William (Bill) Coats, Ph.D. worked to improve public education throughout his career. Serving in many roles such as superintendent at multiple school districts nationwide, university professor, foundation director and more, his passion for education and improving life chances for others has been a constant. In 1996, he founded The Leona Group to allow parents freedom and choice within the schools and promote the idea that “anyone can learn almost anything if we can make it relevant.” Dr. Coats’ first focus was Detroit, Michigan, due to the dropout rate being 76% with less than 1 in 4 freshmen earning their high school diplomas. Thus began the first partnership between César Chávez Academy and The Leona Group. Today The Leona Group Mid-West supports over twenty schools across Michigan, Ohio and Indiana and serves quality education to 7500+ students in grades PreK-12.
Beyond his drive to provide quality education to all children, Dr. Coats’ inspiration was drawn from a personal perspective. Proudly, he named the company after his mother, Leona. Leona grew up in a rural town in Ohio. She loved school and loved to learn; however, with the expectations at that time, her education was limited and she was unable to attend school past the 7th grade. Leona’s limitations inspired Dr. Coats' vision.
Leona symbolizes our company’s commitment to creating educational opportunities for all young people. Our philosophy about schools is that every family deserves a quality choice in free public education.