Dr. Donna has over a decade of leadership experience. While her profession has been education for the last two decades, she has also served in multiple leadership roles at various levels and in various organizations outside of the education field. She is the CEO of Inspiring Leaders LLC, Director of Learning & Continuous Improvement for Greene Central School District, a Certified Professional Coach through iPEC, certified Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. Her areas of expertise include: instructional leadership, transformative leadership, adult learning, professional development, instructional coaching, mentoring, competency-based learning/grading, personalized learning, and equity-focused instruction.
Currently, in addition to her work in Greene Central School District, Dr. Donna coaches 5 educational consultants out on the Lakota Reservation and is working on a huge project to revolutionize the educational system. This project is called Ed. Matadores; it is a multi-pronged approach to creating lasting transformation to the entire educational system
Dr. Donna operates on the belief that leadership is not positional. Leadership is the act of making the lives of others better and requires a set of complex competencies and powerful mindsets that support the growth and development of people and organizations. These competencies and mindsets work across nearly all professions. A leader makes or breaks an organization and Dr. Donna strives to help leaders assets to their organizations by building their capacity.
She currently lives in upstate New York with two cats, Treble and Bassie. Her son is a US Sailor and the one thing she is most proud of. In her spare time she:
--is the co-founder, leader, president, and piccolo player of UNiTY Street Band
--serves as president of the board for Vortex Indoor Winds
--serves on the Advisory Board for Speaking of Success, Inc.
--is the co-organizer of Salt City Honk! Festival
--plays flute and piccolo for the Vestal Community Band.
Her motto has always been: "Be like NIKE..." and her favorite quote is: "Go confidently into the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined" (Thoreau)
Making a positive impact on the world is what Dr. Donna believes her purpose is on this earth. One way she does that is through education and another way is through leading a community activist street band.
More than 100 miles
I generally get paid for speaking but make exceptions
Although Dr. Donna has been a musician for decades, learning to play flute starting in 5th grade, she often recalls the moment in 2013 when she realized just how powerfully unifying music could be. She was in Austin, TX for a Honk! Festival with her band, Extraordinary Rendition Band. The first place they were going to play was at a homeless shelter. When they arrived, dozens of people were lined up outside, some in chairs, some sitting on the sidewalk. There was a lot of yelling and police were breaking up fights and trying to keep the peace.
As the band finally began to play, crossing the street, the attention of the crowd was captivated. Once the band was positioned near the building, the crowd gathered around the band, making many of them feel a bit uncomfortable after what had just been witnessed. But within a matter of minutes, angry faces relaxed and turned to smiles, arms uncrossed and loosened up. Then before long, many members of the crowd began do move and dance to the music and soon began dancing with each other. Yelling had turned to laughter and joy. The police officers were able to relax as they leaned up against the building's pillars and breathed a sigh of relief.
It became evident that music not only could set the mood and be a powerful force for individuals, but it also carried the power to drastically shift a tense situation where people were at odds with each other into a situation where those same people experienced joy together. Unification was the true power of music.
Since Kindergarten, Dr. Donna knew she wanted to teach. Playing school was her favorite thing to do as a child. After several years of teaching, she started to realize that her calling was bigger in education than just one classroom at a time. She then went to work at the state level leading new teacher induction and educator evaluation before earning her building leader certification in a transformative leadership program. Her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction propelled her forward with her deep understanding of instructional leadership. She became a building level leader and then moved into being a district level leader in an urban school district with 34 turnaround schools.
While spending over a decade as an educational leader, it became apparent that even large school districts did little to really meet the professional development needs of instructional leaders. After spending some time contemplating, she decided to put her professional coaching certification to work and founded Inspiring Leaders LLC. Her intention was to not just impact school leaders but also to support leaders in other mission-driven organizations. After a year of little growth in her side business, she participated in a week-long challenge by Executive Networking Events - an organization she was a member of. During this challenge, she reflected deeply and realized that she was not fully embracing her true expertise; it wasn't just in leadership, it was specifically in Instructional Leadership. Because of this epiphany, she made a quick turn in her business, shifted her target audience to Instructional Leaders, and started a Global Membership called the Revolutionary Circle. This membership was designed for educational leaders across the world to connect, share, collaborate, and learn together once every week.