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Executive Leadership Credential

Executive Leadership Credential

Join us for a year-long journey to develop executive-level leadership skills, collaborate to solve current challenges, and identify innovative approaches to leading Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Live • Online • 40 PD Hours


Looking for ways to take your leadership to the next level? Want to become a disruptive innovator? The Academy at NHSA presents the Executive Leadership Credential! Designed for directors with more than seven years experience (or those who have completed the Director Credential), this experience will approach leadership from an executive perspective. Nationally recognized experts from Harvard University and training will hone high-level leadership skills needed to develop solutions to current challenges and identify innovative approaches to leading Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Participants will attend NHSA’s Winter Leadership Institute in January (cost of registration is included) and an exclusive Summer Executive Leadership Council Summit in June (cost of registration, lodging, and food are included) to fulfill all requirements of the Executive Leadership Credential.

After successfully completing the year-long program, you will have the opportunity to become a member of NHSA’s Executive Leadership Council and have priority access to Executive Leadership Council events, including a special pre-conference event at NHSA’s Winter Leadership Institute. NHSA will look to the Executive Leadership Council to provide ongoing guidance on pressing Head Start issues as they arise. The Executive Leadership Council will be the example of leadership throughout Head Start communities nationwide.

Start Date: Annually in January

Course Level: Advanced

Requirements/Prerequisites: Directors with over 7 years experience in leadership and/or completion of The Academy’s Director Credential

Target Audience: Leadership and Management

Course Meeting Times:

  • Kickoff at Winter Leadership Institute in January
  • Summer Executive Leadership Credential Summit in June
  • Monthly Meetings: Dates and Times TBA

Completion Timeline/Duration: 12 months

Head Start Alignment:

This course supports programs in meeting Part 1302: Program Operations, Subpart I-Human Resources & J-Program Management and Quality Improvement requirements of the Head Start Program Performance Standards to ensure staff are qualified and supported to effectively provide services.

Course Outline


  • Online, Self-paced Content
  • Monthly Guided Professional Development
  • Access to a National Cohort of Peers
  • 12 Months of Access to Online Course
  • "The Innovator’s DNA" by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen. and Clayton Christensen
  • Registration to NHSA’s Winter Leadership Institute in January
  • Registration, lodging, and meals at the Summer Executive Leadership Credential Summit in June
  • Discussion Forums
  • Digital Badge
  • Certificate of Completion from The Academy with Professional Development Hours
  • Certificate in Early Education Leadership (CEEL) from Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • 24/7 Access to Transcript

Course Facilitators

Dr. Deborah Bergeron

Dr. Deborah Bergeron

Dr. B served as director of the Office of Head Start from 2018-21. From 2019-21 she broadened her leadership as director of the Office of Early Childhood Development in the Administration for Children and Families. Known as "Dr. B" to former students and teachers, she spent three decades in pre-K–12 public education as a classroom teacher and school administrator. She currently serves as deputy director for Community Engagement and Innovation at the National Head Start Association.

Academy Experts

Academy Experts

With nearly 50 years of experience, research, and advocacy work, The Academy Team at NHSA has used the highest standards to create this course to support the professional growth and development of Head Start and Early Head Start staff and leadership across the country.

Registration Rates

NHSA Member Rate: $7,500

Not a member? Join to participate!