Incoming Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles announced the names of additional individuals who will serve as key members of his leadership team on Tuesday.
Miles, officially starts his job as the superintendent on July 1, said the district is fortunate to have attracted top-level talent both locally and across the nation.
"This diverse group of highly competent individuals has an incredible wealth of talent, passion and expertise in the field of education, and I am excited that they will be joining us,” said Miles. “Our goal is to take a good school district and make it great for all students. All in all, we have significant momentum in transforming the direction of the district through the aggressive goals of the Destination 2020 plan.”
According to Miles, the new administrative structure has already saved the district $1.2 million.
The new hires and their positions are below:
Bios of newly hired talent:
Chief of School Leadership, Dr. Sylvia Reyna, Ph.D., is the current Chief of Administration, Fort Worth Independent School District. In her current role, Dr. Reyna has supervised all Human Capital Management functions while redesigning the department to ensure the development and growth of more than 10,000 employees. Reyna has served in numerous school leadership positions including Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for Edgewood ISD in San Antonio and Assistant Superintendent for Accountability, Assessment and Research & Development with San Antonio ISD. Her 33-year career in education also includes leadership in the areas of employee and governmental relations, external affairs and community engagement, as well as principal, assistant principal, and teacher. Reyna holds a B.A. in French and Spanish from Incarnate Word College, a M.A. in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Administration from Texas A&M University.
Five assistant superintendents will report to Dr. Sylvia Reyna in the School Leadership Division and will be responsible for providing leadership to 20 executive directors who oversee school principals. The five Assistant Superintendents are:
Mauricio Dominguez, current Superintendent/Founding Principal of Williams Preparatory, Uplift Education, Dallas. In his most recent role, Dominguez has been at the helm of Williams, a TEA Exemplary school since its inception and one that Newsweek recently ranked as the #8 most transformative high school in the nation. His responsibilities have included developing and maintaining a $9.5 million budget; creating marketing strategies to recruit students, teachers, and support staff; and monitoring and supporting instructional practices of 65 instructors and 7 administrators. Over his career as an Army specialist, teacher, counselor, and superintendent, Dominguez has developed experience in areas such as student and teacher recruitment, teacher development, strategic planning, and team management. Dominguez holds a B.A. in Molecular Biology/Biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a M.S.A. from Texas A&M University, Commerce.
Josie Hernandez-Gutierrez, Ed.D. current District Steward, Fort Worth Independent School District. As a District Steward, a cabinet level position equivalent to an Assistant Superintendent, Hernandez-Gutierrez has overseen the implementation of districtwide strategies aimed at transforming district and campus systems. As a former FWISD Director of School Leadership, she also directly supervised the overall operations of 20 schools to ensure alignment with the district’s goals and plans. Hernandez-Gutierrez has also been a first grade ESL teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal in FWISD.
Hernandez-Gutierrez has her B.S. in Education-Child Studies from Texas Christian University, and M. Ed. and Ed.D. in Education Administration from the University of North Texas.
Shirley Ison-Newsome, current Interim Division Executive, Dallas Independent School District. In her current role, Ison-Newsome oversees the operations of 227 Dallas ISD schools. Prior to this role, she served as a teacher, Dallas ISD’s first dean of instruction, principal, area superintendent and the district’s first chief of staff among other positions. Her accolades include the Dallas Urban League’s President’s Award, South Dallas Business and Professional Woman’s Club’s Woman of the Year, induction into the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) National Hall of Fame as well as had a scholarship named in her honor. Her civic involvement includes serving in the North Texas Conference United Methodist Church’s Board of Trustees, advisory board to the Bickel and Brewer Foundation and executive board of directors for Dallas Regional/NABSE, of which she is a tri-founder.
Ison-Newsome holds a B.S. in Social Science from Indiana University, a M.A. in Educational Administration from the Ohio State University, and a M. Ed. in Secondary Education from the University of Louisville.
