A new class of 13 public school superintendents from across Texas have joined Holdsworth’s Superintendent Leadership Program, an 18-month program designed to support leaders as they navigate unprecedented challenges at a critical point in their career.
In the program, superintendents receive executive coaching, form networks of support with their peers and learn alongside leadership experts who push their thinking.
“You don’t understand until you’re in the role how vital navigating board and community relations is going to be,” said Dr. Kathy Rollo, superintendent of Lubbock ISD and a Holdsworth alum. “That’s been the biggest challenge for me, and is probably something that has led more superintendents to either retire or do something different. I don’t know how I would have gotten through some tough times without support from Holdsworth.”
Over the course of the pandemic and since, a wave of retirements has left an increasing number of first-time superintendents to lead through one of the most challenging periods in public education in the last half-century.
“Having well-prepared, resilient superintendents at the helm of all Texas districts is critical to confronting the challenges facing public education and delivering on the promise of an excellent education to every child,” said Dr. Lindsay Whorton, president of The Holdsworth Center. “We feel we are uniquely positioned to provide the kind of support superintendents need, and to strengthen the leadership pipeline statewide.”
Holdsworth launched the first Superintendent Leadership Program cohort in September 2021. The Center covers the cost of programming thanks to the generosity of its founder and other philanthropic supporters.
As part of the program, superintendents attend learning sessions at the Campus on Lake Austin, digging into essential leadership skills and content that addresses the unique issues and opportunities of the superintendent role. They also receive executive coaching from Holdsworth Superintendents-in-Residence Dr. Thomas Randle, Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, and Dr. Art Cavazos.
Holdsworth gives leaders a community of support from their peers, shoulders to lean on and brains to pick when they are facing a tough challenge.
“More than ever before, it is critical we ensure superintendents are able to have longevity in the seat by equipping them with the tools to be successful,” said Dr. Tory Hill, superintendent at Channelview ISD and Holdsworth alum.
The new class of leaders includes Dr. Silvia Ibarra of Valley View ISD, Dr. Milton (Rob) Fields of Judson ISD, Dr. Anjanette Murry of Crandall ISD, Dr. Anthony Mays of Alief ISD, Dr. Elna Davis of Tarkington ISD, Dr. Jana Rueter of Elgin ISD, Dr. Karen Engle of Clear Creek ISD, Dr. Laurelyn Arterbury of New Braunfels ISD, Dr. Usamah Rodgers of DeSoto ISD, Dr. Raúl Peña of Hutto ISD, Dr. Steven Wurtz of Arlington ISD (interim superintendent), Ms. Angela Dominguez of Donna ISD and Mr. Matias Segura of Austin ISD (interim superintendent).
“I’m a big believer in the power of collective forces working together to influence change,” said Raúl Peña, superintendent of Hutto ISD and a member of the new cohort. “Holdsworth will keep me focused on closing equity gaps and helping all students achieve college, career and military readiness.”