Two Californians Receive AASA 2012 Women in School Leadership Award

Contact: Kitty Porterfield, AASA,, 703-774-6953
Randy Rice, Farmers Insurance,



 Marilyn Shepherd
Monterey Peninsula
Unified School District

Lisa Gonzales
Coordinator of
Curriculum and Instruction
Santa Clara County
Office of Education

Arlington, Va., Feb. 17, 2012 – Superintendent Marilyn Shepherd and Lisa Gonzales, coordinator of curriculum and instruction today received the American Association of School Administrators’ 2012 Women in School Leadership Award.

The award, sponsored by Farmers Insurance and AASA, was presented at an awards ceremony preceding the second general session at the AASA National Conference on Education in Houston, Tex. Each honoree will receive a $1,000 check and a one-year membership to the American Association of School Administrators.

The Women in School Leadership Award recognizes exceptional leadership of active, front-line female administrators who are making a difference in the lives of students every day. The award pays tribute to the talent, creativity and vision of outstanding women educational administrators in the nation’s public schools. This year, an award was given in two separate categories: superintendent and cabinet-level leader. The criteria include demonstration of strength in both personal and organizational communication, professionalism and community involvement.

Shepherd has been the superintendent of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District since 2007. She has led the district in improving student achievement and moving toward exiting Program Improvement status, while at the same time managing the fiscal challenges imposed by the state. Her 32-year career includes being a classroom teacher, elementary and middle school principal, district level administrator and superintendent of two school districts. Shepherd received the CA Superintendent of the Year Award (Region 10) in 2008 and the Marcus Foster Memorial Award for Administrator Excellence (CA) in 2011. In her district, she is known as a risk-taker and lauded for her systematic approach to improving the quality of teaching and her ability to implement large-scale change.

Gonzales is coordinator of curriculum and instruction with the Santa Clara County Office of Education. She has spent 13 years in educational administration at the elementary, middle, and high school level and also served as director of curriculum and teacher training at the NASA Ames Research Center. She recognizes the importance of advocacy and legislative action and serves as the state vice president of legislative action for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). She is known as an educational leader whose skills in building relationships with the community lead to student success. Through her involvement with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, she works side-by-side with business representatives and government officials to implement change in the classroom, especially in the area of visual and performing arts.

“Together, these leaders embody what is very best in our school leaders,” said AASA executive director Daniel Domenech in announcing the awards. “They make things happen for kids. Each in her own way recognizes that a strong collaboration between school and community is the bedrock of educational excellence. We are pleased to partner with Farmers Insurance to honor them.”

“Farmers Insurance is proud to be a presenting sponsor of the AASA Women in School Leadership Award” said Faye W. McClure, Farmers Insurance vice president of strategic marketing. “We salute the achievements of the extraordinary women in administrative positions throughout our school systems."

Twenty-two women from across the country were nominated for the award. The nominees were:

Alda T. Benavides Superintendent La Joya Independent School District TX
Carol A. Blanchette Assistant Superintendent Chariho Regional School District RI
Caroline H. Bloxom Middle School Principal Worcester County Public Schools MD
Meria Joel Carstarphen Superintendent Austin Independent School District TX
Renee Cavor Chief of Transportation Cleveland Municipal School District OH
Pamela Chamblee High School Principal North Hampton County Schools NC
*Lisa Marie Gonzales Coordinator - Curr. & Instruction Santa Clara County Office of Education CA
Karyle M. Green Superintendent East Allen County Schools IN
Evelyn Jones Elementary Principal Griffin Spalding County Schools GA
Marsha Jones Associate Superintendent of Curr. & Instruction Springdale School District AR
Marilyn King Assistant Superintendent of Curr. & Instruction Bozeman School District MT
*Sandra L. Lewandowski Superintendent Intermediate District 287 MN
Mary Ann Manos Superintendent Hartsburg-Emden School District IL
Barbara J. Martin Assit. Supt. -Academic & Student Services Kenton County School District KY
Kristen M. McNeill Chief Strategies Officer Washoe County School District NV
Laura H. Nelson Assistant Superintendent School Administrative Unit 16 NH
Deneen Newman Superintendent Soledad Unified School District CA
Diane Pistilli Elementary Principal Jersey City Public Schools NJ
*Jane Wells Pruitt HS Principal/Supervisor of Instruction Worcester County MD
Tami Roskamp Superintendent Beecher School District IL
*Marilyn Shepherd Superintendent Monterey Peninsula USD CA
Mary Sieu Deputy Superintendent ABC Unified School District CA


About AASA
The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. The mission of AASA is to advocate for the highest quality public education for all students, and develop and support school system leaders. For more information, visit Follow AASA on twitter at Become a fan of the AASA Facebook page at

About Farmers Group Inc.
Farmers Group Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services, an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe as well as in Asia Pacific, Latin America and other markets. Farmers® is the nation's third-largest Personal Lines Property & Casualty insurance group. Property and casualty products are underwritten and issued by the Farmers Exchanges and their subsidiaries, which Farmers Group Inc. manages but does not own. Headquartered in Los Angeles and doing business in 41 states, the Farmers insurers provide homeowners, auto, business, life insurance and financial services to more than 10 million households.

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