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Laura McGowan-Robinson
Laura McGowan-Robinson

Laura McGowan-Robinson

Diversity in Leadership Institute

Los Angeles, CA USA

"There are multiple ways that people bring their gifts and talents to the space, and we just have to be open enough and inclusive enough to embrace those differences."

Career Roadmap

Laura's work combines: Education, Politics, and Helping People

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Day In The Life


I work to increase the pipeline for more diversity in K-12 education leadership spaces.

Skills & Education

Here's the path I took:

  • High School

  • Bachelor's Degree

    English, Rhetoric

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • Graduate Degree

    Secondary Education

    University of Illinois Chicago

  • Doctorate

    Educational Leadership for Social Justice

    Loyola Marymount University

  • Certification

    Diversity and Inclusion

    Cornell University

Life & Career Milestones

My path in life has been direct

  • 1.

    My love for education stems from my admiration for my grandmother, whose biggest dream was for her descendants to at least finish high school—something she wasn’t able to do as a sharecropper.

  • 2.

    I earned my undergraduate degree in English rhetoric and then went on to earn a Master of Education in secondary education.

  • 3.

    After graduating with my master’s degree, I became a teacher for Chicago Public Schools.

  • 4.

    I taught in Chicago for a few years and then moved to Los Angeles, California, where I spent a few more years teaching before becoming an administrator.

  • 5.

    Surprised by the lack of diversity in education—even in what’s considered to be a diverse state—I became eager to explore how I could help diversify and increase cultural competence in education.

  • 6.

    I founded Crown Preparatory Academy, a public charter middle school in South Los Angeles, and spent over six years as executive director.

  • 7.

    I became more involved with policy and advocacy while working for the California Charter Schools Association—during this time, I also earned my doctorate in educational leadership for social justice.

  • 8.

    I’m now the CEO of the Diversity in Leadership Institute, where I work to increase the pipeline for diversity in school leadership.

Defining Moments

How I responded to discouragement


    Messages from Society in general:

    You don't deserve to be in this space.

  • How I responded:

    I've had moments of doubt where I've questioned if I deserve to be in a space. This imposter syndrome stems from the views of society in general. It's easy to doubt yourself and listen to the naysayers when you're underrepresented. I remind myself that I have the experience and credentials to be here and I also stand on the shoulders of others who have made sacrifices for me to be here. I encourage anyone experiencing something similar to find a support system. Those are the voices that matter.

Experiences and challenges that shaped me

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  • As a Black woman, there are times that I've been passed over or not accepted in the same way as others. I strive to be myself and keep putting myself out there. Your story and voice are valuable. I also lean on my support system during these times.

  • I didn't have good boundaries when I was a young professional. I ended up burning out. I've since set boundaries for a healthy work-life balance. It's important to take a step back, set boundaries, and allow yourself space to take care of yourself.