For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Nora Ligurotis | 312.216.1708


Catherine Burns named Chief Academic Officer at Accelerate Institute


Responsible for optimizing principal training programs and generating strong results in the Institute’s mission to close the education gap in urban K-12 schools.


August 29, 2017 | Chicago –  Accelerate Institute today announced the promotion of Catherine Burns to the newly created position of Chief Academic Officer. Burns, previously Accelerate Institute’s managing director, will take on a more rigorous role in generating strong results in the urban K-12 schools for which the Institute provides leadership development and training programs.  

“This is a well-deserved promotion for Catherine, who has worked diligently over the last seven years with the principals we serve in high-needs areas to hold the mindset and skill set to be transformational school leaders,” said Nora Ligurotis, chief executive officer of Accelerate Institute. “I look forward to working with Catherine in challenging our organization to continue to level up urban schools all over the country in our mission to close the education gap.”

As managing director, Burns led the Institute’s Curriculum and Assessment Team and has driven the implementation of the leadership training programs and the Ryan Awards, which recognize outstanding urban K-12 school principals. She has worked with 120 school leaders from urban areas across the country, including Chicago, New York, Newark, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Jose.

“I am eager to collaborate closely with our CEO and to work hand-in-hand with our Talent, Development and Operations teams to determine the most efficient and effective methods to do the important work of The Accelerate Institute,” Burns said. “Through the work of our remarkable teams, we will continue to challenge the status quo on what is possible in education for traditionally underserved communities.”

Burns was recently appointed a commissioner for the Illinois State Charter School Commission and serves as vice-chair of this independent body with statewide chartering jurisdiction and authority.  As commissioner, she reviews applications and provides guidance to candidates to increase the quality of applications and raise the level of professional practice in the Illinois charter sector.

Prior to joining Accelerate Institute, Burns was an educator and principal at a Chicago charter school. She holds an E.D.D. from Roosevelt University, an M.A. in education leadership from Roosevelt, an M.A. in history from Eastern Michigan University, and a B.A. in history from Northern Illinois University.

Accelerate Institute is dedicated to ensuring all children have the opportunity to achieve to their fullest potential. It identifies high-performing, results-focused school leadership with a passion for closing the education gap in urban education.