Champions for Equity to Receive Humanitarian Award at AASA’s 2020 National Conference on Education

James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

Alexandria, Va. – Jan. 7, 2020 – Steven T. Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools, and Joe A. Hairston (posthumous), former associate professor at Howard University and co-founder of the AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy, will be recognized as Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award recipients at the opening general session of the National Conference on Education, Feb. 13, 2020, in San Diego, Calif. AASA, The School Superintendents Association, made the announcement today.

This award recognizes leaders who exemplify the qualities modeled by the late Effie Hall Jones, a school administrator, teacher, counselor, and former AASA associate executive director. These distinctive attributes included her professional and personal commitment to diversifying the field of education with high quality leaders and ensuring the best education for all students. She was profiled in the film “Women at the Top” for her work with women who aspired to the superintendency.

“Dr. Effie H. Jones, a change agent who worked tirelessly to diversify the field of education, would have been proud of our 2020 honorees as both have exemplified what it means to be champions for equity, excellence and innovation throughout their respective careers,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “This award was created to recognize educators who have helped our neediest students in America. To the family of Joe Hairston and to the community of Vancouver Public Schools, it is with gratitude that we will honor the great work by this year’s recipients at our national conference.”

Webb, a former National Superintendent of the Year® finalist, has enjoyed a 35-year career in public education in Washington and California, serving as superintendent, deputy superintendent, assistant superintendent for secondary learning and technology, principal and assistant principal, high school teacher and coach.

“I am honored and humbled to be chosen as a 2020 honoree for AASA’s Dr. Effie H. Jones Award,” said Webb. “I am so proud of our students, staff and community. We’re transforming student trajectories together. This prestigious award is a tribute to the hard work by the outstanding educators in Vancouver Public Schools and a deeply committed community. We are accelerating student achievement, closing opportunity and achievement gaps, and getting more graduates across the finish line prepared for college, careers and life.”

Webb has recruited, selected and/or promoted 17 women into cabinet-level leadership positions. In addition, VPS has established a network of Family-Community Resource Centers in 18 poverty-affected schools and created two mobile FCRCs to serve other schools. Those strategic initiatives and others have improved the four-year graduation rate from 64 percent in 2010 to 85 percent today in a diverse district where roughly half of the students qualify for federally subsidized meals and approximately 100 languages are spoken.

As the 2017-18 president of the Washington Association of School Administrators, Webb encouraged and supported equity opportunities including a Women in Leadership conference. He was the 2016 Washington State Superintendent of the Year.

Hairston died Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, at the age of 71. He held positions as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent, before becoming a superintendent of schools with the Atlanta area’s Clayton County Public Schools for five years.

Hairston also served as superintendent of Baltimore County (Md.) Public Schools for 12 years. While in his first year there, he chartered a direction for the school system through the Blueprint for Progress, which presented key strategies and concrete performance indicators.

He joined the faculty of the Howard University School of Education in 2014. It was there where he played a key role as co-founder of the AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy. Launched in 2015, the Urban Superintendents Academy offers superintendents and aspiring superintendents a revolutionary new approach to ensure success in urban settings.

“This is all about preparing you for the next dimension of leadership. You can’t turn your back on people who are depending on you for sound judgment and more importantly, a vision of where you’re going,” Hairston said when he addressed the 2019 Urban Academy cohort gathering in Alexandria, Va., last summer.

For his achievements, Hairston has been honored with dozens of local, national and international awards, including The Washington Post’s Outstanding Distinguished Educational Leadership Award. He has served on the Board of Trustees for Western Governors University and as past president of the Horace Mann League.

For questions about the award, contact Sharon Adams-Taylor, AASA associate executive director, at For information about AASA’s National Conference on Education and to register for the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award luncheon on Friday, Feb. 14, visit


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 equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit