Current & Former Honorees

Congratulations to the 2023 Women in School Leadership Award Winners

Winner in the Superintendent Category:

Tiffany Anderson
Tiffany Anderson, superintendent, Topeka Public Schools (Kan.)

Dr. Tiffany Anderson is the first African American female superintendent of Topeka Public Schools and she has been a public school educator for 28 years, with the majority of that time as superintendent.

In addition to her role as superintendent, Dr. Anderson advises Kansas officials on postsecondary policies, equity policies and legislation.

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Dr. Tiffany Anderson is the first African American female superintendent of Topeka Public Schools and she has been a public school educator for 28 years, with the majority of that time as superintendent. In addition to her role as superintendent, Dr. Anderson advises Kansas officials on postsecondary policies, equity policies and legislation. In 2019, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, appointed Dr. Anderson to the Postsecondary Technical Education Authority (TEA), as part of the Kansas Board of Regents and in 2020, Governor Kelly appointed Dr. Anderson to Co-Chair the Governor’s Kansas Commission on Racial Equity and Justice. Dr. Anderson is a fierce advocate for equity and in 2021, Dr. Anderson was a voice for the nation’s educators and testified to Congress during the Biden Administration on the Digital Divide.

Dr. Anderson has served as a public and postsecondary health advocate and has improved achievement and closed achievement gaps for students in Virginia, Missouri and in Kansas. While superintendent in Virginia, Dr. Anderson led Montgomery County Public Schools in earning the Virginia Governor’s Competence to Excellence Award. After leading as superintendent in Jennings, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis) Jennings School District moved from possible state takeover due to poor performance to earning accreditation with distinction and the Washington Post article referred to Dr. Anderson as, “The Woman who made schools work for the poor.” During her tenure in Kansas and in Missouri, the achievement scores, graduation rates and college placement rates increased. Topeka has received 4 national Magna Awards from the National School Board Association and various local and state recognitions under Dr. Anderson’s leadership for equity initiatives in schools, innovative public health programs addressing mental health and for academic achievement. Dr. Anderson is credited with leading the district to become a trauma informed district which has resulted in the district eliminating teen suicides for 3 consecutive years and reducing homelessness by 20%.

Dr. Anderson earned her undergraduate degree, and later her doctorate, from Saint Louis University in 2001, where she met her late husband, Dr. Stanley Anderson, who was an accomplished OBGYN and one of the first robotic surgeons in Kansas City at Research Medical Hospital. Dr. Anderson is an active National Alumni Board Member for Saint Louis University where she was honored with a second Doctorate as an Honorary Doctorate in 2020. Dr. Anderson was recognized with the Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Eden Theological Seminary for her service to community and society. Dr. Anderson is also a professor of practice for K-State and adjunct faculty for the Association for Schools and Curriculum Development (ASCD) where she serves on their 9-member national poverty cadre, which trains districts across the nation. Dr. Anderson serves on numerous Topeka businesses and not-for-profit boards. She serves on the Topeka Community Foundation, she’s a chairperson on the Greater Topeka Partnership Board, she’s a member of the Jayhawk Area Council of Boy scouts of America and she serves on the Topeka Jobs for America’s Graduates Board. Dr. Anderson’s publications include her books on transforming schools along with several articles on public health and equity in education, published in local and national magazines, blogs and newspapers. Her focus on health has been captured in publications by Heinemann Press, The Harvard Gazette, ASCD, and by numerous other agencies.

In 2016 and 2017, national documentaries were created about Dr. Anderson’s work with addressing poverty and transforming communities. In 2020, Dr. Anderson was a Kansas finalist for Superintendent of the Year after serving only 5 years and she was also named as the Kansas Icon in Education. In 2021 Dr. Anderson received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream and the Living Legacy Awards. In 2016, Dr. Anderson was recognized as one of the top six People with Purpose at the Oscars for her innovative work in education. In 2014, Dr. Anderson earned national recognition from Education Week as one of the nation’s 16 Leaders to Learn From. Other recognitions Dr. Anderson has received include the Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteerism from President Obama; the Salute to Excellence for Women awarded by the Urban League; the Stellar Performance Award by the St. Louis American and the award for Diversity in Business from the St. Louis Business Journal, among others. Dr. Anderson is a lifetime member of the NAACP and she and her late husband, Dr. Stanley Anderson, have two children who are college graduates and serving in public health in addressing, cancer research and in communications.

Winner in the Central Office/Principal Category:

CheyAnne Fant
Cheyanne Fant, district director of nutrition services and afterschool programs, Barren County Schools (Ky.)

