Applied Critical Leadership

Applied Critical Leadership

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Educational leaders are seeing the increasing need for practical transformative models and theories to address academic, cultural, and socio-economic gaps separating learners at all levels of the educational system. Applied Critical Leadership in Education explores a leadership model arising from critical theory and critical pedagogy traditions that transforms status quo educational practices. Providing a range of diverse voices of practicing leaders from prekindergarten through higher education, explicit ties to theory and practice are drawn, making leadership for social justice accessible, feasible, and more practical for aspiring and practicing leaders alike.


Applied Critical Leadership -

a strengths based model of leadership practice where educational leaders consider the social context of their educational communities and empower individual members of these communities based on the educational leaders’ identities (i.e., subjectivity, biases, assumptions, race, class, gender, and traditions) as perceived through a critical race theory (CRT) or other critical lens (e.g., LatCrit, Queer, Feminist, TribalCrit)

Meet the Authors

Dr. Lorri J. Santamaría

Lorri Santamaría graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Bilingual Elementary School Education. She then received an MA and PhD in Bilingual Special Education Rehabilitation and School Psychology from the University of Arizona with an emphasis in Multicultural Education. Lorri attained certification in Educational Administration in the state of California. She joined the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland in June of 2012.


Over the last 18 years, Lorri has held a wide variety of positions in public education ranging from bilingual classroom teacher to special day class teacher to district administrator in Arizona and California. In addition to her K-12 public education experience, Lorri has most recently been the California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) Director for the Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership with the University of California, San Diego where she collaboratively supported students who were practicing educational leaders working toward the attainment of terminal degrees. The program included the rigorous examination of strengths in students’ organizations, their building leadership capacity, and facilitating the potential of systems for transformation.

Lorri presents at the local, state, national, and international level around culturally responsive education, the creation and maintenance of culturally responsive school cultures, and the impact of cultural and linguistic diversity on the field of educational leadership. Her research interests include the impact of social justice and educational equity on leadership for a diverse society including the roles cultural, linguistic, and gender diversity play in educational leadership for a global society.

 Dr. Andrés P. Santamaría

Andrés Santamaría graduated from UC San Diego with a BS in Biology: Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution.  He then received an MA in Bilingual Special Education from the University of Arizona.  Andrés completed his EdD in Educational Leadership at UC San Diego.  He recently joined the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland in January of 2013. 

Within his current role, Andrés serves as a researcher for the Starpath Project, a lecturer for Educational Leadership courses in the School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice, and a facilitator for The University of Auckland Centre for Educational Leadership.

Prior to his current role, Andrés served as a Primary School Principal for six years in San Diego, CA. Andrés began his professional career as an intermediate Science Teacher followed by a career as a primary and intermediate level Special Education Teacher.

Andrés' research agenda focuses on increasing educational leaders' awareness of how social justice and equity, accountability, and diversity interplay within school organizations.  Using Applied Critical Leadership as a vehicle to drive this agenda, Andrés seeks to promote and sustain leadership practices aimed at improving student achievement outcomes for underrepresented students in education, enabling them to engage and succeed in mainstream contexts within society. 


Through his work with the research team at the Starpath Project, Andrés supports partnering secondary schools in Auckland and the Far North to improve school systems and practices for fostering postsecondary pathways for Māori and Pacific learners, as well as other students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This support focuses on the implementation of key strategies developed by Starpath including Data Utilisation, Academic Counselling, and Target Setting (DUACTS), as well as improving home-school relationships through Parent-Student-Teacher conferences and the establishment of a longitudinal database to assist schools with tracking students credits in meeting NCEA requirements.