Leading for Justice

The UCLA Principal Leadership Institute (PLI) trains and supports a diverse group of individuals committed to the principles of academic excellence, equity, and integrity as a way to maximize achievement and opportunity for students in urban schools. The Principal Leadership Institute at UCLA has designed a rigorous 14-month program aligned with the California Administrative Professional Expectations (CAPEs) that will prepare the next generation of urban school leaders. The program grants a Master’s degree and completion of the courses required for the California Tier 1 Administrative Credential. The program is designed to attract outstanding educators who have administrative interests and recognized potential. The Principal Leadership Institute utilizes the Reciprocal Learning Partnership Equity Framework.  


We are cohort 23.
We are courageous, strong, wise, and kind.

We believe that all students should have equal access to the best of all possible learning
We believe power is meant to be shared.
We believe that families need to be integral to the decision making process of their
children’s educational trajectory.
We believe in empowering students by teaching them to see the margin as a site of resistance
where change can be enacted through radical healing.
We believe high expectations, self reflection, and maintaining radical hope can lead to breaking
barriers of marginalization.
We believe that when African American students are at the center of our pedagogical approach,
then all students will experience powerful learning premised in equity.

We are cohort 23.
We are courageous, strong, wise, and kind.

We plan to build collective democratic capacity.
We plan to listen more than we talk and revoice what we hear for clarification.
We plan to surround ourselves with individuals who will support us in seeing what we
cannot see.
We plan to create, and then work through, cognitive dissonance.
We plan to acknowledge historical hoarding and the unequal distribution of power.
We plan to become resilient and stay the fight, making new paths when roadblocks are placed in
front of us.
We plan to use the trust we have established as a foundation for healing and restoring.
We plan to use our political race as a powerful vehicle to enact change.
We plan to shake the system to its foundation.

We are cohort 23.
We are courageous, strong, wise, and kind.

We need leaders, policy makers, and stakeholders to “Remain Awake Through a Great
We need more control over every decision that affects our campuses, including every dollar
needed to be spent building equitable systems.
We need your help to alleviate barriers that prevent students from flourishing mentally,
academically, and physically.
We need your help for schools to become hubs of resources that will eliminate stress from
We need your help and your trust to do it all, because this can be difficult and isolating work.
We need you to join us in our community with your whole selves, including all of your ideas and
positionalities and concerns.
We need you to be as vulnerable as you are willing and able to be, so that we can co-create a
community that includes you, because it is through learning about one another that we become
We need you to take the time to dialogue and share and listen to our identities and
We need you to join us in creating, sharing, and trying out ideas that are outside of the box.
We need you to understand that sometimes this will involve conflict, sometimes collaboration,
sometimes celebration, and sometimes this will involve taking a break and coming back to the
But, we need you to know that it will always involve staying in (or returning to) community.

We are cohort 23.
We are courageous, strong, wise, and kind.
This is how we roll.

The PLI Experience

These blog posts were written by PLI Cohort 23 students Martha Galvez and Kimberly Valencia.

UCLA PLI 20th Anniversary Brochure

20th Anniversary Brochure
featuring PLI alumni

In 2019 the UCLA Principal Leadership Institute celebrated its 20th Anniversary, along with the Principal Leadership Institute at UC Berkeley.

UCLA Principal Leadership Institute (PLI) in the News

New Grant to Build Pipeline of Middle School Teachers and Leaders

We’ve been awarded a five-year grant to build a pipeline of well-prepared middle school teachers and leaders with the knowledge and skills to serve in high-need schools and further positive outcomes for middle school students. This collaborative partnership project is intentionally interdisciplinary, with a focus on racial and cultural literacy and adolescent literacy.  

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Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez High School: A Community School That Honors Its Neighborhood’s Legacy of Educational Justice

This Learning Policy Institute Brief focuses on a high-performing community school in East Los Angeles led by PLI faculty & graduate Mauro Bautista. The brief details the structures and practices that create the conditions for deep engagement, shared leadership, and a school culture that combines rigorous and engaging academics in a nurturing and inclusive environment.

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My experience as a member of PLI Cohort 20 was an unprecedented year of firsts. Personally, it was the first time I felt comfortable showing up as my full, authentic and intersectional identity. PLI was refreshing in that I was fortunate enough to experience a journey alongside a community of social justice leaders and educators committed to self improvement and discovery. Dr. Bettina Love’s quote “Education cannot save us. We have to save education,” continues to motivate me in personal path in disrupting and eradicating educational inequality for students of color. Ultimately, my multifaceted PLI experience added more fuel to the inner flame that emboldens me to share my story and use my voice for this immensely difficult and important work toward social justice.

Brianna Richards
Brianna Richards