First Name


Last Name




Name Pronunciation

mish-ell leeb-heart



City and State

Portland, OR


I'm here because

Why me? I have fully embraced the concept of being a lifelong learner. I had a unique upbringing that allowed me to follow my curiosity and feed my joy every day. I got to co-design my learning experience from Kindergarten to college, and my classrooms ranged from wildcrafting edible native plants and using natural dyes to color handmade clothing to being mentored by a marine biologist at the Mark Hatfield Marine Center. Then I went to college and I learned that what gets rewarded is what other people think of the work you produce, not the depth of the experiences you have. I spent four years of college and a decade of my career and personal life trying to “do everything right”, which meant doing what it took to earn praise and recognition and avoid conflict. My current phase of learning/unlearning is trying to synthesize these two ways of living life that I have experienced, and to use all that I have learned in the rigid system we exist in to help all students have experiences as free and genuine as my early learning was.

Why this? Because there are so many ways of doing things, but we get stuck in the ways that are comfortable and familiar, even if they aren’t the best way or the easiest way. Sometimes this leads us to do things we would never dream of if we were starting from scratch, but that we never question because it’s how things have always been done. This work makes it possible to set aside the chaos and constraints of what is currently holding us back and explore new ways of doing things.

Why here? Because here is the best place to be!

Why now? There’s a lot of really difficult things happening in the world, in my community, and in my personal life, and doing this work is actually really encouraging and restores my hope. Being surrounded by my people talking about things that really matter feels like a gift.

I got here through

Up until recently, I would have said curiosity, because that characteristic is what has always been my driving force to approach a change or a challenge and stick with it even when things got difficult. Or problem solving, because I get a major adrenaline rush from conquering a really juicy issue. But right now, I think compassion is the skill that I’m relying on the most. Compassion helps me resist the allure of black and white thinking, and allows me to embrace a fresh start for both myself and others.

My hope for this community

Sometimes when we are trying to solve big wicked problems, it’s like trying to untangle a knotted ball of string. Pulling on the wrong part can just make the whole thing feel tighter and more hopeless, and pretty soon we get paralyzed by being afraid we will make it worse. My hope for school leaders in Portico is that having extra eyes on the wicked problems faced by so many school leaders can help us find the strings to pull on and begin the process of untangling.

I can support you with

My favorite part of this work is the discovery phase at the beginning, as school leaders begin to engage their staff, students, and community around a shared vision for student readiness. I love strategizing about ways to get everyone’s voice involved in the process, and I’m always here to tell you that if you are taking your time during this phase, you are doing it right. I believe that connecting with as many of your people as possible through this process is an investment in the relationships and shared values needed to transform the student experience.

My story

When I started my career as a research assistant for Inflexion (then the Educational Policy Improvement Center), I was ecstatic that I would get to work in education, for a non-proft organization with a mission to improve the lives of students, and that somebody wanted to pay me to do this every day. Even better, in addition to using my existing research skills, I got to develop new skills as we moved into the ed tech space and I learned how to manage databases and software development projects, and then into the consulting space where we focused on how to support school leaders. My curiosity was again indulged and rewarded as we looked for the answer to the question: how can we help schools help students to succeed in life? Fifteen+ years later I’m still in that rabbit hole, but I’ve finally accepted that this isn’t a question with an answer at the end. This is a question that leads to infinite additional questions, all worthy of exploring.

Contact Information