Dr. Sharon Contreras is the CEO of The Innovation Project in Raleigh, North Carolina, a collaborative of 18 school districts across the state committed to high academic achievement, equity, and innovation. Dr. Contreras has held two superintendencies–one urban and one in a county-wide district serving urban, suburban and rural students. A true warrior for equity, Contreras is celebrated for implementing policies aimed at closing achievement gaps and improving life outcomes for all students. In Guilford County, she helped close the graduation rate gap and vastly expanded career technical education and Advanced Placement programs, as well as access to Dual enrollment programming to prepare students and their parents for the workforce. GCS’ high-dosage tutoring initiative and high-school learning hubs, developed during the pandemic, are considered a national model for addressing unfinished learning. In 2022, the GCS graduation rate increased to 91.8%, its highest ever. Contreras was named Superintendent of the Year by the North Carolina PTA (2019), was among Triad Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs in 2020 and is the 2022 AASA Women in School Leadership Award recipient. She was named to the Business North Carolina Power List 2022, a collective report of the state’s most influential leaders.