Cheyanne Fant spearheaded initiatives with afterschool programming to include Project Lead the Way and other Technology and Literacy programs during out of school time for grades preschool through high school.

To help combat the summer academic slide and hunger, Fant developed a project called BC Reads and Feeds, providing over 15,000 books, 8,200 weekend meal kits and almost 3.4 million meals have been given to children in need over the past five years.


Read Full Bio

Cheyanne Fant spearheaded initiatives with afterschool programming to include Project Lead the Way and other Technology and Literacy programs during out of school time for grades preschool through high school.

To help combat the summer academic slide and hunger, Fant developed a project called BC Reads and Feeds, providing over 15,000 books, 8,200 weekend meal kits and almost 3.4 million meals have been given to children in need over the past five years. As former CTE teacher & high school guidance counselor, BC Work Ethics Vision Team Leader, and local Chamber Division Director, Fant has worked to provide services to ensure career opportunities and life skills that translate into essential workplace skills for the 21st Century.

CheyAnne Fant has worked for her alma mater district beginning her career in education 5 years after her high school graduation. As Senior Class President, school newspaper editor, state Beta Club officer candidate, and State Champion for FCCLA (formerly FHA) Creed-Speaking, the district knew her name before she applied to return to Barren County Schools as a substitute teacher. When she left the halls of the high school with dreams of being the next Dianne Sawyer, she began a college career in journalism & broadcasting. But, her passion for the hospitality industry pulled her into Hotel, Restaurant Tourism Management. This dream manifested into an internship as a server at 1996 Olympic Games, and she graduated with a her degree in a swift 4 years. Within a few months of the retail industry, CheyAnne decided to work full-time and return to Western Kentucky University to earn her degree in Family & Consumer Science Education, in hopes to one day teach students about the culinary & hospitality fields. With no turnover expected in the FACS field regionally, Fant returned to school as she accepted her first teaching job as a special education teacher for students with emotional & behavioral disorders. Within a short time, she earned her Master's in Exceptional Education. After two years in teaching, CheyAnne transferred to become the Culinary Arts instructor. With many accolades and awards related to her profession and passion for service learning, CheyAnne created a program called Designer Angels, a service learning project for students in her culinary & fashion design classes to work collaboratively to raise money for foster children who did not get Christmas presents. From National FCCLA Silver Star recognition for her culinary arts students to state culinary arts competitions and local catering, the students in her class were learning skills and also college credit, a model for the state of Kentucky. Later, she was asked to lead a statewide hospitality and culinary curriculum writing session, and that curriculum is still in use today. Even though she is out of the classroom she takes time to mentor the high school culinary arts teachers and students.

After that portion of her career, Fant finished another Master's and Rank I in School Counseling, and she became the full time 21st Century Community Learning Center Guidance Counselor for the afterschool program attendees and freshman. With such great momentum, the afterschool program grew to become more of a full-time job, with almost one-third of the student body participating consistently. The program was based on getting students ready for life, and community partnerships and career & college fairs based on job interests became a passion. During the second year, the program earned over $160,000 in partner contributions in addition to the grant. The program initiated many of the programs still used today in the high school such as Trojan Ambassadors, Project Lead the Way Biomedical Pathway, weightlifting & fitness classes, Freshman FOCUS Night, and much more.

In a few years, the district received 21st CCLC & afterschool grant funds for every school in the district, creating a district-wide director for these programs. Fant accepted that position and several months later, she added the nutrition services department under her development. Accepting this job has taken CheyAnne full-circle with her studies in Hotel, Restaurant Management, Journalism & Communications, Education, & Counseling. Her director job was a big challenge. She designed and opened nine afterschool programs with eight new coordinators. Given a disheartened cafeteria staff of almost 60 people and a $60,000 deficit in budget to start the year, there was much work to do to turn the department around. During the first year, the program rebranded, built relationships & trust, and increased participation to end the budget in a $20,000 surplus! The after school programs were thriving, and students were getting their minds and bodies fed properly. Over the last nine years, CheyAnne's talents for event planning, marketing, and public relations were put to use along with her other duties. You will often find CheyAnne, the Director of Nutrition Services, involved in the district innovations beyond her department boundaries.

Though a comfort zone is a beautiful place to be, CheyAnne is not content to stay there. Later this month, CheyAnne and the district wellness committees will be nationally recognized as America's Healthiest Schools based on work begun nine years ago. Just last month, the Barren Beyond the Bell Afterschool Programs were highlighted with the Kentucky School Board Association as one of the best in state. With the declining mental health of staff and students, CheyAnne took the initiative to become certified in Breathe for Change, a social & emotional learning curriculum and yoga instructor. She and her team have started offering free yoga training to students, staff and community members. She and the district grant writer have started a district communications team to help build community within the district and to showcase the staff and students of the district.