Aurora Lora, current Executive Director, Seattle Public Schools. In this capacity, Lora provides day-to-day oversight and supervision of administrators and school staffs in 20 schools ranging from K-12. Prior to this role, Lora founded and led the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women, the only public all-girls middle/high school in the state of Oregon. She has also worked in numerous capacities with Teach For America as an Associate Institute Director, Instructional Coordinator, Curriculum Specialist and teacher. Lora has been the subject of a book written by Teach For America titled Ms. Lora’s Story. Her many accolades include Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award and Houston ISD’s Ryan Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Lora holds her B.A. in Plan II Honors and Psychology Honors from the University of Texas, a M.Ed. in Education from the University of St. Thomas, a M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University, and is currently pursuing her M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University.
Milan Sevak, Ed.D. current Executive Director of Educational Strategy, Chicago Public Schools. Sevak has led the development and execution of capacity-building/improvement strategies for 36 elementary schools while supervising and supporting the development of a cohort of principals. Sevak’s tenure in Chicago also includes a period as the Deputy Chief of School Performance where 74% of principals reported an improvement in management practices and the percentage of teachers reportedly using data to inform instruction increased by 14%. He has also spent time in Austin ISD, Leadership Public Schools in San Francisco, and the New York City Department of Education.
Sevak holds a B.A. in Psychology, a M.B.A. from Northwestern University, a M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management, and an Ed.D. from the Urban Superintendents program at Harvard University.
Executive Director, Human Resources:
Reporting to Charles Glover, Chief of Talent and Innovation/Human Resources will be Jamal Jenkins, Executive Director of Human Resources. Jenkins has most recently served as Manager for Evaluation & Compensation at Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida. This role entailed redesigning and implementing teacher and principal evaluations, succession management, and compensation programs. Jenkins has led and served in a variety of human resources capacities including HR Generalist and Business Partnership functions; Recruiting, Staffing, and Selection Systems; Compensation; and Performance Management. He also managed HR activities at an innovative start-up international joint venture, Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance, a collaborative manufacturing initiative between DaimlerChrysler, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi.
Jenkins earned his Bachelor’s Degree in American Legal Systems from the United States Military Academy and a MBA from the University of Michigan.
Executive Directors, School Leadership Division:
A total of 20 Executive Directors will provide leadership and support to schools through their feeder patterns. Twelve of those 20 have been selected and others are continuing to interview for the positions. The twelve individuals selected are:
Elizabeth Casas, executive director of multi-language enrichment programs, Dallas ISD. In her current role, Casas oversees all elementary and secondary instructional programs for more than 61,000 English Language Learners. Prior to this position, she served as the principal of Onésimo Hernández Elementary where she was able to elevate the campus from the TEA status of Low Performing to Recognized. Casas has a range of educational experiences including service as a principal, assistant principal, instructional specialist, and teacher. She has been the recipient of many campus Teacher of the Year awards and has been recognized for her outstanding school leadership performance.
Casas has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas and a M.Ed. in Administration from the University of North Texas.
Edward Conger, current principal, Thomas Jefferson High School. Conger, a retired Marine Infantry officer, has directed a turnaround at Thomas Jefferson since 2008 resulting in a significant increase in the graduation rate. He also has been instrumental in adding Mandarin to the curriculum. Approximately 400 students, more than one-fourth of students at the school, are now studying the language. Conger has his B.B.A. in Management from Texas A&M University and his M.S.A. in Administration from Central Michigan University.
Israel Cordero, current principal, W.W. Samuell High School. Cordero has led the turnaround at Samuell since taking the reins at the school in 2008. The graduation rate has increased every year since his appointment to the position and the school experienced double digit gains in math and science two years in a row. Next fall, the school will expand its early college offerings to provide more students the opportunity to earn both high school and college credit at the same time. Cordero has his B.A. in English from Southern Methodist University, a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from Texas Woman’s University, and is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.
Stephanie Elizalde, current director of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Elizalde has extensive experience overseeing and mentoring principals in previous positions in the San Antonio area. She was the director of secondary schools in Southwest ISD, mentored principals for the Texas High School Project and previously served as executive director for the math, science and Urban Systemic Project for San Antonio ISD. Elizalde holds a B.S. in Biology and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.
