Superintendents' Executive Leadership Forum (SELF)

Superintendent Executive Leadership Forum

A program of the Center for Applied Policy (CAP-Ed) at UC Davis


Portrait of Davis Campbell (left), Dean Lauren Lindstrom (middle) and Dr. Michael Fullan (right)The SELF program at UC Davis’ Center for Applied Policy in Education (CAP-Ed) was conceived and created to support superintendents in their efforts to transform the central office to one whose primary focus is improvement of teaching and learning to eliminate inequities in schooling. SELF represents a significant shift away from “management”—a preoccupation with organizational issues—to instructional leadership throughout school districts as complex systems. To accomplish this fundamental shift of focus, superintendents must provide the framework to build a common set of values and beliefs, while supporting school principals in effectively leading teacher teams, and a professional ethic of teaching that are at the core of all schools in order to provide learning opportunities for diverse students. It is also the recognition that schools, as organizations are central to continuous improvement efforts. Schools are not just collections of individuals operating according to a loosely connected and rather fragile set of assumptions about education. They are communities whose success depends on agreed upon norms, practices and shared values. The philosophy driving SELF, that schools are communities requiring a common set of values and beliefs underlying a professional ethic of instructional leadership, infuses the SELF program’s curriculum and structure. 230 School District superintendents have participated in SELF since 2008, representing approximately 20% of California school districts.

“The communication with other superintendents and presenters was highly impactful for me.” — SELF Participant

“Great connections made & discussions about extremely important/relevant topics.” — SELF Participant

SELF brings K-12 superintendents together in a small group, collaborative-networking forum providing the opportunity to engage with preeminent thinkers in discussions about critical issues of education, to reflect on the ideas presented by various scholars, to share their own experiences, and to apply what they have learned to the improvement of teaching and learning in their own districts. Each year, with continued grant support from the Stuart Foundation, SELF enrolls a new cohort and launches a series of sessions.

Program Structure and Details

Each year a cohort comprising approximately 15-20 superintendents is recruited. Selection criteria promotes the inclusion of superintendents from small and large; urban, suburban, and rural; and demographically representative districts.

Over six or seven months superintendents attend six, day-long sessions.

Guest Faculty:

  • Dr. Steven Ladd; Effective Systems Leadership
  • Dr. Michael Fullan; Systems Transformation
  • Dr. Charles Payne; Equity and Dignity-based Education
  • Dr. Meredith Honig; Central Office Transformation & Principal Leadership
  • Dr. Megan Welsh; Equitable Grading
  • Davis Campbell; School Board and the Governance Core


Dr. Steven Ladd, CAP-ED Policy Fellow

Participating Districts 2022-2023

Black Oak Mine USD

Calistoga JUSD

Colusa USD

Esparto USD

Guadalupe Union ESD

Huntington Beach City SD

Jefferson ESD

Jefferson Union HSD

Kentfield ESD

Larkspur-Corte Madera SD

Mark West Union SD

Mountain View SD

Petaluma City Schools

Red Bluff JUHSD

Red Bluff UESD

River Delta USD

St. Helena USD


To learn more about the Superintendents’ Executive Leadership Forum (SELF) at UC Davis please contact CAP-Ed Executive Director, Dr. Christina E. Murdoch at


SELF Districts

Acalanes Union High School District

Alameda County Office of Education

Alameda Unified School District

Albany City Unified

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