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In December 2014, moments before she received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Doris Crawford addressed her fellow Eastern Kentucky University graduates as student commencement speaker.

A first-generation college student, like so many of her classmates, Crawford shared how she grew up in extreme poverty in the rural south, envisioning a better life, one in which she would help others see the value of education and overcome obstacles to succeed.

Today, Crawford is doing just that, as an assistant professor in EKU’s College of Education and the response-to-intervention administrator for PK-12 at Model Laboratory School on the Eastern campus. And she was recently accepted from a national pool of educators to participate in the Women in Education Leadership Institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education March 3-5.

The Institute convenes senior leaders interested in strengthening and leveraging their leadership skills to advance education initiatives and provides a unique opportunity for personal growth and renewal with like-minded women. It focuses on how senior leaders must navigate the multiple responsibilities and constituencies of their roles. Through workshops, lectures and case discussions, participants analyze and practice advanced leadership techniques, exploring topics such as negotiation and communication.

The overall objectives of the Institute are to:

* identify the unique leadership challenges and opportunities facing women in education today.

* help participants understand when and how gender plays a role in both organizational and personal advancement.

* help participants learn how successful women negotiate for what they need to be effective leaders.

* help participants gain new strategies for building and leading senior-leadership teams.

* raise the visibility of women as senior leaders in education.

* create a lasting network of women leaders across the sector who are effecting change in education.

It’s not Crawford’s first experience with Harvard. Also in 2014, she was one of only six graduate students in educational administration nationally awarded an American Association of School Administrators Leadership Scholarship to attend a similar institute at the Ivy League school. Crawford had served earlier as director of secondary schools with the Shelby County (Ky.) Public Schools.