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7 Questions with Dr Concie Pedroza
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Dr Concie Pedroza
Name: Dr. Concie Pedroza
Current title: Associate Superintendent
Current organisation: Seattle Public Schools
Dr. Pedroza is proud to be the first person in her family to graduate from college and has since earned a Masters and Doctorate from the University of Washington. She started her teaching career in 1992 serving recently arrived immigrants in a newcomer EL program. Dr. Pedroza later was part of the first design team to bring dual language programming to Seattle Schools. She has served as principal in elementary, K-8 and going back to her roots transitioning the secondary newcomer program to Seattle World School (accredited high school). Dr. Pedroza served the district as a principal coach, Director for Racial Equity Advancement, Chief of Student Supports and currently serves as Associate Superintendent. Dr. Pedroza has also taught leadership courses at Seattle University and University of Washington-Bothell. She is supported by her husband of 29 years and her two children.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
One of the most challenging parts of the work, especially in the education field, is continually being able to assess the impact of decisions on the students and their families. Many of us in educational leadership positions started in education with the purpose of impacting students positively. When one leaves a school building, it takes a different level of collaboration, innovation and intentional strategy to really understand how decisions are positively supporting our students, it requires more than analyzing data. Including student and family experiences necessitates authentic engagement and active listening in a variety of ways - it also requires cultural competency and constantly checking for my own or institutional biases in order to truly assess impact - especially for our students and families who have been negatively impacted in the past.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have worked in Seattle mostly since 1992 and it has only been in the past three years I have had the opportunity to serve in senior leadership. I have been involved in deep racial equity work since 2005 and observing the system from the school level (as a teacher, principal and coach) - I knew I had unique personal and professional experiences that would be value added to the system. I decided to pursue my doctorate in Education Leadership & Policy Studies and decided the impact I wanted to have was on racial equity in schools which was focused more on the learning side but not on decision making. I applied for a small cabinet position in the district and am thankful for the opportunities.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I begin by scanning emails, meeting with my Executive Assistant to prioritize meetings, emails, projects and then move throughout my day attending to those things. I also have to attend evening meetings, so I will always make sure my family is aware of those days and find ways to connect with them. It is about prioritizing, with many departments to oversee, it requires balancing, checking in and oversight.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most recent leadership lesson is to go with your instincts on things that matter to you. Sometimes others influence a decision that may seem small to them, but have a bigger impact elsewhere. The times I didn't listen to my instincts, I needed to course correct anyway.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Bowman & Deal - Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice & Leadership continues to influence me. I read this book in my principal program. Later when I became a new principal I was navigating some political arenas. These books supported me through that time, but more importantly I had to reflect on my own strengths and challenges using the four frames. This was critical. I also used it to assess the institution under those four frames. I continually refer back to it when I am navigating new challenges or new dynamics.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
The error many institutions make is thinking that they can provide training or professional learning to ensure everyone is on the same page. Having led equity work, I can say this is not the case. Building leadership capacity requires professional learning, but that is just the first step of awareness work around a topic. The follow up has to continue with coaching, skill building, deeper content learning and finally there has to be accountability in the system for the action or change needed in the organization. Once capacity has been successfully built, the system needs to put a plan in place where these leaders are leading others (new staff, etc.) to continue the culture building of the organization.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
During the pandemic and remote learning - we learned that our bilingual families were really struggling with access to information. One of our departments who supported our families decided to do bilingual, community engagement to really hear from our families. When the pandemic first hit, the meetings were challenging in many ways, technically and it was hard to hear some of the hardships. The department decided to take a stance of learning to support and improve the system. The department met with our bilingual families 18-20 times throughout this year (all translated meetings) and by the end of the year, we had built trust and most of all, we had made significant changes to how we supported our families throughout the year. It was the most challenging and rewarding work.