The recommendations include:

  1. Customize the vision and strategy
  2. Focus on impact and metrics
  3. Focus on the recruiting and selection process
  4. Invest in leadership development to retain high performers
  5. Ensure ongoing discussion

“There is no silver bullet for building diverse and inclusive teams,” said Molly Brennan, managing partner of Koya Leadership Partners and co-author of the report. “Rather, many different strategies, techniques, and tools need to be employed, woven into the fabric of an organization at all levels and in all activities. The students and families served by education organizations deserve innovative, effective solutions that can only be developed by high-performing, diverse teams of dedicated professionals.”

The report goes on to highlight several role model nonprofit education organizations that are being deliberate about developing diverse teams. Relay Graduate School of Education (GSE), for example, has developed effective culture- and goal-aligned strategies to ensure diverse teams.

Relay, a nonprofit school with an innovative master’s degree program for effective and successful teachers and school leaders, developed a Diversity Steering Committee (DSC) in 2012. The group drafted a diversity statement, planned institution-wide training in culture competence, organized discussion groups about identity, and researched and planned ways to increase diversity of the staff. Two years later, the percentage of full-time staff at GSE who identified as underrepresented staff increased from 11 percent to 19 percent, and the percentage of women in senior leadership positions at Relay GSE increased from 30 percent to 66 percent.

“We commit to diversity, not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing to do,” said Pamela Inbasekaran, Relay Graduate School of Education’s chief talent officer. “It’s this continual reflection and the dedication to improve that will eventually create the type of culture that attracts high-quality, diverse talent.”

Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a national executive search firm dedicated to the nonprofit sector to recruit and retain exceptionally talented and diverse professionals who can make a lasting impact. Koya is committed to its clients and to the missions that they serve. Recent clients include the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, ACLU, the Kresge Foundation, Slow Food USA, Education Pioneers, and Global Fund for Women. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners visit or @KoyaPartners on Twitter.

Education Pioneers

Education Pioneers unleashes the potential of leaders and managers to transform education for all students. Through prestigious fellowships and ongoing alumni and partner services, the national nonprofit strengthens the ranks of talented leaders, managers and analysts in school districts, charter school organizations, education agencies, nonprofits and more to support strong teaching and learning results. Education Pioneers aims to ensure that every student receives an outstanding education by its 20th anniversary in 2023. For more information about Education Pioneers visit or @edpioneers on Twitter.


PRESS CONTACT: Kate McCary or 978-518-4819

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