Keynote Speaker – Carlos A. Garcia
With a career in education that spans over thirty-seven years, Carlos A. Garcia has built a strong track record for boosting student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap through his work as a teacher, principal, central office administrator and leader in classroom instruction.
Mr. Garcia served as a Superintendent of Schools for sixteen years in four distinctive school districts. He first served in Sanger Unified School District (CA), which was a rural district with one high school. He then served as Superintendent in three major urban school districts; Fresno Unified School District, CA (with one of the highest poverty rates in the country), Clark County School District, Las Vegas, Nevada (which at the time was the fifth largest and fastest growing school district in the nation and where he averaged opening a new school every month), and San Francisco Unified School District where he ended his professional educational career in July of 2012.
His experience in running such diverse and complex systems makes him uniquely qualified as a transformational national leader in not only closing the achievement gap, but also as a torchbearer for equity and social justice for all students and their communities. Mr. Garcia views the Achievement Gap as America’s Apartheid and a total violation of children’s civil rights.
Mr. Garcia is a proud K-12 graduate of the Los Angeles Unified School District and received his B.A. from Claremont Men’s College with a major in political science in 1974 and a M.A. in education from Claremont Graduate School in 1976. In 1979 he completed requirements for his administrative credentials at California State University at Fullerton and in 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Claremont Graduate University for his lifelong contribution to education. In addition, he is the recipient of the 2005 Nevada Superintendent of the Year Award and the 2010 Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Garcia is proud to be a founding member of CALSA (California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators) and ALAS (Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents). He is truly a student advocate and a highly sought after motivational speaker.
Mr. Garcia and his wife, Gail have two children and have been married for 34 years.
Darline P. Robles, Ph.D.
Dr. Darline P. Robles is currently a Professor of Clinical Education at the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. Her primary responsibility is the development of a new national hybrid Master’s degree program in school leadership.
Dr. Robles recently retired after serving eight years as the first Latina County superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), the nation’s largest regional service agency. LACOE serves more than two million preschool and school-age children, of whom 60% are Latino. As chief of the Salt Lake City School District from 1995-2002, she was recognized for raising student achievement. She was district coordinator for bilingual education at the Montebello Unified School District, and then as superintendent, she saved the district from a state take-over. Her career has focused on serving the underserved students and inspiring and mentoring young Latino educators. In 2009, and again in 2011, Dr. Robles was named a Top 100 Influential Hispanic American, and 2010 the L.A. County Commission for Women named her a Woman of the Year”. Dr. Robles is committed to public service and serves on many local and national boards. She was recently named to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Dr. Robles holds a B.A. from California State University at Los Angeles, an M.A. from Claremont Graduate School and a Ph.D from the University of Southern California.
Carmella S. Franco, Ed.D.
Dr. Carmella S. Franco most recently completed her tenure as Interim Superintendent for the Compton Unified School District while the search for a permanent Superintendent was completed. The Compton Board of Trustees selected Dr. Franco to provide stability of leadership and fiscal advisement. Prior to that assignment, she was appointed by the State Board of Education to serve as the State Trustee for the Alisal Union School District. Her mantra has been “I will do anything I can to see that students receive the quality education they deserve.” At the same time, she has supported employees to join her in seeing that that indeed occurs.
Dr. Franco taught and began her administrative career in the Rowland Unified School District; served as a Principal in Grades K through 8 in Bassett Unified School District; and headed the Personnel Department in the Lennox School District. Dr. Franco was selected as Superintendent of the Whittier School District in 1996, serving 12 years at the helm of that district before retiring in 2008. Retirement was short-lived, however, as she began an Interim Superintendent position in the Woodland Joint Unified School District located outside of Sacramento, the very next day. That assignment lasted nearly one year, through June 2009.
Dr. Franco sits on the Boards of Director of the YMCA of Greater Whittier and the Whittier Rotary Club. Her prior Rotary experience included serving as President of the LAX International Airport Rotary Club. At the state level, Dr. Franco currently serves as one of the Directors of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Superintendents Academy. She has served as President of a number of organizations, including California City School Superintendents and the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators.
Dr. Franco is an alumna of California State University at Los Angeles, where she graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Music, and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education; and also earned two credentials. Her Doctorate in non-traditional negotiation methods was received from the University of La Verne where she has lectured for the doctoral program and for the educational administration department.
Maria G. Ott, Ph.D.Maria G. Ott, Ph.D. started a new phase in her distinguished educational career when she joined the USC Rossier School of Education in October 2012. Dr. Ott served more than seven years as Superintendent of the Rowland Unified School District, leading the district through major instructional improvement initiatives and modernization of facilities. Prior to joining Rowland Unified, Dr. Ott served five years as the Senior Deputy Superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), second in authority to Superintendent Roy Romer, former Governor of Colorado.
At USC, Maria G. Ott, Ph.D. serves as Executive in Residence, teaching graduate level courses and participating in Rossier School of Education initiatives. In her role at USC, Dr. Ott will draw upon her extensive experience as an educator in urban and suburban districts, including her work on cultural proficiency as detailed in her recently released book, A Culturally Proficient Society Begins in School: Leadership for Equity, with co-authors Carmella S. Franco and Darline P. Robles. Dr. Ott has presented to national audiences on the topic of her book and continues to contribute to the educational literature about the importance of cultural proficiency in closing achievement gaps.
Dr. Ott represents the Rossier School of Education as a member of the Greater Crenshaw Education Partnership Board (GCEP), serving as Vice-Chairperson. The GCEP partnership brings together USC, the Los Angeles Urban League, and the Bradley Foundation to address reform efforts designed to improve student academic achievement. As an experienced Superintendent, Dr. Ott brings extensive experience to her Board responsibilities.
Maria G. Ott earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Mount St. Mary’s College and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California, majoring in Educational Policy, Planning and Administration. Prior to her appointment as Superintendent of Little Lake, Maria Ott worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District as a teacher, principal, and central office administrator in the Office of Instruction. Her accomplishments included improving student achievement as a principal, and national recognition for her leadership in improving educational outcomes and programs for English language learners.