Hilda Maldonado named next leader
The Santa Barbara Unified School District board has selected Hilda Maldonado as the district’s next superintendent.
The Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Ms. Maldonado.
She was selected for her extensive background in academic achievement, strong focus on partnerships and leadership in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She is currently the associate superintendent of leaderships and partnership in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where she oversees the development of system capacity to train and retain employees and develop partnership and grant efforts across the district.
She will take the helm on July 1, said Camie Barnwell, public information officer for the Santa Barbara district.
“It is an honor to be selected to serve the Santa Barbara Unified School District students, staff and community during these extraordinary times,” Ms. Maldonado said in a news release. “I am committed to building on the greatness of this district as we collectively navigate a new education system that ensures ALL students are prepared for life, college and career. I believe a quality education is the key to success for families, communities and our country. It certainly made a difference in my life journey and I wish the same for all our students.”
Ms. Maldonado has served a number of roles during her 32 years with the LAUSD. She has worked as a bilingual teacher, a bilingual coordinator, an assistant principal and a principal at two schools – both of which experienced growth in academics, safety and school culture under her leadership.
Ms. Maldonado came to the U.S. from Mexico as an 11-year-old and credits her positive experience as an English learner as her motivation to become a bilingual teacher. As a public school graduate, she strongly believes in equity and inclusion for all students.
Under her leadership LAUSD expanded dual language programs, increased Seal of Biliteracy student awards, and improved results for English Learners. She has supervised school principals, developed policies and programs and led Multilingual and Multicultural Education. She has also taught summer institutes at UCLA’s California Reading and Literature Project focused on literacy and language.
During the global pandemic school shutdown, Ms. Maldonado was instrumental in leading the teams responsible for implementing “Grab n Go” meal distribution and the transition to a cloud-based call center to ensure rapid responses to families and employees.
Ms. Maldonado has been awarded the Stanton Fellowship Award by the Durfee Foundation and is currently completing a doctorate degree at Loyola Marymount University in Social Justice Leadership. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CSLA. She has also studied at Harvard Business School.
Ms. Maldonado’s interest in education spans beyond the U.S. as she has been selected to travel to South Korea, Spain and Belgium to share and learn about opportunities and challenges for school systems.
“This pandemic is ushering in a new era of education while shining a spotlight on the inequities of the old education system. We need a tested leader who has the expertise to harness new opportunities, engage the community and propel our schools forward for the future. Hilda Maldonado is the leader for this transformational time,” said Laura Capps, president of the board, who with her colleagues led the competitive search that involved nearly 50 candidates from across the country.
Dr. Jackie Reid, vice president of the board, said she sees Ms. Maldonado as a “beacon for moving the district forward,” as she takes over for current Superintendent Cary Matsuoka.
“I know she will provide equitable access to all students to ensure academic success and career readiness. I am proud of the process and rigor we participated in as a board to find our new leadership for this district,” Dr. Reid said.
Board member and past President Wendy Sims-Moten said Ms. Maldonado’s appointment “gets a triple ‘R’ rating: Right Person, Right Place, Right Time.”
Ms. Maldonado and her husband, Kamran, will soon relocate to Santa Barbara. They have two sons who are in college.
In the coming days, the community will have a chance to get more acquainted with Ms. Maldonado, who plans to make herself available for a Q&A with students.