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Nikki Raftery serves as a leadership coach within the ACE Principal Academy. Through her work she teaches elementary and high school principals across the country to intentionalize their practice and develop their leadership as culture carriers, instructional leaders and executive managers, in order to revitalize their schools and realize long-term sustainable change.
Committed to building the nation-wide collective capacity of Catholic school leaders, Raftery has helped grow the Principal Academy by imagining the Cabrini Fellowship, launching an alumni coaching program and through collaboration with partner (arch)dioceses.
Prior to this role Raftery served as principal in the Archdiocese of Chicago where she sophisticated instruction through professional development, intellectual preparation and cultivation of adult teams, catalyzing school-wide achievement growth of 20% and earning the US Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon. During her tenure as principal Raftery launched the first elementary STEM lab in Lake County, IL, instituted full-day preschool and prioritized research-based inclusive practices, making Catholic education accessible and growing enrollment 68%.
She has held Trustee positions at Saint Viator High School, Saint Mary School and The Academy at St. Joan of Arc. Raftery earned BS degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education from Purdue University and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from National Louis University. A consummate learner, Raftery maintains partnerships with The Robertson Center and the Skyrocket Coaching Community; she participated in Harvard’s Data-Wise Improvement Process and in the inaugural cohort of Notre Dame’s ACE Principal Academy.