Dear CALSA familia,
It has been a privilege and honor to have served you for more than six years during my journey as CALSA’s Executive Director. I have informed the Board of Directors, and now you, that it is time for me to focus on other aspects of my retired life, with my wife, grandkids, family, and to pursue other interests. This transition comes at a good time for me and for CALSA. I plan to see us through our 2019 Summer Institute and to support our next Executive Director during a transition phase.
My work as Executive Director began after retiring as a school Superintendent and serving as a public school educator and leader for over 43 years. With encouragement and support from some CALSA veteranos, I applied for the position, was selected, and began my journey to serve my CALSA familia.
I am proud of CALSA’s successes attained through and with the dedicated and talented leadership of the various members of the working Board of Directors. During my tenure, we confirmed CALSA’s federal and state non-profit status and shaped workable and now longstanding governing bylaws. We attained the high level of professional recognition we aspired to as the go-to resource for Latino/a educational issues in the state. Guided by our mission and vision, we not only espoused, but have instituted principles of educational equity in the various school districts that our members serve. Our Summer Institutes have been held in different venues to provide greater access to members throughout the state. My work with the Board included the expansion of our mentoring program to include our incoming Cohort 16 and guiding it through its second transition to a new program director, from Socorro Shields to Dr. Juan Santos. We have focused on the necessity of understanding the needs, benefits and accomplishments of our Latina leaders better through the expansion of our Latina Leadership Network. We have created the Professional Advisory Network to have discreet, professional, and experienced advisors answer our members’ questions and guide them through their professional decisions. Following the retirement of CALSA’s long-time Fundraising Advisor, Tom Davis, the Board is ushering in a new team to renew, build and maintain new partnerships to strategically promote CALSA’s mission, goals, and member programs. CALSA has maintained long-standing relations with a multitude of corporate partners and advisors who provide financial and in-kind support. With particular appreciation to Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, for its continuous support since CALSA’s inception and for the dedicated commitment and guidance of James C. Romo, Paul M. Loya and Salvador O. Holguin, Jr. Last but not least, our Board has developed a comprehensive organizational strategic plan to serve as CALSA’s guiding compass in the immediate years to come. CALSA remains positioned to further advocate for the development, training, and advancement of Latino and non-Latino educational leaders serving our children in the state.
As I reflect on our journey, our work has also been to forge a path to educational equity through leadership. It has been highly encouraging to know that CALSA built and maintained strong relationships, “brotherhoods” and “sisterhoods,” if you will, with organizations like ACSA, CAAASA, CLSBA, CABE, ALAS, the California Department of Education, and Tom Torlakson and Tony Thurmond, the former and current California Superintendents of Public Instruction. Their leaders, including, but not limited to, Wes Smith, Nicole Anderson, Dwight Bonds, Jan Gustafson-Corea, solidified these relations and helped in our promoting and communicating CALSA’s mission and purpose. Make no mistake, CALSA’s work is not complete, but we must acknowledge that it is made easier through these strategic partnerships and relations.
As CALSA prepares to move forward, I must take a moment to celebrate our past. Without the courageous members whose foresight led to establishing the Hispanic Superintendents Association, now CALSA, Dr. Fernando Elizondo, Dr. Robert Aguilar, Dr. Elisa Sanchez, and Dr. Roberto Flores, and without an inspiring scholar, Dr. Ken Magdaleno, who identified the need for focused mentoring and guidance, we could not have grown into the organization that has allowed me to guide it to our current state. I followed in the footsteps of my predecessors, Dr. Fernando Elizondo, Salvador Villaseñor, Dr. Richard Malfatti, and Dr. David Gomez, who laid the ground work and helped direct CALSA to where is today. It has been my privilege to serve the organization under the guidance and leadership of six outstanding CALSA Presidents, Jose Gonzalez, Yvette Irving, Alejandro Hogan, Dr. Cesar Morales, Martha Martinez, and Dr. Jacqueline Perez. My work could not have been accomplished without the support of April Wyatt and Melissa Rodriguez who served me as Senior Executive Assistants, and the support of ACSA’s wonderful staff, including Tracy Olmedo and Justin Concepcion, to whom I extend my heartfelt appreciation.
I cannot emphasize it enough—there is still work to be done. There are still so many Latino/a students throughout the state who are not enrolled in schools or districts where the teaching and administrative teams reflect the rich and diverse student population. Not all students have access to an equitable educational system that will prepare them for the global economy that is driven by technology and multilingualism. We must defend and not offend the often misunderstood, unrepresented or ignored needs of our students and their families.
CALSA is in a good place to have a new Executive Director build on the strong foundation our Board has set. In looking to our future, I have no doubt that our Board will select an Executive Director who is prepared to take on the remaining challenges, or as I refer to them, opportunities for success, and will lead CALSA through the next phase of the journey. If you share your corazones with him or her in support, as you have shared yours with me, they will be undoubtedly inspired to lead you and CALSA to greater successes.
In closing, serving CALSA has been a labor of love. While I may be stepping down as Executive Director, I am not leaving the CALSA familia. I look forward to attending and continuing to support CALSA, its programs, events and activities. I will be a continued resource and mentor to many of you, informally or as part of our mentoring program and as veterano in the familia. I remain an honored supporting hermano and friend.
Dr. David Verdugo
CALSA, Executive Director