Leadership Academy Plus includes the Leadership Academy Institute that consists of 6 days of sessions. Forums take place monthly (1 day/month).

PLEASE NOTE: Registration for the 2022-23 cohort is now closed. Check back later for information on next year’s cohort.


Interested Assistant Principal and Principal pairs should apply via the CPS Common App; if selected, there is no cost to participate.


Leadership Academy Bridge is a unique partnership with Chicago Public Schools and The Chicago Public Education Fund that works to support strong succession plans for Chicago Public Schools (district and charter) by preparing current assistant principals to move into principal positions in Chicago.

  • 6-Day Leadership Academy Institute, a mix of live virtual classes with the cohort, pre-recorded lessons, case studies, and independent exercise. Sessions are focused on change management/strategic planning, leading effective adult teams, managing a data-driven culture, and strengthening school culture.
  • Forums: Ongoing professional learning, cohort problem solving, and continued progress monitoring and course correction of the participant’s Strategic Plan (6 per school year). Forums will take place monthly from November – April (exact dates TBD). Forums will include 3.5 hours of content followed by 3 hours of group office hours or individual 1:1 problem solving with an advisor.
  • One-to-One Advisory: Individualized Advisory to support the participant’s work on their Leadership Development Plan and Strategic Plan throughout the year (3 per school year)
  • Triad Advisory: Succession planning support with the assistant principal, their principal, and an Accelerate Institute Advisor
  • Microlearnings: Access to weekly 5-min PD videos
  • Supports to ensure APs have met principal eligibility requirements for Chicago Public Schools
  • Supports to find and transition into a school principal position within Chicago Public Schools (traditional district or charter)


Current Chicago Assistant Principal and Principal pairs (traditional district or charter).

This program is designed for current assistant principals who are interested in becoming principals; priority is given to APs considered to be internal successors in their buildings. Traditional district APs should have earned CPS principal eligibility or plan to go through the process in 2022-23.


Dr. Catherine Burns, President and Chief Academic Officer

A Midwesterner at heart, Catherine grew up in Chicago’s south suburbs and stayed in the region to earn her undergrad and graduate degrees. She started her 20-year career as a high school history teacher and coach, but over the years grew to know and love the middle school and elementary school teachers and students, even her kindergarteners’ milk mustaches at breakfast. Catherine founded a successful charter school in Pilsen, a near southside neighborhood, forging its foundation in the culture of the community where she fostered a school climate where students and teachers loved to be and could learn and grow. Under her leadership, she accelerated student achievement +43% in 4 years in reading and math as measured by NWEA. In the 4th year of operation, the 4th and 5th grade students were 90/90/90 classrooms, demonstrating that after 3 years of instruction at BDLC the achievement gap would be closed.
Catherine leads our Curriculum and Assessment Team and helps set the vision for our organization as CAO. Catherine is a thought leader on leadership development, executive coaching, and team management. In addition to her tireless work on behalf of students, Catherine is dedicated to her family and friends. Catherine, her husband, Ken, and son Logan love travel, baseball, superheroes and if you have questions about dinosaurs or sinkholes, she might have the answer.

Jillian Carew, Managing Director of Programs

Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Jillian is committed to ensuring that all young people have access to a quality education. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she developed a passion for working with youth. After graduating, she joined Teach for America as a corps member where she taught 3rd grade and earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from UNLV. She then returned to Chicago and helped open what became the #1 non-selective enrollment high school in the city, a Noble School. While at Noble, she became an award-winning teacher; spent five years across two campuses teaching 9th and 11th grade math; and served as a dean. She later went on to serve as an Assistant Principal and Principal across the pre-K to 12 spectrums at University of Chicago-Donoghue, CICS Wrightwood, and Foundations College Prep.

During her tenure as a school leader, she secured more than a half million dollars in grant money on her quest to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. While leading her team at Wrightwood as a Growth Accelerator participant, she exceeded expectations to increase the school’s overall School Quality Rating Program score from a 2.2 to a 3.5. Since then, she’s become an educational consultant and most recently led instructional improvement work around turning research into anti-racist practice for the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success.

