Micela LeisSenior Research Scientist


    Micela has worked in the field of education for over a decade. She began her career by teaching English to students in grades 7 – 11 in Costa Rica, before moving to Nicaragua to help create a school for students with special needs. She then worked as an elementary school teacher in a public school in rural North Carolina with Teach for America, and in a private school in her hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. After a few years of teaching, Micela decided to pursue a doctoral degree in educational psychology. As an Institute of Education Science pre-doctoral fellow, Micela worked at the Social Development Lab at UVA, where she worked on a variety of research projects including a mixed methods evaluation of a program that sought to improve communication and collaboration between adults in schools and a partnership with rural districts in Virginia to use data-driven results to improve instructional rigor. Her dissertation work focused on how to build relational trust between principals and teachers.

    Micela has presented her work to both researchers and practitioners at a number of different conferences, including the American Evaluation Association Annual Conference, Alignment Nashville’s Social Emotional Learning Conference, the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, and the American Educational Research Association annual conference. Additionally, she has published quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods peer-reviewed journal articles. She is currently working on a book about student leadership development.

    Current Role

    Micela is an Evaluation Faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), focused on providing internal research and evaluation support. She is currently focusing on building CCL’s capacity to be a provider of evidence-based leadership solutions in the field of education. She is particularly interested in youth leadership development, using research and evaluation to help improve program implementation, and the role of trust as a critical ingredient for organizational change.

    Educational Background

    Ph.D. in Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science from the Curry School at the University of Virginia
    B.A. in Child Development from Tufts University in Massachusetts

    Professional Affiliations

    Micela is a member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

    Curriculum Vitae

    Select CCL Publications

    • DePass, M., Ehrlich, V., & Leis, M. (2019). Accelerating School Success: Transforming K-12 Schools by Investing in Leadership Development
    • Leis, M., Hamill, J., Leisman, T., Barefoot, M. J., Conner, C., Davis, K. M., Gatti, B., Hayes, K., & Johnson, T. (2018). Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program: Lessons of Experience from Rural Leaders in North Carolina. Whitepaper. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership

    Select External Publications

    • Leading Together: Strengthening Relational Trust in the Adult School Community
    • Principal actions related to increases in teacher-principal trust: Comparative case studies
    • Using the Partial Credit Model to evaluate the Student Engagement in Mathematics Scale
    • Innovating together to improve the adult community in schools: Results from a two-year study of the initial implementation of Leading Together

    Honors, Awards, Grants

    • Outstanding Doctoral Student Award, University of Virginia, 2016.
    • Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) Pre-doctoral Fellowship,
    • University of Virginia, 2012-2016.
    • Robert Lynn Canady Fellowship, 2015.
    • Alex Elias Memorial Prize Scholarship Award, Tufts University, 2008.
    • NESCAC Team Sportsmanship Award, Tufts University, 2008.
    Micela Leis

    Contact Information


    Areas of Expertise

    Evaluation, Early Leader Development, Research in Schools, Program Evaluation, Trust-building

    Jeff KosovichJean Leslie