Principals Group Congratulate Principal Ambassador Fellows and Commend USED

Principals Groups Congratulate Principal Ambassador Fellows and Commend USED

Contact: Bob Farrace

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) selects four school leaders to serve as advisors to Secretary Duncan and USED staff during the 2015–16 school year

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and New Leaders congratulate Alicia Perez-Katz, Chris Pearson, Jessica Nauiokas, and Joe Manko on their selection as 2015–16 Principal Ambassador Fellows.

In many ways, these outstanding school leaders reflect the diversity of the dedicated principals leading schools across the country—supporting students on the West Coast and East Coast, at the prekindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school levels, and in traditional district and charter school settings.

The Fellows were selected based on their leadership and demonstrated effectiveness in improving student achievement, communication skills, experience implementing federal programs and initiatives, and commitment to strengthening federal education policies to improve the recruitment, preparation, development, and support of great school leaders. Moreover, Ms. Perez-Katz, Mr. Pearson, Ms. Nauiokas, and Mr. Manko have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to making schools great places for teachers to work and students to learn, leading a variety of innovative and successful approaches to school improvement.

“The Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program codifies the belief that principals have a great deal of knowledge and authority to contribute to public policy discussions,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “We applaud the Department of Education for its ongoing support and inclusion of principals and we look forward to working with this year’s outstanding Fellows.”

“Principal Ambassador Fellows provide invaluable practical knowledge and expertise directly from the field as the Department works to better understand how to provide professional support for the nation’s instructional leaders,” said Gail Connelly, NAESP Executive Director. “As the second most important factor in raising student achievement next to an effective teacher, we look forward to shaping policies and programs that will ultimately strengthen and improve support for principals in partnership with USED and the principal ambassadors.”

“We are thrilled that the Administration has, once again, signaled the importance of school leaders by investing in the Principal Ambassador Fellowship program,” said Jaime Aquino, New Leaders Chief Program Officer. “In particular, I am pleased that New Leader Principals Jessica Nauiokas and Joe Manko will have the opportunity to share their expertise and help strengthen federal school leadership policies.”

The Principal Ambassador Fellowship program was launched by USED in 2013 to forge deeper connections between federal officials and school practitioners, to provide excellent principals with opportunities to learn about the federal policymaking process, and, ultimately, to strengthen federal education policies and programs to better reflect the experience and expertise of great school leaders.

The Fellowship program is a key way federal officials are working to get the principal perspective into policymaking and to encourage better and greater investment in school leadership at the local, state, and federal levels. NAESP, NASSP, and New Leaders commend USED for continuing this invaluable initiative, which has helped shine a spotlight on the important role principals play as instructional leaders who support teachers to elevate their instruction and enhance student learning.

Alicia Perez-Katz, the Washington, DC Fellow, will be based full-time at USED during the 2015-2016 school year. Chris Pearson, Jessica Nauiokas, and Joe Manko, the Campus Fellows, will work with USED on a part-time basis while continuing to serve and lead their schools in Washington, New York, and Maryland, respectively.


Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) leads in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle school principals in the United States and internationally. NAESP supports principals as the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning through policy development, advocacy, professional development programs, and resources for effective instructional leadership. NAESP advances the profession on behalf of all principals, providing specialized support and mentoring for early career principals. Key focus areas include preK–3 education, school safety, technology and digital learning, and capacity-building educator evaluation. To learn more about NAESP, please visit NAESP administers the National Principals Resource Center and the American Student Council Association.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States and 35 countries around the world. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high-quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor SocietyNational Junior Honor SocietyNational Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils.

About New Leaders
New Leaders is a national nonprofit that develops transformational school leaders and designs effective leadership policies and practices for school systems across the country. Since 2000, New Leaders has developed more than 1,600 principals and teacher leaders who are currently impacting the lives of 14,000 teachers and 350,000 students, measurably raising achievement levels and graduation rates in more than 15 districts and 100 charter schools nationwide. New Leaders further advances school leadership by publishing research and policy recommendations and by providing support to states and districts on the implementation of effective leadership policies, practices, and strategies. To learn more about New Leaders, please visit


Kaylen Tucker, Assistant Executive Director, Public Affairs and Communications

Bob Farrace, Director, Public Affairs

New Leaders
Georgia West, Director, Marketing and Communications