AASA Names 2016 Women in School Leadership Award Finalists


James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

Alexandria, Va. – Jan. 13, 2016
– Education leaders representing Alabama, New Jersey, Texas and Washington comprise the four finalists for the 2016 Women in School Leadership Awards, announced today by AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

Co-sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 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 pay tribute to the talent, creativity and vision of outstanding women educational administrators in the nation’s public schools.

“This award provides AASA and the nation’s education community with an opportunity to showcase the talented women educators who are providing outstanding leadership,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “We are grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for partnering with us in this program. We are also grateful to the four finalists for their commitment to excellence in public education and the tireless work they are doing on behalf of their respective school districts and the students who come to school every day in these communities.”  

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 finalists are:

Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent category:

Carla Santorno, superintendent, Tacoma Public Schools, Tacoma, Wash.
Under Santorno’s leadership, Tacoma Public Schools has initiated unique partnerships which have positive results for the Tacoma school community. The partnership with the Tacoma Housing Authority has provided housing vouchers for students at a low income, high mobility elementary school. The vouchers are tied to parent engagement and housing stability. Partnerships with three local four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, have yielded gap financial funding for qualified low-income students, priority admission to education programs with guaranteed teacher interviews at graduation from college and a whole child district initiative designed to provide a sustainable system for insuring high quality social emotional learning for PK-12 students.

Karen Rue, superintendent, Northwest Independent School District, Justin, Texas 
Rue joined Northwest ISD in July 2005 as the superintendent of schools. Under her leadership, the district continues to increase academic success while providing all students with opportunities and experiences designed to prepare them for their future. Rue is leading a transformational change in education at Northwest ISD and in Texas to ensure that all students are equipped for the digital age in which we live. She has a passion for public education and is dedicated to supporting ISD educators as they prepare students to be future ready: ready for college, ready for the global workplace and ready for personal success.

Central Office Administrator/Principal category

Kimberly Clark, assistant principal, Pinelands Regional School District, Little Egg Harbor, N.J.
Clark currently works at Pinelands Regional, a 7-12 public school district, as an assistant principal. In addition to her building-level responsibilities, she is the district supervisor of several departments including English as a Second Language, special education, and gifted and talented education. As a researcher, Clark focuses on the topics of educational leadership, feminist theory, gender performance and nontraditional administrative certification. A 2014 graduate of Rowan University’s educational leadership program, she has used her scholarship and professional practice to publish as well as present her findings locally and nationally.

Aimee Rainey, principal, Florence City Schools, Florence, Ala.
Rainey has extensive knowledge of the school improvement process. She served on the Alabama Commission of AdvancED for 10 years and co-chaired the committee leading numerous school accreditation visits and participated in several district accreditation visits. She currently serves as an Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) reviewer for colleges and universities going through the accreditation process. She has been a building-level administrator for 12 years, serving 10 of those as the principal with a proven track record of leading schools to success. She served as principal of Calcedeaver Elementary for four years and has been principal of Florence Middle School for six years.

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 administrator/principal category, will be announced during the AASA 2016 National Conference on Education, Feb. 11-13, 2016, in Phoenix, Ariz.

For more information about AASA’s Women in School Leadership Awards, contact Bernadine Futrell, AASA director of awards and collaborations, at bfutrell@aasa.org.


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.org.