Jillian is primarily responsible for overseeing and improving outcomes for Accelerate’s core programs: The Chicago Growth Accelerator and Leadership Academy. When she’s not working to create a pathway to college for youth, she enjoys being near water, completing puzzles, collecting sneakers, and traveling! She also builds and donates beds for kids in need as the Chapter President of Sleep in Heavenly Peace – Chicago South. She is a thought leader on organizational health with a focus on equitable practices and high functioning teams.

Keelin Philippe, Senior Director of Professional Learning

After graduating from Villanova University, Keelin joined Inner-City Teaching Corps in Chicago, spending the next two years as a volunteer teacher on Chicago’s south side. Keelin remained in the classroom for seven years, working at Catholic schools and Chicago Public Schools. And in 2006, she won the Presidential Award for Math and Science for the state of Illinois, where she was invited to meet with the President of the United States. Although her passion was teaching early elementary students, she spent time working with middle school writers. It was her love of reading and teaching young readers that led her to pursue a second Master’s degree in Literacy, Language and Culture with a Reading Specialist certification from the University of Illinois at Chicago (she also holds a Master’s degree in Education from Northwestern University). Keelin has been with Accelerate Institute since 2007, starting as the Director of Teacher Coaching.

In her role as Senior Director of Professional Development, Keelin develops and facilitates the Accelerate Institute Curriculum for all programs: School Accelerator, Principal Fellowship, Leadership Academy, and Accelerate Online. During her tenure at Accelerate Institute, Keelin has played a key role in program innovation by leading the creation of the Leadership Academy, a program for school leaders at all levels, as well as creating and leading the beta testing for Accelerate Online, a fully asynchronous online learning platform for current and aspiring school leaders. Prior to taking on her current role, Keelin was a Director of Curriculum and Assessment, where she was responsible for the planning and execution of the one-year Field Study experience for participants in the Principal Fellowship program and was an Advisor to Principal Fellows, supporting them through their Field Study and their first two years of principalship.

Keelin has been trained in multiple coaching models including New Teacher Center’s Teacher Induction and CT3’s Real-Time Teacher Coaching. A life-long learner herself, Keelin holds a Master of Science in Education from Northwestern University, a Master of Education in Literacy, Language and Culture from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Certificate in E-Learning and Instructional Design from the University of Washington. Keelin loves thinking and learning about how adults and kids learn. Before joining Accelerate Institute in 2007, Keelin got her start teaching through Accelerate Institute’s founding program, ICTC, and during that time worked in both the Chicago Public Schools and the Archdiocese of Chicago schools. In 2006, she was honored with the Presidential Award for Math and Science Teaching for the state of Illinois. Keelin currently resides in Bristol, Rhode Island with her husband and two children. They love being out in nature whenever they can.

Erica Eichleay, Director of Curriculum and Assessment

A fourth-generation educator and native Detroiter, Erica began her teaching career in 1995 at the Frances Xavier Warde School (FXW) in Chicago, teaching grades four through eight. During that time, Erica conducted various action-research projects around student self-assessment and collaborative conferences which she presented for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Beginning in 2006, she worked as an Instructional Coach with the Inner-City Teaching Corps—Accelerate Institute’s teacher training program—before she made the transition to The Principal Fellowship team in 2013. During her nearly 15 years with Accelerate Institute, Erica has trained and mentored more than 60 rising educational leaders across public, charter, and Catholic schools. She has extensive training and expertise with various coaching models including New Teacher Center’s Teacher Induction and CT3’s Real-Time Teacher Coaching. Erica also leverages her experience implementing a range of instructional practices including Responsive Classroom, Project-Based Learning, Kagan Structures, and Multi-Sensory Learning to support leaders in developing their instructional vision. Erica earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Oakland University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Loyola University.


Leadership Academy Bridge

(per person)