Leadership and Governance


CEI partners with superintendents, school boards, and district leadership teams to strengthen district systems change efforts and develop a pipeline of leaders who are prepared to lead this work.

We support school districts to develop and sustain courageous leadership and aligned governance through:
  • Increasing leadership team capacity through cross-district collaboration.
  • Strengthening leadership quality through executive coaching.
  • Facilitating strategic plan development and providing support for implementation.
  • Building high-quality district governance teams.

We currently partner with 37 districts on their leadership and governance efforts, including Rural Superintendents Academy, District Network Collaborative, Strategic and School Improvement Planning, Implementation and Sustainability Planning, Executive Coaching, and Board Governance Training.


District Strategic Planning and Implementation Supports:

CEI partners with school districts to develop comprehensive three- to five-year strategic plans that are community-based, student-centered, and aligned to ensure that schools are preparing Colorado students to thrive in their post-secondary experiences. CEI uses a human-centered design lens to ensure the work is deeply informed by stakeholder ideas, preferences, and experiences. We design and facilitate a multi-phase process that prioritizes authentic community engagement, is informed by data, and builds on existing efforts that produce effective outcomes for students. CEI supports districts to roll out, build buy in and ownership, and measure and report progress made toward the strategic initiatives outlined in the plans. This results in the creation of a vision and plan that has significant support from diverse members of the community and a true sense of collective ownership of the outcomes by all stakeholders.

District strategic planning work is often also anchored in the development of a community- created Graduate Profile, which acts as a North Star to unite diverse school and district stakeholder groups around a common vision for their students. Learn more and see examples here.

Rural Superintendent Academy (RSA):

Made possible with support from the Boettcher Foundation, RSA is a leadership fellowship that supports new and experienced superintendents and district and school leaders to develop and advance rural system leadership capacity and collaborative relationships across the state. Fellows expand their leadership expertise by studying how to create conditions for excellence in district governance, community leadership, and district operational capacity. RSA supports fellows to build adaptive and responsive relationships among students and families, communities, school boards, and staff as they collectively work toward the goal of long-term success and sustainability for their districts and communities.

RSA is facilitated by CEI leaders and veteran superintendents George Welsh, Karen Quanbeck, and Alex Carter to make it a powerful growth experience for every fellow. Learn more here.

District Network Collaborative (DNC):

CEI convenes district leadership teams virtually and in person seven times throughout the school year to surface unique and common topics, receive coaching and technical assistance, learn from and thought partner with other district leaders, discuss improvement planning efforts, and strengthen team culture. District teams receive personalized facilitation and coaching support from CEI staff and engage in dedicated time for team planning and cross-district networking.

Executive Coaching:

CEI provides ongoing, intensive executive coaching to superintendents and key district leaders to strengthen their work in managing crises, strategizing to move their districts forward, and managing effective school board relationships. We use an assets-based mindset to help leaders think through challenges, understand problems from multiple perspectives, and approaches and consider both how to respond and what the result will be.

Governance Team Workshops:

CEI partners with school districts to provide customized support to build strong governance teams during times of transition. We use workshops to help elected boards develop and commit to working norms, coalesce around concrete goals and expectations for their district leader, and set board goals and operational standards for the coming school year.

School District Board Planning and New Superintendent Transition Support:

CEI supports districts and their school boards to strengthen governance systems and structures that enable staff and community members to work together in an atmosphere of care and respect to help ensure every student has access to an array of educational programs designed to foster their unique academic, vocational, and personal strengths. We create a customized scope of services that addresses local needs through support across four core focus areas:

  • School board retreats and monthly work sessions.
  • School board professional learning and networking opportunities with other highly effective boards across Colorado.
  • School Board member strategic planning and executive coaching focused on emerging issues.
  • Executive coaching as part of new superintendent onboarding, including orientation to the Colorado context. 


“CEI has led some amazing work in our district including the most engaging and clear strategic plan, including graduate profile, that I have seen in my 20+ years in the district. They have also followed up with guidance and resources that have transformed the way we look at community engagement, strategic planning, and equity!”

– Summit School District Partner