Program Experience

Our EdD program brings together experienced professionals from across sectors to find creative solutions to pressing challenges. In our cohort-based approach, students examine real-world practice through a scholarly lens, leverage their leadership and professional experience, and prepare to lead meaningful change in their organizations and beyond.

We want to support leaders who see themselves reflected in a degree program, and who can talk across a variety of disciplines and sectors. We also want a group of leaders who can problem-solve, using a variety of different lenses and knowledge bases.
Dr. Noel S. Anderson, Founding Faculty
Persistent challenges require us to look beyond our silo for solutions. When we do so, we activate new networks of leaders eager and prepared to create innovative, cross-sector solutions to our most pressing issues.
Dr. Lisette Nieves, Founding Faculty
Dr. Felipe Henao
(EdD ’21)
Dean of Students, New York Institute of Technology, New York, NY
The content of the EdD program is important—the theory, the research, and the path to becoming a scholar practitioner. But underlying all of that was the support and the community that the faculty built with our cohort.

What impact has the EdD program had on you?

I’ve been promoted twice since starting this program—not only because of the credential but also because of my ability to connect everything I’ve learned in the past two years and translate that into the work. It’s also been a life-changing experience personally. Since day one, the faculty have been very intentional about believing in all of us and creating a cross-sectional community of people who want to do good, so I’ve had a community of people cheering me on and supporting me at every step of the way.

What was the focus of your Problem of Practice (POP)?

Food insecurity has become a global systemic issue, especially during the pandemic, so I focused on documenting students’ lived experiences with food insecurity at a Hispanic-serving institution. I interviewed 20 brave students who shared powerful stories about how they've lived with food insecurity, and I hope that their voices will pave the way to equitable and systemic change in our education system. There’s still a lot of stigma about admitting that you’re hungry, and my work addresses that and proposes ways that support services—food pantries, counseling, health services—could create an ecosystem to support student success.

Dr. Jesse Jackson
(EdD ’21)
Chief Learning Officer, JPMorgan Chase, New York, NY
Like many young adults, I entered the world of finance to do finance. I had both a baccalaureate and a master's degree in economics. But as I became more acquainted with the type of work that we do, I began to understand that it's not finance or dollars that drive economic growth, it's human capital. Unlocking the potential of human capital drives innovation—and my work as a chief learning officer allows me to do that at scale. It’s work that is truly exciting.

What role do learning executives play in the corporate sector?

We are all fortunate to live in this age of acceleration where the velocity of change continues to propel society. Our role as educators or learning executives is to ensure that we are positioning our workforce in such a way that we can truly optimize innovations in a way that drives value. By calibrating lifelong learning, we can increase organizational output and help employees maximize their career trajectories as professionals. And as we know, learning is portable. So to the extent that we are successful, the work we do here is also a greater good to society in general.

What was the focus of your Problem of Practice (POP)?

My POP focused not on theoretical or scholastic contributions but on operationalizing and understanding best practices. We have the privilege here at JPMorgan Chase to onboard more than 20,000 new hires on an annual basis. I wanted to explore ways of doing that work more effectively. How can we leverage that work to further diversify and provide greater opportunities and connectivities to new markets? I had defined my POP pre-COVID-19, but the pandemic made me dig deeper. How do we build more bridges to ensure that the great work that many of us are doing in diversity, inclusion, and equity doesn't come to a stop as a result of a global pandemic?

What attracted you to this program?

NYU Steinhardt’s EdD program is an excellent platform for the cross-sector engagement that is so critical to solving the big problems facing us as executives today. More tactically, the program provides the opportunity to work with public-sector, not-for-profit, and commercial executives to get a much more in-depth understanding of what these executives are facing. Equally important, a number of thought leaders were brought in to help us think about how to leverage ideas across sectors. We have an obligation as global citizens to ensure that we're not leaving individuals behind at a time where change is truly increasing in velocity.

Audrey Kajumbula
(EdD ’22)
Director of Visiting Student Programs, NYU Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Right away, I felt a connection with my classmates and the faculty. We all had such unique experiences—whether we worked in higher education or in other fields, we had ways to connect and engage. We become better at what we do by hearing about the challenges in another industry; by learning about best practices and frameworks, and by rethinking theories and how they connect. That's something I've found valuable about the cross-sector experience and the different areas that we navigate as a collective.

What are the benefits of the cohort approach?

When we connect, we're not just connecting about course work, we're connecting about personal things in life—we're asking advice, we’re asking for suggestions for trips, we're asking how to navigate something. That's taught me a lot about myself and about learning to rely on other people and opening up and being authentic. This translates professionally because it has raised my awareness of the people I work with and ways that I can support them—even just by sending a text saying, I’m thinking of you.

What is the focus of your Problem of Practice (POP)?

My problem of practice examines how to enhance support services for international students and create a greater sense of belonging. At NYU Abu Dhabi, we have 120-plus nationalities. Through conversations, I’m learning from the students about what's important to them. I’m hoping this work will influence how we train our staff, how we invite more students into the conversation, and how we create that space for students on our campus. And I'm certain the themes will relate to other areas, given the value of a sense of belonging within higher education or any other community.

Neil Persaud
(EdD ’22)
Cofounder, LiveMore, Singapore
I am an entrepreneur and the cofounder of a platform that provides access to well-being content and experts for people around the world. The EdD has given me academic depth within leadership and innovation, and that has been really helpful for everything I'm doing professionally.

What attracted you to this program?

For me it was the combination of academic depth and the experience of the faculty practitioners. In addition, the opportunity to take existing research and apply it to a current situation in our workspace is really helpful for me as a co-founder of a young company. The beauty of this EdD degree at NYU Steinhardt is I'm doing that research with really talented and brilliant minds and applying it to my work. The return is measurable.

