Women In School Leadership Awards Past Winners

The AASA Awards for Women in School Leadership Awards, sponsored by Horace Mann and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, recognize female educators whose talent, creativity and vision are exemplary. Three awards are presented annually at the AASA National Conference on Education.

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2019 Winners

wanda Cook Robinson

Superintendent Award
Wanda Cook-Robinson is a lifelong educator. She is an instructional architect who creates educational environments where all children can reach their optimum potential.
On July 1, 2015 she assumed the position of Superintendent of Oakland County Schools. In this role she has added her years of educational experience and vast leadership skills, to support the academic achievement of the 207,000 students in Oakland County’s 28 public school districts, public school academies (charter schools) and non-public schools.

She leads an organization dedicated to providing services directly to students through the Oakland Schools Technical Campuses, Early College programs, project-based, blended-learning programs, programs and services offered to children with special needs and the birth-to-Kindergarten population. Oakland Schools also works directly with educators to provide high-quality professional development and personal learning opportunities. Prior to this role, she served 14 months as the Oakland Schools Chief of Staff.

 Marie Izqueirdo

Central Office/Principal Award 
Marie Izquierdo is a career educator with more than 25 years of experience in school reform. She is the Chief Academic Officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the nation’s fourth largest school system, which serves more than 350,000 students and employs 53,000 teachers and staff. A former social studies teacher focused on dropout prevention, Izquierdo gained notice as the assistant principal for curriculum at Ponce de Leon Middle School in Coral Gables, where she worked to dramatically improve student achievement. During her tenure as a principal at Henry M. Flagler Elementary, the school went from being a C-rated school that had not met the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to a three-time A-rated school meeting NCLB.

In 2009 the Florida Department of Education recruited Izquierdo to boost student achievement in the state’s lowest performing schools as a Regional Executive Director in the Bureau of School Improvement. Under her leadership, 79% of targeted schools improved both their school grade and percentage of adequate yearly progress; 38% of those schools improved by two or more letter grades; and two schools went from F to A and met 100% of the requirements of NCLB. Later, as Deputy Chief of Staff to M-DCPS’ Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, she was instrumental in the favorable passage of a $1.2 billion General Obligation Bond for renovation and technology at over 340 schools as well as M-DCPS earning the prestigious Broad Prize in Urban Education in 2012.


2017 Winners

blondeanSuperintendent Award
Blondean Davis, superintendent, Matteson School District 162/Southland College Prep Charter High School, Richton Park, Ill.
Dr. Blondean Y. Davis is a 21st century no-nonsense educator and visionary whose mustard seed faith has grown into a top notch college preparatory high school that began seven years ago as a dream. Dr. Davis is recognized nationally as an educational leader who believes that every child has a right to learn and can achieve the skills needed for success.

Davis is the CEO and founder of the Southland College Preparatory Charter High School in Richton Park, Illinois and the superintendent of Matteson School District 162. In 2016, she was recognized by the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) with the Ida B. Wells Risk Taker Award for her contributions in educating African American students.

SuritskyCentral Office/Principal Award

Sharon Suritsky, assistant/deputy superintendent, Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pa.
Dr. Sharon K. Suritsky began her nearly 30 year career in education as a special education teacher at both the elementary and secondary levels. She joined the Upper St. Clair School District’s administrative staff in 1996 as supervisor of special education. In 2009, acting assistant to the superintendent for curriculum and instruction was added to her responsibilities and in 2012 she was elevated to assistant superintendent. Dr. Suritsky has served in her current capacity as assistant/deputy superintendent since July 2014.

In her current leadership role as assistant/deputy superintendent, Dr. Suritsky is responsible for overseeing the development and management of the K-12 instructional program, human resources, student support services, leadership development, advancement funding and safety/security functions.

glickSchool-Based Award
Fran Glick, coordinator of digital learning, Baltimore County Public Schools, Baltimore, Md.
Fran Glick is a career educator in Baltimore County Public Schools. In her three decades in education her experience as an elementary classroom teacher, elementary and high school library media specialist, and central office professional have shaped her passions in instructional technology, school libraries, and teaching and learning.

In her current role she supervises and leads work in school libraries and the effective use of technology in teaching and learning. Her expertise and experience guides her as she shapes policy, designs and delivers professional learning, and collaborates inside and outside of her district. 


2016 Winners 

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.

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.

2015 Winners

 MaryEllen - women award 2015

 MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools

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Panel Discussion 

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Michelle Zundel, principal of Ashland High School in the Ashland School District in Ashland, Or


Watch Video with Michelle Zundel [0:50]


 2014 Winners  


Karen Woodward, 
superintendent in Lexington County, S.C


Linda Carrillo,
principal of PSJA North High School in Pharr, Texas

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2013 Winners


Ann Clark
Ann Blakeney Clark
Deputy Superintendent
Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., schools

Harriet MacLean
Harriet R. MacLean
James B. Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, Calif.




2012 Winners



Marilyn Shepherd
Monterey Peninsula 
Unified School District

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


2011 Winner




Valerie Truesdale, Superintendent, Beaufort County Public Schools, S.C. is the first recipient of the AASA Women in School Leadership Award.




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Staff Contact: Bernadine Futrell, Ph.D., Director, Awards and Collaborations; Email:  bfutrell@aasa.org; Phone: 703-875-0717

2015 Winner