Shirley Holloway is best known for establishing the Quality Schools Initiative, calling for high expectations for all students in Alaska and proving that all students, no matter their social, economic or ethnic background, can be academically successful. Holloway has been recognized as a woman breaking the glass ceiling to become one of the first female superintendents (North Slope Borough School District), the first female National finalist for Superintendent of the Year, and the first female Commissioner of Education in Alaska.
Shirley holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Gonzaga University, has published and presented numerous papers, and served on many boards and commissions. In 2005, she founded the Avant-Garde Learning Foundation, a non-profit foundation that helps communities, families and schools prepare young people for bright, successful futures. She has actively reached out to girls and women to help them, through mentoring and support, to achieve their desired goals. Today, many educational leaders in Alaska and Outside attribute their success to her inspiration and effective influence. Her guiding philosophy is Children Come First.
Currently, she is president of NAMI Alaska (National Alliance on Mental Illness).