What is the focus of your problem of practice (POP)?

My POP is designed to allow my organization to collaborate better with other organizations as we look to address a big problem facing many organizations today: How do you enable your workforce to thrive from a well-being standpoint? And what tools do you give them to support them in this space? I anticipate that I’ll walk away from my POP with a toolkit to help other organizations enable their workforce to thrive.

Dr. John Roth
(EdD ’21)
Shareholder, Maynard Cooper & Gale, Birmingham, AL
The doctoral program marries academic rigor with real-world problems. We’re looking through an academic lens to make sense of the world, but at the same time, we’re bringing problems from our own fields of practice and coming up with solutions that matter.

What was most impactful about the EdD program?

For me, the essence of the program is the combination of tried and true research with actual practice. The most interesting theories in the world happen when you cross disciplines, and that’s also true when practice meets academia. The students are all in practice in our own fields, so we’re able to bring real-world problems and industry data together with academics to create change. I also appreciated having the latitude and the space to take a slightly different path with my POP [Problem of Practice] than the rest of my cohort. I was able to pursue the particular subject that interested me instead of having to conform to a predetermined idea of what a POP should be.

What was the focus of your Problem of Practice (POP)?

My POP addressed a problem that I have been thinking about for at least 10 years. In the investment management industry, the “culture of compliance” concept has become ubiquitous—yet no one seems to know what that truly means, much less how to create it. I wanted to define the concept and find a way to measure it to give compliance officers a framework. The more I dug into this issue, the more it became apparent that people have been approaching it in ways that are not grounded in research on human behavior when it comes to culture and ethics. By bringing together theory and practice, the work I did has implications beyond just one organization. The framework and the ideas could be applied to any number of institutions.

Dr. Elisa A. Valls
(EdD ’21)
Director of Communications, Grades K-8 School, Miami, FL
Our cohort is a very diverse group, personally and professionally and the faculty took the time to meet each of us where we were and helped us identify and understand the power of our strengths. My background was in liberal arts and business before I transitioned to education, and it was a transformational experience to realize how I could leverage those experiences to expand my understanding of the possibilities within the field.

What are the benefits of the cohort approach?

I didn’t realize the immense value of the cohort model until I joined this program. Doctoral programs can feel isolating by nature, but the cohort was the backbone of the program. Having a group of people who were working together to achieve a similar goal, who took on various roles and became friends and supporters replaced those feelings of isolation with a community of support. We continually learned from each other - the exchange of ideas became one of the most enriching aspects of the experience.

What was the focus of your Problem of Practice (POP)?

The school where I work takes a unique approach to education, focusing on developing each child as a whole person within a sophisticated academic and artistic environment. I was interested in codifying the school’s methodology and exploring its impact on the child. Why is respecting the child as an individual important? Why is arts education important? Digging deeply into these concepts has been a powerful experience and further contextualized my work. Now I’m bringing these findings back to my organization and looking at how we can apply what we’ve learned to different demographics and to continue to grow and improve.

Nadir Zafar
(EdD ’22)
Founder, Real School, Singapore
The EdD program is not just for those in the education sector. My cohort has people from technology companies, social organizations, and the manufacturing industry. It's a very diverse group of people, and I enjoy learning from them. These are people who possess great qualifications, including MBAs from top universities. They have rich experience in the business world and the education world and it’s been very helpful to get perspectives from both sides.

What attracted you to this program?

I'm not an educator; I am a businessperson who aspires to really understand the education market. What made this particular doctorate different was its focus on leadership and innovation, because, in my opinion, these are the two most sought-after skills in the business world. Also, the program opens me up to a network from the US, as my class comprises many top professionals from there. It gives me a network into an area that I previously did not have, and it’s fascinating to hear different perspectives.

What is the focus of your problem of practice (POP)?

I'm passionate about education. As a leader in the education technology sector, agile thinking and innovation is part of what we do every single day. My problem of practice centers on creating new, more accessible pathways for business education and credentialing at scale with the capacity to deepen those learning experiences and improve outcomes. There are many different directions that my research has taken me. The program’s application of an academic lens coupled with rigorous self-reflection inspired me to think differently about my future trajectory.

Diane Geng
Dr. Diane Geng
(EdD ’21)
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, NYU Shanghai, Shanghai, China
I appreciated the chance to hear so many real-world examples and dilemmas from my cohort members as we discussed what we were learning and reading. I found the cross-country and cross-cultural exchange of professional experiences and contexts to be very inspiring.

What attracted you to this program?

The integration of academic theory with practice was very appealing and I was also attracted by the background of the program founders. They have worked outside of academia but have also done a lot of scholarship and teaching in universities, so I felt confident that they had designed a program that would meld professional practice and theory in a way that would be grounded in professional experiences and leadership. The Problem of Practice was also very interesting because it would allow us to closely integrate our learning with the challenges that we would be grappling with on a day-to-day basis throughout the whole course of the program.

What was the focus of your Problem of Practice (POP)?

Broadly, my topic was the practice of philanthropic grantmaking in China, which is a relatively recent development. I focused on the role of staff in foundations and how their experiences reveal some of the contemporary challenges and realities of implementing philanthropic grantmaking in China. The program provided some interesting lenses to help propel me toward thinking about the role of specific players and people within the ecosystem of grantmaking implementation in China. I hope one of the applications of my POP will be to focus attention on the cultivation of human talent in nonprofit organizations so that nonprofit leaders can think ahead and more thoughtfully about how to motivate and retain and support the growth of people who are integral to carrying out their missions.