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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2021 Winners


Superintendent Award

 Noreen Bush was born in Detroit, Michigan; however, grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for most of her youth, graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1989. She is the youngest of seven children--five who are CRCSD graduates. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa in English Education; her Master's Degree, Superintendent license, and doctoral work are all from Drake University. Noreen began her career in education as a high school English, Speech and Theatre teacher in Clayton, Missouri and moved back to Iowa in 1999. Noreen started her educational administrative career in 2005 as an Assistant Principal at Prairie High School in College Community School District. She served in several administrative roles in College Community as well as Mount Vernon Community School District. She has been a principal at every grade level (elementary, middle and high) as well as a Director of Secondary Education and Innovation. In 2017, she was named Associate Superintendent of Cedar Rapids Community School District, then moved into the Deputy Superintendent role in 2018. She now serves as Superintendent of CRCSD, and in partnership with the Board of Directors, her focus is on the continued innovation and implementation of a bold five-year strategic plan focused on equity and designed to ensure all learners experience a rigorous and personalized learning so they have a plan, a pathway, and a passion for their future.


Central-Office Administrator/Principal Award Category

  Dr. Tanzy Kilcrease is a dedicated and passionate educator who serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for the Bibb County School District. Her love for children inspires her work in education. In fact, she left the field of journalism in order to return to school and realize her true calling in education.

Under her leadership as Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning her team has established expectations for curriculum, instruction, and assessment to provide consistency in practice across the district. She has developed professional learning on Formative Instructional Practices (FIP) and "Get Better Faster" that has been presented throughout the state of Georgia and at several national conferences. A District Literacy Leadership Team, which encompasses community members, has been established to monitor the District's Literacy Plan. She led the district to become one of the 38 recipients of the L4GA Grant affording the Westside zone with over $1.6 million dollars for improvement in literacy. The BSCD team received the College Board Linking Award for the concerted effort of providing Bibb County students with SAT preparation and SAT Day. The district's work with elementary schedules was also featured in the District Management Journal, a national magazine, in an article titled "Raising Achievement and Addressing Equity at Bibb County Schools". In March 2019, she presented on the District's Literacy Plan at the ASCD National Conference. Since 2015, the percentage of third grade students reading on or above grade level increased by 37.3 percentage points, and the percentage of 5th grade students reading on or above grade level increased 22.7 percentage points. She credits this achievement to the hard work of the BCSD Teaching and Learning Department, teachers, administrators, and the community partnerships that have been established under her tenure.

2020 Winners
  Susan Enfield 

Superintendent Award

Knowing every student by name, strength and need is the promise of Highline Public Schools. Under the leadership of Susan Enfield the district is delivering on this promise by implementing a bold strategic plan committed to ensuring that students graduate bilingual, biliterate with the problem-solving and critical thinking skills that will prepare them for the future they choose.

A former high school English, journalism and ELL teacher, Susan served as Chief Academic Officer and then as Interim Superintendent for Seattle Public Schools before coming to Highline in 2012. She previously held leadership positions in Evergreen Public Schools (Vancouver, WA), Portland Public Schools and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Susan is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and earned master’s degrees from Stanford University and Harvard University. She also holds a doctoral degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard’s Urban Superintendents Program.

 Shelly Reggiani  

Central-Office Administrator/Principal Award Category
 Shelly L. Reggiani, Ed. D., has over 25 distinguished years in public education, the past eight years as the Executive Director of Equity and Instructional Services for the North Clackamas School District (NCSD). This south suburban Portland district consists of 32 schools serving 17,327 students. There are more than 60 native languages spoken by students and families in the district, and the community is growing in its racial and cultural diversity. NCSD is continually recognized for its work with educational equity within Oregon and nationally.

Shelly has served the students of NCSD since she began teaching in 1994, and has consistently worked for inclusion and to remove barriers for historically marginalized student populations. As a second-year teacher, she partnered with colleagues to design and implement a model of instruction that connected students to authentic learning in highly engaging ways. This innovative model of instruction focused on college and career readiness and produced outstanding student results. Additionally, the model received regional recognition, Shelly presented it at the National Autodesk Foundation Conference in the mid-’90s and advised the Honolulu School District on implementing this method.

As a middle school assistant principal from 1999-2004, Shelly worked collaboratively with staff in embracing new service models that emphasized the inclusion of students with disabilities. Shelly served as an elementary principal at both Title 1 and non-Title 1 elementary schools and earned the State’s highest award for academic achievement in schools for two consecutive years. During that time, Shelly helped the school community transition through a construction bond and opening the state’s largest elementary school at the time.

In 2010, she became the Director of Services for English Learners and Interpretation and Translation Services. Next, she was promoted to Executive Director of Equity and Instructional Services, where she oversees and supports all federal Title educational programs, Talented and Gifted Education, Bilingual Education, Counseling and Social Services, Title IX coordination, culturally specific community engagement, and equity professional development within NCSD. Advocacy is at the heart of Shelly’s leadership and her work.

Lesley Bruinton

School Driven Leadership
Lesley Bruinton is an Accredited in Public Relations practitioner with more than 18 years of professional experience. The former television journalist now serves as the Public Relations Coordinator for the Tuscaloosa City (Ala.) Schools--an urban district with more than 10,000 students. It’s a job where she can continue her craft of writing with her rapid-fire typing skills. She can usually be found brainstorming and selling a big idea, much to the chagrin of those around her who know it will be a lot of work, but a lot of fun! She is a two-time past president of the Alabama School Public Relations Association, and a two-time Gold Medallion winner awarded by the National School Public Relations Association.

Bruinton holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Information Sciences (Telecommunication and Film) from The University of Alabama and a Master’s degree in Strategic Communication from Troy University. She presently holds the post of NSPRA President Elect and will serve as President in 2020.

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


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 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