Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE, the executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, is a veteran association executive and advocate for public education and school leadership with over three decades of pre-K–12 education experience.
In his role as NAESP’s executive director, Franks advances the Association’s mission to lead in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle-level principals and other education leaders in their commitment for all children. He represents the nation’s pre-K–8 principals on the Board of Directors of the Learning First Alliance, the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA), and as a member of multiple national educational organizations and coalitions.
NAESP, which was founded in 1921, believes that principals have the vision, courage, wisdom, and professional knowledge to lead learning communities that create opportunities for all children to achieve their highest potential. Franks, who began this role in July 2017, is the Association’s seventh executive director.
Prior to his selection as the NAESP executive director, he served as executive director of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS), Alabama’s leading umbrella organization for principals and school administrators. In his nine years at the helm of CLAS, Franks was the driving force behind the organization’s innovation and growth. The group achieved record membership levels eight out of nine years. With a target of continuous professional development for its members and a focus on fostering innovation, Franks pioneered the groundbreaking Certified Instructional Leader (CIL) program, which offers an advanced credential to principals and other school/district leaders.
Prior to serving as CLAS executive director, he served as a leader on the CLAS Board of Directors; before that, he developed broad experience in public education by working with the school system from top to bottom, and in all grades. Franks served as a principal from 1999 until 2008 at Luverne School in Luverne, AL, a pre-K-through-12 school serving 1,000+ students. Prior to that, he earned a glowing reputation as an award-winning band director.
Franks is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow with Major Donor distinction from Rotary International and has received leadership awards from the Alabama Music Educators Association, Troy University Music Department, as well as the prestigious Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential from the CAE Commission of ASAE, the Center for Association Leadership. He was inducted into the Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame in 2018.
Franks received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He received his Bachelor of Music Education, Master of Science in Education, and Educational Specialist degrees from Troy University in Troy, Alabama.