Keynote Speakers

Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Virginia

Advocacy Leadership: A Human Centered Approach to Fostering Equity and Excellence

Many schools that serve low-income students and students of color have been and continue to be inequitable with little sign of change in sight.  The current frenetic churn of policy changes and disinvestment in education makes sustaining good schools and improving struggling schools more difficult. Teachers, principals, and many parents are finding that their shared understandings of good teaching and learning and other aspects of schooling clash with demands for accountability. Leadership in the current context needs to be thought of as advocacy for and with their school community, including students, educational professionals, parents and community members.

Advocacy leadership is distinguished by five important characteristics: 1) a human-centered approach, 2) an equity orientation, 3) a commitment to culturally responsive practice, 4) a dedication to excellence through continuous improvement, and 5) a commitment to critical-reflection.

Advocacy leaders engage their school communities in empowering and humanizing ways and build school environments in which all students and adults can be successful.


Michelle is the former Executive Director of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). Her scholarship centres on how university programs, educational policies and school leaders can support equitable and quality experiences for students and adults who learn and work in schools. Dr Young’s work, which has been recognised by several awards, has been published in a variety of top tier journals, including the Review of Educational Research and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. In addition to this, she was presented with the William J. Davis award for the most outstanding article published in a volume of the Educational Administration Quarterly.

Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Hull

Education Leadership for Social Change:
Re-focusing the Agenda

This presentation argues that educational leadership needs to highlight ‘multi-level sustainability’ much more in its thought and practice than is currently the case. Such advocacy is seen as needed to counter current threats to various forms of sustainability, including threats to the sustainability of educational leaders. This presentation highlights four such threats: positive feedback, exponential doubling, insufficient or excessive degrees of connectivity, and a failure to recognise the range of ‘wicked’ problems.

These processes have significant effects upon many levels of sustainability, through a greater lack of predictability and control of situations, an increase in the speed of change, and an increase in the likelihood of ‘tipping points’. A number of significant implications for leadership thought and practice are then argued for, including the dangers of standardisation, the need to celebrate greater individuality and context, and the need to recognise that ‘messy’ solutions may be the only ones available in the solving of many problems. These implications could alter the manner in which major aspects of educational leadership are viewed, and also point to an urgent need for such endorsement in the larger  society.


In addition to Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Hull, Mike is also a former member of the BELMAS Council. Throughout his career, he has published eight books on the issues of educational leadership, values and sustainability. These include The Morality of the School: The Theory and Practice of Values in Education (1998), Education, Policy and Ethics (2001), Education The Challenges of Educational Leadership (2004), and Educational Leadership for a More Sustainable World (2016).


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