College of Education and Human Development

Connect Magazine

Collaborating with the Department of Education

For the last two years, Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Assistant Commissioner Angela Mansfield has helped advise the LEAD conference content with CEHD. “It’s been a really nice partnership opportunity with the U of M,” she says. “We’re able to lend our perspective of what we are hearing in the field and what legislators are deeming as their priorities as well.”

Mansfield says what gives the LEAD Conference its value is its connection to what’s happening in the field and what leaders are grappling with. “We’re really listening to what the needs are and what the leaders at the district and school level want,” she says. “And giving them what they are asking for through support and through the best people in the field who are finding results.”

Mansfield at LEAD
Photo Credit: Marjan Samadi

Being state-centric is what gives LEAD its uniqueness and special power, Mansfield says. “When we are thinking about putting together the list of speakers and the breakout sessions, it is extremely relevant to the Minnesota context,” she says. “Whatever we’re grappling with across the state from the urban core to the northernmost or southernmost tip of greater Minnesota, whoever is coming through the door is going to find a connection.”

And the connection that develops between attendees is also valuable, Mansfield says. “It’s that opportunity to be around other educators who are coming for the same reason—a real intense willingness to learn and partner and network,” she says. “There are so many people in there at that conference wanting the same thing. So, there’s that energy and that motivation.”

The conference is becoming a heavy draw for educational leaders. “From the speakers who are going to be coming in to the local-level presenters, it’s just a high-quality event,” Mansfield says. “With the U of M comes with it that trust in the field that what is being offered is high-level and connected with what we need to know.”

Manfield calls particular attention to the expertise and dedication of Executive Director of Educational Leadership Katie Pekel and Dean Michael C. Rodriguez. “Katie Pekel is very well known in the leadership ranks at the Minnesota school level among principals and superintendents and there is a very positive attachment,” she says. “Michael Rodriguez—people highly respect his leadership and work as well. I think people see them and say, ‘We want to be where they are. We know there’s going to be good things coming from a conference attached to those two.'"

Mansfield counts herself among that group. “I love to see what’s working, getting to hear different examples from districts of things that are working for them,” she says. “I’m really curious and excited to see what people bring to the table around literacy, Indigenous education, how people are imagining their system, and imagining solutions in their system. I get extremely motivated. And I know it’s going to be the same this year.”