About the Institute

About Marshall Leadership Institute

Unlocking Powerful School Leadership to Drive Change

At Marshall Leadership Institute, we believe transformational leaders already exist within your school community. Marshall Leadership Institute helps you find and nurture those leaders. We nurture leaders through their entire career journey, from the moment a teacher first considers becoming a school leader, through the early stages of leadership, to the time they’re ready to lead change beyond the walls of a single school. Our vision is that every school in the country has a leader who is willing and able to make their school better on behalf of every student they serve.


Our Values

Our values guide the way we partner with public charter school communities to unlock powerful school leadership from within.

  • MS_Icon_Orange

    Cultivate Hope

    Marshall Leadership Institute models a belief in, and pursuit of, a bright future for schools and their communities. Our approaches to pipeline and leadership development are constructive, creative, and relentless in the face of obstacles.

  • MS_Icon_Orange

    Build From Where You Are

    No matter where schools or leaders are in developing their pipelines and leadership, Marshall Leadership Institute helps schools and leaders build on what they already have. Leveraging an assets-based approach, Marshall Leadership Institute helps schools and leaders learn more about their systems and themselves, define leadership for their communities, and build on their current programming.

  • MS_Icon_Orange

    Keep Improving

    We know the work to build the schools that our young people deserve is never done. At Marshall Leadership Institute, we aim not only to support schools and leaders with strategies to improve their schools, but we use those same strategies to improve our programming for those we serve.

Our Beliefs

Five fundamental beliefs guide our approach to nurturing leaders.

  • We believe leadership is developed, and exists, within a school community. Leadership just needs the proper conditions to bloom. We focus on helping school communities create these conditions.

  • Historically, school leadership has been an isolating profession, leading to burnout and turnover. Marshall Leadership Institute intentionally fosters community and connection in its school leadership development, giving leaders the ongoing supportive networks they need to thrive.

  • School leaders need skills they can apply right away. That’s why our programs are designed to be intensely practical and actionable: we leverage problem-based learning, consultancies, simulations, feedback, and reflection to build skills that can be used right away.

  • We believe there is no single “right way” to respond to the many challenges that arise on school sites. We expose leaders to a variety of solutions and help them to select the ones that fit with their authentic leadership style and school contexts.

  • Every student deserves a school experience that meets their unique needs and promotes their full potential. By helping leaders develop the mindsets and practices that support students who are traditionally underserved, Marshall Leadership Institute cultivates leaders who create equitable schools where all students thrive.

Investing in Proactive Community-Building

Melissa Petty

Principal, Lumen High School

“My work with Marshall Leadership Institute has enhanced my leadership and the experiences of students within my school. During one of our cohort sessions, we focused on the work of building a restorative school culture. After completing some powerful readings, discussing with my cohort, and receiving coaching from the Marshall Leadership Institute facilitators, I had a transformative moment: I realized that my school’s faculty’s hearts were in the right place, but our systems weren’t. I went back to my school clear on what we needed to do. We re-invested in proactive community building rather than just focusing on recovering after harm was done. Without a doubt, we made significant, systemic improvement in our culture and are moving towards a more joyful school community.”

Who We Are

Marshall Leadership Institute is run by school leaders, for school leaders.

Founded by Greg Ponikvar — former Founding Executive Director of Summit Olympus High School in Washington — and co-facilitated with school leaders from across the country, Marshall Leadership Institute is deeply rooted in the unique perspective and needs of school leaders who are working to create change at every level of their school system.

  • Katie Ryan
    Katie Ryan, Executive Director, Marshall Leadership Institute
    Katie Ryan, Executive Director, Marshall Leadership Institute

    Katie Ryan has spent the last 20 years as a leader within the education and social impact sectors. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of the Marshall Leadership Institute, Katie served as the Chief of Staff at Campaign Zero. Katie was also a founding, turnaround Principal for a public school in Denver, Colorado. Previously ranked as one of the poorest performing schools in Colorado, under her leadership, the school advanced from Red to Green in just one year and was named a “Center for Excellence” by the Colorado Department of Education.

    Katie has served as a Site Manager for TNTP (The New Teacher Project), an Assistant Principal of Instruction, an Advisor and Curriculum Writer for Teach For America, and Social Studies department chair and teacher. She holds a B.A. in Gender Studies and Political Science from N.C. State University and an M.A. in Secondary Education from New York University. When she is not supporting others knock down barriers and hone their leadership super powers, she is chasing after her three small children in beautiful Denver, Colorado or crafting something she found in the clearance aisle of Michael’s.

  • Dr. Ayanna Gore
    Dr. Ayanna Gore, Marshall Leadership Institute facilitator
    Dr. Ayanna Gore, Marshall Leadership Institute facilitator

    Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Ayanna Gore was the first in her family to receive a college degree. After college, Dr. Gore started as a high school science teacher and then went on to lead school turnaround efforts in 2016 as a school leader at Chicago Public Schools (CPS). After CPS, Dr. Gore served as a school leader and Executive Director of Summit Sierra High School in Seattle from 2018-2021 where her leadership focused on developing anti-racist leadership within students. Dr. Gore is currently the Vice President of Selection at Teach For America (TFA) working on creating equitable selection systems. Dr. Gore holds a B.S. in Biology from Loyola University—Chicago and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from DePaul University.  In her free time, she enjoys being a dance mom for her four-year-old and teaching fitness classes.

  • Kelly Garcia
    Kelly Garcia, Advisor
    Kelly Garcia, Advisor

    With nearly two decades in the classroom as a teacher and school leader at Summit Public Schools, Kelly is now the Chief of Staff supporting Summit’s 15 public schools. She is featured in Prepared: What Kids Need for a Fulfilled Life as the founding History teacher of Summit Prep. Kelly is the parent of two kids who have taught her what it means to love fiercely and passionately, even when you are wondering why they just cannot put the towels in the bathroom

  • Rahman Branch
    Rahman Branch, Marshall Leadership Institute facilitator
    Rahman Branch, Marshall Leadership Institute facilitator

    Rahman has served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, executive director, leadership coach, and expert on equity for more than 25 years. As an educator at the District of Columbia Public Schools, Rahman gained prominence as a turnaround specialist for low-performing schools. Rahman then served as the nation’s first Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs, appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, and chaired the Committee for Equity and Access in all Neighborhoods as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative. Currently, Rahman is the CEO of Inside Urban, where he helps leaders grow beyond basic diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to build anti-racist, inclusive organizations. Rahman holds a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia and a Master in Education Administration from Trinity Washington University.

Explore Our Offerings

Launched by and for school leaders, Marshall Leadership Institute helps unlock the teacher-to-school leader pipeline for public charter school communities across the United States.​

  • MS_Icon_Orange

    Pipeline Development

    Ready to build a sustainable leadership pipeline that cultivates powerful school leadership from within your community? Marshall Leadership Institute partners with school communities to build a pipeline of transformational leaders from your community.

    Learn More
  • MS_Icon_Orange

    Cohort-Based Leadership Development

    Looking for individual support for your schools’ current leaders? Marshall Leadership Institute offers cohort-based learning to accelerate the development of authentic and powerful leadership skills within your current leaders.

    Learn More
  • MS_Icon_Orange

    Personalized Coaching

    Facing a challenge and looking for responsive support from an experienced coach? Marshall Leadership Institute offers one-on-one personalized coaching to help leaders tackle the daily challenges of running a school.

    Learn More