Dr. Oriana Leach is an accomplished research scholar, filmmaker, and educator who has devoted the last fifteen years to creating equitable spaces in P-20 education through research and practice.  Dr. Leach attended New York University where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Film and Television Production from Tisch School of the Arts, and she went on to pursue a Master of Science degree in Education at St. John’s University where she graduated with highest honors.  After several years in the advertising and education sectors, she decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Educational Psychology from North Carolina State University where she graduated in 2018 after producing a ground-breaking dissertation study and related documentary film that centered the academic experiences of gifted Black girls attending predominantly White schools, and used a Critical Race Theory lens to understand how those experiences were shaped by the girls’ racial identity development, parental socialization messages, and sense of belonging.

Dr. Leach has served as both the Program Director of Academic Year Programs and the Assistant Director of Assessment, Evaluation and Advancement at Duke University; Data Scientist and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant at The Diversity Movement; and Senior Researcher at Learn.  While in the EdTech industry, Dr. Leach also co-led a major mixed-methods research project on K-12 schools around the nation whose students of color and economically disadvantaged students exceeded expectations in reading and mathematics during the pandemic school year (i.e., 2020-2021) and “beat the odds”.  Her research received national recognition and was even featured in EdWeek.

During her stint at North Carolina State University, Dr. Leach served as  a program evaluator at The William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation on a 5-year multi-million-dollar National Science Foundation grant where she led qualitative data collection and analysis efforts and disseminated research findings across stakeholders.  While at North Carolina State’s center for Educational Informatics, Dr. Leach managed large-scale research projects with research teams across the country, led grant writing and recruitment efforts of districts, schools and universities.

Not only has Dr. Leach taught at the K-1 and university level with appointments at both North Carolina State University and Carolina University, but she has also served as a regular reviewer for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the Journal of International Studies.  It has also been important for her to remain active in her community and in the workplace to advance equity through concrete, on-the-ground action.  Hence, she has served on several local and national committees throughout the years that are centered on equity initiatives in education, including the Equity and Innovation Committee with the Durham Public Schools Foundation and Gifted Racial Accountability Committee on Equity (G.R.A.C.E.) Committee with the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).

Dr. Leach regularly conducts independent qualitative and mixed-methods research on the P-20 schooling experiences of BIPOC students and the gendered racial experiences of faculty of color in higher education.  She was the lad author on a heavily cited student that documented the experiences of Black faculty and staff in higher education and the impact of racial microaggressions on their mental health using Critical Race Theory.  She has also used intersectionality and identity development frameworks to examine the gendered racial experiences of women of color.  She has published several book chapters, journal articles and white papers, and presented her research at several national conferences, such as the annual conferences for the American Education Research Association (AERA), American Psychological association (APA), the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI).

Additionally, Dr. Leach is the founder and Board President of The Obsidian Institute, a 501(c )(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing out-of-school enrichment programming to gifted and talented youth from traditionally marginalized communities.  She is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Research, Equity, and Training in Education, LLC (C.R.E.A.T.E.), where she focuses on achieving equity in K-12 and higher education.  She also hopes to use documentary filmmaking as a narrative change strategy to shift narratives and influence policy change.

When she is not working or advocating for social justice in social systems, Dr. Leach is an active and involved parent.  She is also a foodie who enjoys raveling to new places around the country and world.  She enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.