Anita Hardwick, has been principal of W. T. White High School for the past two years. Under her leadership, the school has created two academies – the Visual and Performing Arts Academy and the Academy of Engineering, and has started plans to offer a Business and Marketing Academy next school year. Also, this year the school was named one of the best high schools in the nation according to the U. S. News & World Report and the Washington Post, ranking near the top 3 percent and top 1 percent, respectively, among the nation’s 22,000 high schools. Hardwick has a B.A. in Music Education from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) and a M.A. in Music Education from the University of North Texas.
Jacqueline Lovelace, current Senior Director of New Schools, Uplift Education, Dallas. During her time with Uplift, Lovelace has served as a Secondary Principal, Senior Director/Superintendent, and currently coordinates instructional programs for four campuses that have yielded successful results. Prior to her work with Uplift, she worked in Dallas ISD as a specialist, coordinator, department chair, and teacher. She has been honored as a campus Teacher of the Year and ESL Teacher of the year among many other awards. Lovelace holds a B.A. in Journalism from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), a M.A. in English from Texas Woman’s University, and a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Brian Lusk, current principal at A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School. Lusk is the founding principal of Dallas ISD’s first New Tech campus, an innovative school concept that features project-based learning in a one student to one computer environment. Lusk previously served as principal at E.D. Walker Middle School and Walnut Hill Elementary School. While at Walker, he led a team that raised the school’s accountability rating from academically unacceptable to exemplary in three years. usk holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from the California University of Pennsylvania and a M.Ed. in Administration from Texas A&M, Commerce.
Desirée Marks-Arias, current principal at Austin Middle School, Irving Independent School District. Marks-Arias has been in her current role for 3 years where she has been involved in initiating, implementing and evaluating instructional and support programs. Prior to her work with Irving ISD, she was an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in the Cotulla Independent School District and served many other roles in Dallas and DeValle ISD, including teacher and principal. She was recently awarded the Texas Music Educators Association Distinguished Administrator Award among other accolades for her work. Marks-Arias holds a B.A. in Economics, M.Ed. in Education Administration and is pursuing her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Planning from the University of Texas at Austin.
Raúl Peña, current principal at Central Elementary School, Lewisville Independent School District. Peña has accelerated instruction and learning at Central by increasing student standardized achievement up to 20% in one year and reached a 31% increase in student performance during a 3-year period. From 2007 to the present, Central achieved a TEA rating of Recognized for the first time in 12 years. During his 11-year tenure as a bilingual school administrator, he has focused on raising the student achievement of diverse and at-risk populations. Peña holds a B.A. in Business Education from the University of Texas and a M.Ed. in School Administration from Texas Woman’s University.
Dora Sauceda, Ed.D, current Curriculum & Instruction Administrator at Brownsville Independent School District. A 22-year veteran of Brownsville ISD, Sauceda currently supervises area math and science specialists with a focus on implementing district-level programs and services. Previously, as the principal at the 2,300-student Pace High School, she successfully lowered the dropout rate, increased student achievement and achieved a TEA exemplary status. She has also served as a high school and middle school principal as well as an assistant principal, teacher, and community liaison. Sauceda holds a B.A. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas Pan American, a M. Ed. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Brownsville, and an Ed.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.
Leslie Williams, current senior executive director for the Central Secondary Learning Community. Williams, a South Oak Cliff graduate, has been in his current role for five years. He previously served as the principal of Skyline High School for three years and principal of David W. Carter High School for seven years. He was named the district’s Principal of the Year in 2007. Williams holds a B.S. in Industrial Arts and a M. Ed. in Educational Administration from Prairie View A&M University.
Jovan Wells, principal at School of Science and Engineering at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center since 2007, has led the school to be named among the highest-performing high schools in the country according to publications’ rankings for the past five years. The School of Science and Engineering ranks third in the 2012 Washington Post’s America’s Most Challenging High Schools list, third in U.S. News & World Report’s best high schools, and fourth in Newsweek’s magazine America’s Best High Schools 2012 list. Under Wells’ direction, every year the school has been ranked in the top five in these publications’ polls. Recently, the School of Science and Engineering was also named a finalist in the 2012 Intel Schools of Distinction competition. In 2011, the school was named National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education. Wells holds a B.S. in Biology from Grambling State University, a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in K-16 Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington.