Nation’s Third Class of Educators Honored for Completing AASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy® at National Conference on Education



James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

San Diego – Feb. 15, 2020 – AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is pleased to announce today the 2020 class of superintendents and other administrators to graduate from its Aspiring Superintendents Academy®. The outstanding educators were honored at the organization’s National Conference on Education in San Diego, Calif.  

The group of aspiring superintendents completed 10 months of intensive coursework on leadership topics, such as Leading with a Vision for Excellence, Effective Community and Stakeholder Communications and Engagement, and Working Effectively with the School Board. Participants also completed a capstone project on school leadership. 

Congratulations to the graduates of our Aspiring Superintendents Academy®, a program that provides leadership training and development to mold education leaders who aspire to reach the superintendency,” said Daniel A. Domenech, AASA executive director. “Through our program, participants will have access to a robust network of fellow national leaders for the rest of their careers.”

The AASA Aspiring Superintendents Academy® cohort graduates were:

  • Fernando Benavides, director of secondary human resource services, Mansfield Independent School District, Mansfield, Texas
  • Marlinda Boxley, senior project director, Innovation in Education Reform, Bethesda, Md.
  • Jeff Bresler, assistant superintendent of schools, Mehlville School District, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Steve Burnham, principal, Wilson School District, Sinking Spring, Pa.
  • Rick Carter, executive principal, Athens City Schools, Athens, Ala.
  • Erika Cook, bureau chief, leading, teaching and learning services, Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Natalyn Gibbs, executive director, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Alesia Gillison, chief engagement officer, Columbus City Schools, Columbus, Ohio
  • Douglas Kent, assistant principal, Radnor Township School District, Wayne, Pa.
  • Debbie Lane, director, talent development/professional learning, Alexandria City Public Schools, Alexandria, Va. 
  • Nancy Martinez, assistant principal, Orange County Public School District, Orlando, Fla.
  • Margaret McGregor, instructional support leader, Chicago Public School District 299, Chicago, Ill.
  • Terry Morawski, deputy superintendent, Fort Smith School District, Fort Smith, Ark.
  • Phil Potenziano, assistant superintendent, Maine Regional School Unit #21, Kennebunk, Maine
  • Kelvin Stroy, director of student services, Mansfield Independent School District, Mansfield, Texas
  • Patricia Sullivan-Kowalski, senior director, student supports and special education, Meriden Public School District, Meriden, Conn.
  • Tami Vardy, superintendent, Boyd Independent School District, Boyd, Texas
  • Brent Yeager, assistant superintendent for learning services, Olathe Public Schools, Olathe, Kan.
  • James Zavodjancik, principal, Shelton Public Schools, Trumbull, Conn.

This program focuses on developing a professional practice grounded in evidence-based knowledge, skills and dispositions, resulting in certification and transition for participants into their first position as a superintendent.

For more information about AASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy®, contact Mort Sherman, AASA associate executive director, at

Regarded as the most comprehensive professional learning and networking event for school superintendents and administrators, AASA’s National Conference on Education is addressing the most critical issues affecting public education today, including equity in education, social and emotional learning, personalizing education, early learning, technology, and school safety and leadership.

For more information about the conference access  Conference Daily Online.     


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