The Assistant Superintendent calls CheyAnne the heart of the district, and that can be seen in the warmth of her relationships with students, staff & community partners, the outreach projects she spearheads, and the bottom line of her departments. Of the many hats she wears, relationships and hospitality is her top hat, embedded into every beat of her being. To the Trojanette Varsity Basketball team, CheyAnne (AKA "Sport Spice") is their biggest cheerleader with pre-game pep talks, highlight & hype videos, along with high-fives or hugs after the games. To local farmers, she is a buyer of local foods to feed children & the “pumpkin lady” who buys gourds for every elementary student in the district. To the students in Chamber Leaders of the Future, CheyAnne (AKA Mrs. Manners) teaches business and dining etiquette and plans leadership retreats and education days. To the other directors at the board of education, CheyAnne is the bridge from focus to fun, and the supplier of free food samples. To the elementary afterschool programs, she started Project Lead the Way in afterschool programs to build foundations of better STEM practices. To the community, CheyAnne is the face of BC Reads & Feeds, Lead Forward Foundation, Chamber Board, and great catering. To the CFO of the district, CheyAnne is the biggest contributor of indirect costs from her departmental budgets, with a $4.2 million surplus. To the 6th, 8th, and 12th grade class and instructional department, she is the Work Ethics Certification and summer camp director. To the classroom teachers, she is the "head lunch lady" who brought breakfast to the classroom. To the hungry, CheyAnne is extra food slipped into backpacks for a long break and the food delivered to their home. To the child living in poverty, she is the collector of books that are given freely to children all over the county. To the bus drivers and classroom assistants, she is the organizer of Covid-19 food delivery to each student's home, totalling over 2 million meals. To the after school coordinators, she is the advocate for children's success, acceleration, and safety. To the coaches & tweeters, she is the branding police, making sure that everyone is using the branding guide. To her church, CheyAnne is an elder, past board chair, and meal provider. To her family, she is the queen of birthday dinners, gift-giving, and Halloween parties. To the dual credit chemistry teacher, she is his wife and the mother of their two boys and stepdaughter & son-in-law. To the soccer and football teams, she is Will and Dean's mom. To the orchestra program, she is Oliver's grandmother. With all these hats, she still finds the heart of each person she meets, and her heart makes the district, community, and family stronger.

Former Women in School Leadership: Superintendent Category Award Winners

2022: Sharon Contreras, Guilford County Schools (N.C.)

2021: Noreen Bush, Cedar Rapids Community School District (Iowa)

2020: Susan Enfield, Highline Public Schools (Wash.)

2019: Wanda Cook-Robinson, Oakland Schools (Mich.) 

2018: Blondean Davis, Matteson School District 162/Southland College Prep Charter High School (Ill.)

2017: Carla Santorno, Tacoma Public Schools (Wash.)

2016: MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough County Public Schools (Fla.)

2015: Karen Woodward, Lexington County (S.C)

2014: Ann Blakeney Clark, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (N.C.)

2013: Marilyn Shepherd, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (Calif.)

2012: Valerie Truesdale, Beaufort County Public Schools (S.C.)

Former Women in School Leadership: Central Office/Principal Category Award Winners

2022: Susan Field, assistant superintendent for learning services, Academy District 20 (Colo.)

2021: Tanzy Kilcrease, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, Bibb County School District (Ga.)

2020: Shelley Reggiani, executive director of equity and instructional services, North Clackamas School District (Ore.) and Lesley Bruinton (School-Based Award), public relations coordinator, Tuscaloosa City Schools (Ala.)

2019: Marie Izquierdo, chief academic officer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (Fla.)

2018: Sharon Suritsky, assistant/deputy superintendent, Upper St. Clair School District (Pa.) and Fran Glick (School-Based Award), coordinator of digital learning, Baltimore County Public Schools (Md.)

2017: Aimee Rainey, principal, Florence City Schools (Ala.)

2016: Michelle Sundel, principal, Ashland High School (Ore.)

2015: Linda Carrillo, principal, PSJA North High School (Texas)

2014: Harriet R. MacLean, prinipcal, James B. Davidson Middle School (Calif.)

2013: Lisa Gonzales, coordinator of curriculum and instruction, Santa Clara County Office of Education (Calif.)

Thank You to our Women in School Leadership Award Partner

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