Lead for transformative change

Student paying close attention to teacher at a desk

Leaders in educator preparation play a critical role in equipping the next generation of teachers to deliver equitable, rigorous instruction so that every student is empowered to succeed.

Rising to this challenge calls on leaders from across the field to consider what it takes to transform teacher preparation – and that’s where Impact Academy comes in.


The Impact Academy is a year-long fellowship that convenes outstanding leaders of educator-preparation programs and provides them with the support and resources to foster real and lasting change within their programs.


Fellows engage in a rich, cohort-based experience with the following features:

  • In-person and virtual learning sessions designed to build shared understanding of leadership and organizational change theory and apply these theories to real-world decision making
  • 1:1 coaching from seasoned leaders
  • Opportunities to analyze a broad set of case studies, all written by and for Impact Academy fellows
  • Peer consultancies to address field-facing challenges in real time

At the end of the year-long fellowship, all are invited to join our Leadership Collaborative, an alumni network offering continued opportunities to connect and learn.


If you were to succeed as a leader in educator preparation, what would you want to be true?

Our program is grounded in an understanding that effective leaders possess a firm sense of their values, principles and priorities – all of which serve as foundations for their work. As such, we begin by exploring who we are, what drives us, and what it takes to fulfill our role as leaders. Over the course of the year, Impact Academy fellows then go on to identify a leadership challenge they wish to address, before planning and enacting the change they hope to see.

More than 100 current fellows and alumni have engaged in transformative work through their Impact Academy experience. Read about the broad range of challenges this fellowship has supported them to lead through:


 Cheryl Holcomb-McCoyCheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean, College of Education at American University on supporting future teachers to be culturally responsive and meet the needs of their diverse learners:

“Our students are going into some of the [country’s] most diverse schools…We’re still struggling with how to talk about [race-based] issues openly and how to create an environment that’s welcoming to all.”


Trent GouldTrent Gould, Inaugural Dean, College of Education and Human Sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi on finding cross-institutional community and support as he worked to unite faculty across a range of academic disciplines:

“Nobody at our institution really understands what I do—education is just so different from other disciplines…So I was looking for a community of people that understands what I do. I needed to talk with people who could relate.”


Nancy Marchand-MartellaNancy Marchand-Martella, Provost, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and Former Dean, College of Education at Purdue University on leading her college through an “innovation initiative” to better prepare aspiring teachers:

“My leadership team feels comfortable to be able to push back and say, we think this way is better for the following reasons. The team is stronger because of what I learned through [Impact Academy].”


Christy HarrisChristy Harris, Dean, Relay Graduate School of Education-Atlanta on finding refuge in her Impact Academy community and coach during the onset of the pandemic:

“I had to help the people that I supported work through all these changes, and not only that, but help them be optimistic during a time that was really difficult. Thank goodness I had Impact Academy during that time, because it was my saving grace.”



Interested in joining Impact Academy?

The application for the 2023 cohort of Impact Academy is now closed. If you’re interested in joining a future cohort, fill out the interest form below, and our team will be in touch:

DFI is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive community for fellows. We strive to build cohorts that reflect the racial, geographic, and institutional breadth of teacher-preparation programs and leaders across the country.


You should apply if you:

  • Are, or will be, a dean or leader of an educator-preparation program during the 2023-24 academic year
  • Have a strong interest in facilitating identity-centered growth in yourself and in those you lead
  • Value learning alongside others in community
  • Prioritize instructional quality and pedagogy in the preparation of future teachers
  • Seek to ensure more equitable outcomes for teacher-candidates and the students they serve
  • Can commit to participating in all Impact Academy activities over the 2023-24 academic year
  • Want to engage in an alumni network of 100+ leaders actively collaborating and sharing best practices from across the field (upon completing the fellowship)


The 2023 fellowship includes:

  • A three-day in-person session in June 2023
  • Monthly virtual learning sessions from July 2023 through May 2024
  • A one-day in-person closing session in the summer of 2024
  • Multiple 1:1 coaching sessions with a veteran dean over the course of the 2023-24 academic year

The fee for Impact Academy is $5,495 and includes all materials, learning sessions, and at least four 1:1 coaching sessions. Financial assistance is available.


Meet Past and Current Fellows


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