Florida, Oregon Educators Receive 2015 AASA Women in School Leadership Award



James Minichello

703-774-6953 (cell)


 Florida, Oregon Educators Receive 2015 AASA Women in School Leadership Award

 San Diego, Calif. – Feb. 27, 2015 – AASA, The School Superintendents Association, announced today the honorees of the 2015 AASA Women in School Leadership Award. The outstanding educators are MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools and Michelle Zundel, principal of Ashland High School in the Ashland School District, in Ashland, Ore.

The award, sponsored by Farmers Insurance and AASA, was presented during the 150th anniversary celebration at AASA’s National Conference on Education in San Diego, Calif. Each honoree received a $1,000 check and a one-year membership to AASA.

“Farmers Insurance is proud to join with AASA to sponsor the Women in School Leadership Award, and to recognize the achievements of women in educational leadership who make a lasting impact on public education,” said Kelly LaMar, managing lead of Thank America's Teachers at Farmers Insurance. “As a company that believes in smart, we appreciate the role played by classroom teachers every day in shaping and leading the future. Our commitment to educational excellence is also reflected through our signature philanthropic initiative, Thank America's Teachers, which invites America to join us on our coast-to-coast tour from wherever they are and thank a teacher for the difference they made in our lives."

The Women in School Leadership Award, sponsored by Farmers Insurance and AASA, pays tribute to the talent, creativity and vision of outstanding women educational administrators in the nation’s public schools. Any female superintendent, assistant superintendent, aspiring superintendent, central-office director, school principal or other school system leader in the United States who plans to continue in the profession may apply. The award program is designed to recognize the exceptional leadership of active, front-line female administrators who are making a difference in the lives of students every day. One award is given in each category. 

“We are honoring talented women educators who are not only strengthening public education on behalf of their students, but also paving the way for more women in this country to take on leadership roles in our profession,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “We’re grateful to Farmers Insurance for supporting our program and women leaders in education. Congratulations to Superintendent Elia and Principal Zundel, as well as the other national finalists. We’re proud of each and every one of you.”

The award is given in two separate categories: the superintendent/assistant superintendent category and the central-office administrator/principal category. The criteria include demonstration of strength in both personal and organizational communication, professionalism and community involvement.

The applicants were measured against the following criteria:


·       Leadership for learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in the school system.

·       Communication – strength in both personal and organizational communication.

·       Professionalism – constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills, while providing professional development opportunities and motivation to others on the education team.

·       Community involvement – active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national and international issues.


The other national finalists were:

·       Karen Cheser, deputy superintendent and chief academic officer, Boone County Schools, Florence, Ky.

·       Julie Jensen, executive director for student services, Linn-Mar Community School District, Marion, Iowa.

Members of the 2015 AASA Women in School Leadership Award Selection Committee included:

·       Jill Cook, assistant director, American School Counselor Association, Alexandria, Va.

·       Wanda Cook-Robinson (2013 National Superintendent of the Year finalist), chief of staff, Oakland Schools, Waterford Township, Mich.

·       Martha Morris, director, K-12 Outreach, Reston, Va.

·       Patricia Neudecker (past AASA President), education director, MBA in Education Leadership, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Oconomowoc, Wis.

·       Kathleen Vail, director of editorial services, National School Boards Association, Alexandria, Va.  

For more information about AASA’s Women in School Leadership Award program, contact Paula Dearden, AASA director of awards and scholarships, at pdearden@aasa.org.  


About Farmers Insurance
Farmers Insurance Group of Companies® is a leading U.S. insurer group of automobiles, homes and small businesses and also provides a wide range of other insurance and financial services products. Farmers Insurance is proud to serve more than 10 million households with more than 19 million individual policies across all 50 states through the efforts of 50,000 exclusive and independent agents and nearly 22,000 employees.  For more information about Farmers, visit its website at www.farmers.com or at www.Facebook.com/FarmersInsurance.

About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa