Rachel McNae PhD


Rachel McNae is the Director of The Centre for Educational Leadership Research - and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of  Waikato, New Zealand.  She is also a Director of The Good Human Project - an organisation supporting people to flourish in education.

With a background in high school and tertiary education Rachel's research interests have always been to combine academic research with innovative leadership development approaches.  Her work involves  assisting passionate and innovative leaders to develop and enhance their leadership capacity through strength-based approaches.  

Rachel's extensive and internationally recognised research portfolio stems from a critical foundation of social justice with a specific focus on issues of equity, inclusion and diversity in educational leadership.  Her work is underpinned by the exploration of relational sensemaking and the sociocultural dimensions of leadership.  Her current research agenda involves surfacing the lived experiences of social justice leaders; women’s leadership; and examining the nature of innovation and community partnerships in the development of strength-based approaches.

Sharing her work across local national and international forums she advocates for socially just leadership within and across all education contexts through the engagement in sensemaking and embracing strength-based, culturally and contextually responsive leadership learning encounters.  Rachel is involved in numerous international research groups which support the field of social justice leadership research globally. 

In 2018 and 2016 Rachel was awarded the position of New Zealand Educational Leadership Society Visiting Scholar, and in 2016 she was the recipient of the International Emerald-European Foundation for Management and Development Outstanding Research Award for Leadership and Strategy.

Upcoming events

Contact Rachel to find out where she is speaking next...

Where has Rachel spoken recently?

New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society

Social Justice Leadership: Bringing connection, collaboration and care from margins to centre

New Zealand 

September 2022

 Women on the Fly

Invited Opening Address,

Wellington, New Zealand

October 2022

Hamilton Anglers Club

On the Rise - Women’s representation in fly fishing

April 2022,

Hamilton, New Zealand.

 North Shore Fishing Club

Rising status - Enhancing women’s representation in fly fishing: Supporting governance and leadership from the grassroots, July 2022, Auckland, New Zealand.

Check out this piece profiling some of Rachel's recent research with Waikato Tainui.

International Conference on Student Voice,   Agency and Partnership

Safe Spaces, Agency and Student Voice

Melbourne Australia

13 December 2019

National Academy of Educational Administration 

Students, Agency and School Governance

Ha Noi, Vietnam

24 November 2019

International Women Leading Education Conference

Nottingham, United Kingdom

9 July 2019

British Educational Leadership Society

Hinckley Island, United Kingdom

13 July 2019




Winner of the Copyright Licensing

New Zealand Education Book Awards in the Best Primary Resource Category!!



© Dr Rachel McNae
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