Cultivating Culture in Crisis: Developing State Education Agency Leaders at the New Mexico Public Education Department
Crespin Zidovsky, Danila
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CitationCrespin Zidovsky, Danila. 2021. Cultivating Culture in Crisis: Developing State Education Agency Leaders at the New Mexico Public Education Department. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
AbstractThe New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) administers state and federal education laws, allocates state and federal resources, and provides guidance to 877 schools in 89 districts. Historically, New Mexico has been negatively impacted by disproportionately high levels of poverty. In 2018, 75% of New Mexico’s students qualified for federally subsidized meals.
In 2019, the PED engaged in strategic planning and leadership development, both of which are the impetus for my strategic project. However, in early 2020, the PED was forced to focus most of its resources on issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the PED lacked the capacity, resources and funding to remain focused on initiatives related to leadership development and capacity building. My residency and strategic project focused on returning these issues to the forefront by facilitating the drafting of a leadership philosophy, designing pathways for implementation and creating professional development opportunities for PED management.
At the core of my Capstone is a central question: How can the PED create a system to train, develop and retain talent and build a supportive and values-based organizational culture to drive continuous improvement for the students and families of New Mexico? My efforts in the field apply research on organizational change, change management, and psychological safety and teaming. Through staff surveys, one-on-one meetings, and my facilitation of over 25 leadership meetings, my work and analysis revealed that, in times of crisis, building psychological safety is critical. This occurred at the PED through a conscious effort by management to invite participation, offer opportunities to discuss errors openly, and listen and respond productively. These efforts resulted in a structured leadership development program with resources, frameworks and a leadership philosophy to use in developing the agency’s leaders for years to come.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37370272