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The issue of leadership in mathematics education—always a matter of some contention—has been complicated by developments in the field over the past half century or so. When mathematics education began to emerge as an academic field at the beginning of the twentieth century, so few people were seriously concerned with either its practice or its study that virtually all of them could be considered leaders of some sort. That situation prevailed until the new math era, when a new and larger generation of mathematics educators appeared in colleges and universities. Since the new math era, mathematics education people and programs have proliferated to such an extent that leadership has become much more diversified and identifying leaders much more difficult. Today we need attention not only to the nature of leadership in our field but also to a serious study of that leadership.
Note: Based on a colloquium presentation at Teachers College in March 2013. I am grateful to Bruce Vogeli and Henry Pollak for inviting and introducing my contribution, Gabriella Oldham for transcribing my remarks, Sandi Clarkson for catching several lapses, and Benjamin Dickman for helping untangle my thoughts on leadership characteristics. The remaining flaws are all my own.