Dr. Ishimaru’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of leadership, school-community relationships, and educational equity in P-12 systems.  Her work focuses on improving educational leadership - both formal and family/community - to create equitable educational environments, with a particular focus on students, families, and communities who have been historically marginalized in education.  Formal P-12 educational leadership plays a vital role in addressing persistent disparities in student learning, outcomes, and success, but the field continues to struggle with how to understand and engage in practices that will provide meaningful educational opportunities for non-dominant students.  Moreover, parent and community leadership holds promise for improving educational systems, but equitable collaboration across educational and parent leadership is rare.  Dr. Ishimaru engages in community-based research to build collaborative leadership capacity for improving educational systems and leveraging the expertise and priorities of the students, families, and communities who have been least well served in these systems.

Ishimaru is a Principal Investigator on three major research projects:

  • The Family Leadership Design Collaborative (with Dr. Megan Bang) is a national-level participatory design-based research project aimed at re-centering nondominant families in racial equity efforts through the synthesis and co-design of research, measures, and practice to transform educational systems.
  • The UW Equitable Parent-School Collaboration Research Project (EPSC, with Dr. Joe Lott) is a multi-year research effort to understand, measure, and support district and community-based efforts to authentically engage families and communities in improving student learning and success within a collective impact initiative in South Seattle/South King County.
  • The Cultivating Capacity for Racial Equity in Education Project (with Dr. Min Sun & Dr. Filiberto Barajas-Lopez) and Organizational Leadership for Equity Project (with Dr. Mollie Galloway) examine how school leadership teams and district equity initiatives engage with data and tools to catalyze organizational learning and equitable instructional and leadership practices.


EdD, Harvard Graduate School of Education
EdM, Education Policy Management, Harvard Graduate School of Education
MA, Curriculum and Teacher Education, Stanford University School of Education

Honors & Awards

Exemplary Contributions to Practice-Engaged Research Award, American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2017
Jack A. Culbertson (Early Career) Award, University Council of Educational Administration  2016

Social Justice Dissertation Award, American Educational Research Association (2013)   

Special Interest Group: Leadership for Social Justice

Outstanding Dissertation Award, American Educational Research Association (2013)
    Special Interest Group: Family-School-Community Partnerships
Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award, American Educational Research (2011)
    Association Grassroots Community & Youth Organizing SIG

Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for Research Related to Education (2010)
Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fellowship (2010)
Ronald R. Edmonds-Charles M. Cheng Memorial Fund Fellowship (2009)
State Farm Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Award (2009)


Selected Publications

Ishimaru, A.M. & Takahashi, S. (2017). Disrupting racialized institutional scripts: Towards parent-teacher transformative agency for educational justice. Peabody Journal of Education, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2017.1324660.

Garces, L. Ishimaru, A.M., & Takahashi, S. (2017). Beyond interest convergence: Envisioning transformation for racial equity in Education. (Introduction to special issue). Peabody Journal of Education.

Ishimaru, A.M. (2017).  From family engagement to equitable collaboration. Educational Policy. doi: 10.1177/0895904817691841.

Galloway, M., & Ishimaru, A.M. (2017). Equitable leadership on the ground: Converging on high-leverage practices. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 25(2).

Ishimaru, A.M., Torres, K., Salvador, J., Lott, J., Williams, D., & Tran, C. (2016). Reinforcing deficit, journeying towards equity: Cultural brokering in family engagement initiatives. American Educational Research Journal, 53(4), 1-33. DOI: 10.3102/0002831216657178.

Barajas-López, F., & Ishimaru, A.M. (2016). “Darles el lugar”: A place for non-dominant family knowing in educational equity. Urban Education. doi: 10.1177/0042085916652179.

Galloway, M. & Ishimaru, A. M. (2015).  Radical re-centering: Equity in educational leadership standards.  Educational Administration Quarterly.

Galloway, M., Ishimaru, A. M. & Larson, R. (2015). When aspirations exceed actions: Leaders’ descriptions of educational equity.  Journal of School Leadership.

Ishimaru, A.M. (2014). Rewriting the rules of engagement: Elaborating a model of district-community collaboration.  Harvard Educational Review, 84(2), p. 188-216.

Ishimaru, A.M. & Galloway, M.K. (2014). Beyond individual effectiveness: Conceptualizing equitable leadership practice. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 13(1): 93-146.

Ishimaru, A. M. (2014). When new relationships meet old narratives: The journey towards improving parent-school relations in a district-community organizing collaboration. Teachers College Record, 116(2).

Ishimaru, A. (2013). From heroes to organizers: Principals and education organizing in urban school reform. Educational Administration Quarterly. 49(1): 3-51.

Ishimaru, A., Gordon, C., & Cervantes, R. (2011). A match on dry grass: Education organizing in Alum Rock," In M. Warren, K. Mapp and The Community Organizing and School Reform Project. Match on dry grass: Community organizing for school reform. New York: Oxford University Press.

Higgins, M., Ishimaru, A., Holcombe, R., Fowler, A. (2011). Examining the building blocks of learning in schools. Journal of Educational Change.

Childress, S., Higgins, M., Ishimaru, A. & Takahashi, S. (2011). Accountability and organizational learning in New York City reforms. In J. O’Day, C. Bitter & L. Gomez (Eds.) Education Reform in New York City: Ambitious Change in the Nation's Most Complex School System. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.


EDLPS 511 School-Community Relations

EDLPS 565 Race, Equity & Leading Educational Change

EDLPS 570 Critical Perspectives in Educational Leadership

EDLPS 547 & 548 (L4L only) Inquiry-based Leadership