The National Education Association is continuing its journey to become a more social and racially just organization as well as position itself as a leader in the efforts to dismantle institutional and structural racism. One element of that effort is to be more intentional about creating systems to address the barriers – historically and current – that leaders of color face in aspiring to leadership, including access to opportunities for putting their experience and skill into practice. Through the Pathways Project we are focusing on members who identify as Hispanic, Latinx, Chicano, Native, Indigenous, American Indian, Black, Asian, Pacific/Islander, Native Alaskan and/or Native Hawaiian.

The Leadership Pathways pilot will serve to develop, test, and model strategies to build structural pathways for emerging leaders of color to access leadership training opportunities. Likewise, veteran leaders of color will benefit from access, and additional opportunities, to grow their leadership while serving as peer coaches for emerging leaders. The theory of change we are exploring with this pilot is that through intentional and explicit targeting and results-based collaboration with NEA State Affiliate leaders, as well as providing access to learning and experiences, accompanied by direct coaching support, we can establish and codify leadership “pathways” and begin to build for the future while nurturing and strengthening the present.

A “Cohort” of leaders of color will be selected in partnership with affiliates. Veteran leaders/Peer Coaches, up to 35-40, will have an opportunity to serve through self-identification and through recommendations shared with governance and staff leaders. The identified Cohort, between 35-40 members, will utilize existing and aligned NEA experiences: Minority Leadership Training/Women’s Leadership Training (MLT/WLT), National Leadership Summit and Conference on Racial and Social Justice (CRSJ). In addition to the alignment, these experiences are grounded in the NEA Leadership Competency framework and appeal to leaders at all levels: Foundational, Mobilizing and Power Building, and Agenda Driving. The cohorts’ involvement does not diminish current opportunities with these NEA experiences, but would be in addition to current leadership development opportunities provided to members via multiple NEA experiences, in addition to those previously mentioned.

This initiative intends to create and institutionalize a systemically sustainable and structurally efficient collective learning model to support the development of the next generation of Association and education leaders of color, as well as support for veteran leaders.  We believe “Pathways” can serve as a vehicle to engage experienced and veteran leaders in open dialogue about their experiences and to facilitate shared learning experiences. These leaders can also serve as coaches to members of the “Cohort” effectively establishing practices around collective learning and support, creating conditions we believe will lead to an increase in the number of leaders of color assuming formal and informal leadership in the Association and professions. The future of our Association and the labor movement calls for us to utilize proven strategies and apply them in imaginative ways to realize new and profound racial and social justice outcomes.


The NEA Leaders of Color Pathways Project (LOCPP) is a year-long, cohort-based learning and development journey that supports educators of color to grow as leaders and activists in the local, state, and national associations.  This project is the organization’s attempt to address the systemic underrepresentation of educators of color in formal and informal leadership positions at all levels of the association.

If selected, peer coaches and cohort members will be expected to participate in every component of the program. The commitment includes face-to-face trainings at the following convenings:

  • NEA Minority Leadership Training and Women’s Leadership Training (MLT/WLT) Seminar (Thursday, January 23 – Sunday, January 26, 2020)
  • NEA National Leadership Summit (Thursday, March 12 – Sunday, March 15, 2020)
  • NEA Conference on Racial and Social Justice (CRSJ) (Saturday, June 27 – Wednesday, July 1, 2020)

Additionally, participants will be expected to engage in bridging activities between each face-to-face meeting, regularly engage with coaches, and participate in rigorous evaluation and follow-up after year one of the program.

Selection in this project will also require leaders to secure written agreement from their state affiliate president. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) helps to create accountability between the participant, their affiliate, and the National Education Association. The MOA is also a critical component of the partnership that NEA seeks to create with state affiliates to create maximum, appropriate involvement and partnership, including follow-up and inclusion in leadership opportunities after year one of the project.


  • Applications are available online electronically by using the following link: on October 11, 2019. Any member can apply to be a Cohort Member or Peer Coach. All applications must be received by FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2019.
  • Applicants will be notified of acceptance by Friday, November 22, 2019.
  • Selected applicants/cohort members will be required to submit a signed Memorandum of Agreement.