Meet AACTE Cohort Coaches 

Level Up Your Skills with Trusted Education Leaders 

AACTE understands the multifaceted demands facing deans, department chairs, and senior leaders today and is committed to providing tailored coaching solutions that empower you to lead successfully.

You are invited to embark on a journey of transformative leadership with AACTE Coaching. Partner with a coach and a cohort of your peers to strengthen skills, navigate challenges, learn new tools, and realize your full potential as you shape the future of excellence in teacher education. 

Meet the Coaches 

Leslie T. Fenwick, Ph.D.

Leslie T. Fenwick, Ph.D., Deans of Color Cohort 

Fenwick, currently AACTE’s dean in residence, is dean emerita of the School of Education and a professor of education policy at Howard University. She has served in every sector of American education (as a university administrator and faculty member, foundation program officer, state legislative aid for education policy, and K-12 public and private school administrator and teacher). In 2020, she was one of two fully vetted finalists for the U.S. Secretary of Education post. Since 2017, Fenwick has been engaged at the United States Military Academy as a McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character (MCLC) Senior Fellow where she also delivered the 2019 Corbin Distinguished Lecture and the 2017 Black History Month Distinguished Lecture. She has delivered hundreds of national and international invited and distinguished lectures on equity, leadership, and ethics to convenings for college/university leaders, elected officials and government agencies, and corporate CEOs and senior executives. Fenwick is also the author of the best-selling book, Jim Crow’s Pink Slip (Harvard Education Press, 2022), which presents a history of the quest for racial equality and educational equity in the United States. 

Kandi Hill-Clarke, Ed.D.

Kandi Hill-Clarke, Ed.D., New Deans Cohort 

Kandi Hill-Clarke is former dean of the College of Education at the University of Memphis and currently serves as Provost Fellow for Faculty Affairs and Leadership Development. Under Hill-Clarke’s leadership, the College of Education experienced enrollment growth, as well as significant increases in donor engagement and philanthropic support, faculty research and grant productivity, including increases in state and national rankings, and developed new academic programs and certificates with a focus on student success. Additionally, under Hill-Clarke’s leadership, the College of Education consistently met or exceeded expectations on the Tennessee Educator Preparation Report Card, successfully achieved national accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and was named as a Grow Your Own Center for Teacher Apprenticeships by the Tennessee Department of Education.  

Debbie Mercer, Ph.D

Debbie Mercer, Ph.D., Effective Communication & Navigating Difficult Faculty 

Mercer is former dean of the School of Education at Kansas State University, where she is currently serving as interim provost. Mercer’s accomplishments include creating technologically advanced learning environments at the university — including securing iPads for all preservice teachers and instructional faculty — and her efforts supporting the Go Teacher program, which brought Ecuadorian teachers to the university and other institutions to enhance their English proficiency, serving more than 3,000 students. 

Mercer’s leadership and guidance have had a statewide impact on teacher preparation. Her work led to the development and implementation of assessment systems to document effective candidate preparation for teachers and school personnel. She has also provided extensive service to the Kansas State Department of Education, including chair of the Professional Standards Board and many accreditation-related activities. Mercer has published an edited book and numerous articles related to children’s literature and served as co-editor of the Kansas Journal of Reading.

For more information and to apply, visit the AACTE Coaching webpage or contact me at 

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