International Summit

January 1st, 2017 by


2017 UCEA International Summit

Indigenous Perspectives on Educational Leadership

Unlike in years past, this year’s UCEA International Summit will be comprised of two sessions held during the conference, as opposed to a half-day session at the end.  The theme of this year’s Summit is Indigenous Perspectives on Educational Leadership. The first session will to be held Fri. Nov. 17 (7 – 9:10 am) and will feature our keynote presenters Dr. Chris Sarra and Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE (bios below).  Our second session, to will be held on Sat. Nov. 18 (4:20 – 5:30 pm) at the invitation of the International Successful School Leadership Center, will continue our discussion of Indigenous Perspectives on Educational Leadership, featuring an indigenous school leader from the Denver area (TBA) and Dr. Sarra and Mrs. Campbell-Stephens as discussants.

Dr. Chris Sarra is an internationally recognised Indigenous education specialist and the founder and Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute. He grew up in Bundaberg in Queensland and is the youngest of ten children. As an Aboriginal student, he experienced first-hand many of the issues faced by Indigenous students in schools. Since becoming a teacher in 1988 he has dedicated his career to sticking up for his people and his profession.  In the late 1990s, Chris took on the challenges of Indigenous education when he became the first Aboriginal Principal of Principal of Cherbourg State School in South East Queensland.  Under his leadership, the school became nationally acclaimed for its pursuit of the Stronger Smarter philosophy, which significantly improved the educational and life outcomes of its students. His work has been recognised with many prestigious awards including Queenslander of the Year in 2004, and in 2011, he was Queensland’s nomination for Australian of the Year.

Dr. Sarra has a Master of Education and a PhD in Psychology from Murdoch University.  His thesis, Strong and Smart – Towards a Pedagogy for Emancipation Education for First Peoples, was published in a book in 2011 and his memoir, Good Morning Mr Sarra, was published in 2012.

Dr. Sarra is passionate about effecting sustainable change through positive leadership and mentoring with high expectations for a strong and smart Indigenous population.  He embraces a proud cultural identity and a holistic sense of what it means to be Aboriginal in contemporary Australian society. By sharing his own journey, Chris encourages other leaders to accept the Stronger Smarter challenge. 

Rosemary Campbell-Stephens (MBE) received her professional training in England, but her breadth of experience is international.  Having started as a teacher of English, she has since served as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education, University College London; OFSTED Inspector; a Local Authority Officer; Senior School Principal; Consultant Adviser to Her Majesty’s Government in the Department of Education (DFE); and, Lead Associate to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).  In 2015, Mrs. Campbell-Stephens was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), an honor bestowed by the Queen of England for outstanding service to education for over thirty-five years.

Mrs. Campbell-Stephens designed and led a groundbreaking leadership preparation program, Investing in Diversity, for the Institute of Education, University of London that subsequently extended across England and, in 2009, to the Institute of Education at the University of Toronto. The program moves beyond leadership theory and generic managerial competences to the deliberate exploration of creating differently enabled leadership spaces, within which those from under-represented backgrounds can practice leadership differently. As a leader of African Caribbean descent, she is particularly interested in educational leadership focused on enabling leaders from diverse backgrounds to find their authentic voice and change the spaces in which they lead.  As part of the Global Majority, particularly at this juncture in history when the axis of global power is shifting, she continues to encourage leaders to develop their own lens through which to create reimagined notions of service, provide humanizing experiences for educators and students, and to be unequivocal activists in pursuit of leadership for equity and social justice through education. More recently, as the Director Principal of the National College for Educational Leadership in Jamaica, she developed her thinking further about leadership in post-colonial spaces, especially through the concept of transformational leadership by disrupting deficit narratives.