Meet the Boss

New York

For first time, new principal academy CEO was once a principal

Irma Zardoya, the new CEO of the city's Leadership Academy, said that she wants to focus on building new principals' support networks. The head of the city’s principal training academy has an unprecedented line on her resume: she has worked as a principal before. Irma Zardoya, who was principal of The Bilingual School in the Bronx for nine years in the 1980s and served as a district leader for many years after that, replaced Sandra Stein as CEO of the city’s Leadership Academy last month. Stein, who had led the academy since 2005, came to the position from Baruch College, where she wrote about principal training and created its Aspiring Leaders Program. Stein's predecessor, Robert Knowling, came from the corporate world. In an interview at the Leadership Academy's headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, Zardoya said that she doesn’t have immediate plans to change the content or aim of the academy. But she is zeroing in on one goal that might separate her from her predecessors. She wants to work on building new principals' relationships with other administrators in their districts. “Everyone needs to be responsible for a [new principal’s] success, so that when the person is placed they are not lonely, so that the superintendent is aware of who this person is,” she said. The Bloomberg administration created the New York City Leadership Academy and its Aspiring Principals Program in 2003 to train administrators for service under former Chancellor Joel Klein. The original idea of the academy, which had former General Electric C.E.O. Jack Welch on its original advisory board, was to apply leadership principles from the corporate world to education. The academy's most recent graduating class made up 23 percent of first-year principals this school year.