Three key themes of effective principal preparation practices are identified and shared with the broader education community

Reston, VA – October 5, 2017 – The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has released a new report on the American Express Principals Path to Leadershipinitiative.

The report articulates the experiences and practices being gathered from the five programs awarded a principal preparation grant in October 2015, which include:

Common and consistent themes regarding principal preparation have emerged from the work of these grantee organizations, namely:

  • Preparation begins with thoughtful identification of the most talented principal prospects.
  • Aspiring principals need an environment where they feel safe to make mistakes, reboot, and try again.
  • The most promising aspirants to the principalship readily acquire a habit of reflective practice, during which they consider their behavior in the context of their priorities.

Now in its third year, the Principals Path to Leadership grant program represents one of American Express’ largest investments in school leadership training to date, and continues the company’s commitment to leadership development across the social sector.

“For more than a decade, American Express has invested in targeted programs that develop the critical leadership skills of nonprofit and social purpose leaders,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president, American Express Foundation. “Schools are one of the places where talented leaders are always needed. By expanding principal and emerging principal preparation programs, and ultimately sharing best practices broadly through this report, we hope to ensure a new generation of principals are equipped for the challenges ahead.”

“According to Department of Education data, the U.S. has historically underinvested in principal development,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director, NASSP. “These findings point to what qualities preparation programs need in order to train school leaders for success. NASSP and American Express will continue to monitor the results of the Principals Path to Leadership program and present them to advance discussions of principal development.”

In partnership with NASSP, the American Express Principals Path to Leadership initiative is a philanthropic program designed to support and expand effective principal preparation programs. In October 2015, American Express and NASSP announced five recipients out of over 70 applicants from across the country to receive a Principals Path to Leadership grant. The grantees received a total of approximately $2.5 million to increase their capacity and impact over a three-year period, with the goal of long-term sustainability.

For more information on the Principals Path to Leadership grant program as well as highlights of each grantee’s work, please visit to download Principals Path to Leadership: Compendium of Effective Practices.

About American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow

One of American Express’ three philanthropic platforms is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social purpose sectors, American Express makes grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. More than 30,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express in-person leadership programs, including the American Express Leadership Academy among others. Launched in 2008, the American Express Leadership Academy addresses the growing deficit of leadership development programs in the nonprofit sector by bringing together emerging leaders from a diverse set of nonprofit, social sector, and non-governmental organizations. For leadership journey stories and additional resources, visit


The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high-quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor SocietyNational Junior Honor SocietyNational Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council.