My Background

Leigh McGuigan | leighmcguigan.comI am the co-founder and CEO of Vertus Charter School, an innovative high school for boys in Rochester, New York.  Our goal at Vertus is to re-invent high school for the boys who need it most.  Visit us at

Before founding Vertus, I worked as Interim Executive Director of Roads Charter High Schools in New York city.  Roads serves some of the toughest to reach students in New York.  Prior to that, I was at The New Teacher Project in New York City, partnering with states, school districts and charter management organizations to design and implement thoughtful, effective ways to manage teacher performance. Previously,  I led the Office of New and Innovative Schools for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The office is responsible for all aspects of new school development and operation, including authorizing, incubating, opening, financing, supervising, and managing schools to ensure high student achievement. Our new schools include two new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (“STEM”) high schools (with campuses at the Great Lakes Science Center and embedded in GE’s corporate research center), a nationally recognized high school for at-risk boys, three selective admission high school academies, four single gender K-8 schools, a charter middle school, and a charter high school credit recovery program.

Here are links to articles from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about some of our Innovative Schools:

Before coming to Cleveland, I was the Executive Director for School Leadership at the New York City Department of Education, the largest school district in the nation with more than 1 million students. In that role I was responsible for school leadership development strategy, policies, and processes, and for the recruitment and selection of principals and assistant principals for New York City’s more than 1400 schools. We developed a completely new way to choose principals, working with the union to create a competitively scored qualified candidate pool. We spearheaded the development of new programs to train and support school leaders, including developing innovative leadership development programs and launching a state-of-the-art new website for principals. We were also responsible for a significant initiative to transform the teacher tenure process, so that only those teachers who were effective in the classroom received lifetime job protection.

I spent ten years practicing law in Washington, D.C.’s largest law firms, was Senior Managing Director in Bank One’s Investment Management Group, and developed, a web-based retail business serving women adventurers, backpackers and climbers.

I have a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from Ohio State University, a J.D. with high honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.A. from Duke University.