Finalists for 2013 AASA Women in School Leadership Award

Contact: Kitty Porterfield, 703-774-6953,

Newport Beach, Calif., Sept. 27, 2012. Four finalists for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Women in School Leadership Awards were announced today at the Association of California School Administrators/AASA Women in School Leadership Forum held in Newport Beach, Calif. Co-sponsored by Farmers Insurance, the award is designed to recognize exceptional leadership of active, front-line female administrators who are making a difference in the lives of students every day and to pay tribute to the talent, creativity, and vision of outstanding women educational administrators in the nation’s public schools.

Candidates are judged based on leadership in meeting the learning needs of students, personal and organizational communication strength, constant professional improvement of knowledge and skills, and active community involvement. The final award recipients, one each in the superintendent/assistant superintendent category and central office/principal/specialist category, will be announced during the AASA 2013 National Conference on Education, Feb. 21-23, in Los Angeles, Calif.

The finalists are:
Ann Blakeney Clark, deputy superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, N.C.
Ann Clark has been the driving force behind a nationally recognized strategic staffing initiative that places a principal with a proven track record in an underperforming school. She was critical in helping CMS earn the prestigious Broad prize for Urban Education and was selected as one of eleven Broad Superintendent Academy Fellows targeted as a leader who will transform education. Ann has been instrumental in the school district’s data driven reform efforts, its focus on high quality leadership, and the development of innovative programs.

Harriet MacLean, principal, James B. Davidson Middle School, San Rafael City Schools, San Rafael, Calif.
In just four years, under Harriet MacLean’s courageous guidance, Davison Middle School has been transformed into a school that is student-centered, where leadership is shared, where students and families feel safe and proud, and where significant student achievement gains have been made by all students. Harriet led the faculty and community to a total redesign of the school. Teamwork and professional development were her chief strategies, and effective engagement brought the community into the process.

Kim Morrison, director of federal programs and strategic planning, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Kim Morrison has worked with teams in her district to secure 20 million dollars in grants to create programs to enhance the opportunities for students at struggling schools. She has spearheaded two National Magnet School Assistance Grant applications and increased the number of magnet programs from seven to seventeen. The U.S. Department of Education recognized the superior work of the magnet program by inviting Kim to participate in an online evaluation ‘toolkit’ to promote implementation strategies.

Amy Sichel, superintendent Abington School District, Abington, Pa.
Amy Sichel is an experienced, competent, self-motivated leader who provides the stability and consistency which undergirds the Abington School District’s excellent academic reputation. As past president of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and current president-elect of AASA, Amy has testified at both state and federal levels on behalf of public education. Amy’s career accomplishments were recognized in 2010 when she was voted the Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year.

“We believe it is important to recognize women in school leadership,” said Randy Rice, National Manager of Education Partners and Programs. “These women and their groundbreaking achievements inspire and pave the way for the female educators of tomorrow.”

“This award allows us to showcase the extraordinarily talented women who lead schools and districts all across the country,” said AASA executive director Daniel Domenech. “We are grateful to Farmers Insurance for partnering with us in this very important program—and we are grateful to these leaders for the skill and commitment they bring to public education.”
Twenty-five women from across the country were nominated for the awards: ten superintendents, seven deputy or assistant superintendents, three central office personnel, three elementary principals, one middle school principal, and one high school principal.

The nominees are:
Esther Asbell, Assistant Superintendent, School Administrative Unit 16, NH
Lydia Begley, Associate Superintendent, BOCES of Nassau County, NY
Angie Besendorfer, Assistant Superintendent, Joplin Schools, MO
Shirley D. Bynum, Director, Career and Technical Education, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, NC
Ann Blakeney Clark, Deputy Superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, NC
Wanda Cook-Robinson, Superintendent, Southfield Public Schools, MI
Lillie Cox, Superintendent, Alamance-Burlington Schools, NC
Lisa D. Craig, Elementary Principal, West Genesee Central School District, NY
Tamara Crawford-Van Wyhe, Director, Teaching & Learning, Copper River School District, AK
Wanda Creel, Superintendent, Barrow County School System, GA
Merrianne Dyer, Superintendent, Gainesville City Schools, GA
Cynthia C. Elsberry, Superintendent, Horry County Schools, SC
Christine M. Ermold, Elementary Principal, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, AK
Alesia N. Gillison, High School Principal, Columbus City Schools, OH
Mary Alice Heuschel, Superintendent, Renton School District, WA
Nannette Johnston, Superintendent, Hardin County Schools, KY
Kimberly Paine Lowry, Elementary Principal, Kennett School District 39, MO
Harriet R. MacLean, Middle School Principal, San Rafael City Schools – Elementary School District, CA
Barbara J. Martin, Deputy Superintendent, Kenton County School District, KY
Kim Morrison, Director, Federal Programs & Strategic Planning, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, NC
Noris Price, Deputy Superintendent, Clarke County School District, GA
Regina Rossall, Superintendent, Westside Union School District, CA
Annette Seago, Deputy Superintendent, Blue Springs R-IV School District, MO
Amy Sichel, Superintendent, Abington School District, PA
Nikki Woodson, Superintendent, Metropolitan School District of Washington Township, IN

About Farmers Insurance
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.

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 or on Facebook at

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