People Watch

School Administrator, October 2018

Desmond K. Blackburn
After spending his entire career in Florida, Desmond Blackburn has headed west to lead the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz, Calif., as CEO. Blackburn had served in Brevard County, Fla., as superintendent for the past three years. Previously, he worked as chief school performance and accountability officer, area superintendent, area director of school improvement, principal and math teacher over 20 years with Broward County Schools in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Blackburn earned a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University. He joined AASA in 2015.


Barbara J. Duffrin
The new superintendent of the 3,300-student Mahtomedi, Minn., Public Schools is Barb Duffrin, who spent the past 15 years with Independent School District 193 in Farmington, Minn. Most recently, she served since 2012 as executive director of educational services. Duffrin also spent time in Farmington as acting superintendent, middle school assistant principal and principal. She began her career teaching middle school math in Roseville, Minn. Duffrin has been a member of AASA for six years.

James F. Lane
The Virginia Department of Education has a new state superintendent of public instruction in James Lane. An AASA member since 2009, he worked more than seven years as superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools, Goochland County Public Schools and Middlesex County Public Schools, all in Virginia. In 2017, he was Virginia Superintendent of the Year. Lane also filled assistant superintendent, principal and assistant principal posts throughout the state, as well as in Durham, N.C. He earned his doctorate in administration and supervision from the University of Virginia in 2009.


Susan Rieke-Smith
Sue Rieke-Smith bade goodbye to Springfield, Ore., Public Schools, where she was an assistant superintendent and superintendent for four years. She has assumed the superintendency of the Tigard-Tualatin School District in Tigard, Ore. Earlier in her career, Rieke-Smith served as director of instructional services for Salem-Keizer School District in Salem, Ore. She earned her Ed.D. in education policy and leadership from the University of Oregon and joined AASA in 2015. 


Ann Linson knows the value of hitting the trail. The superintendent of the East Noble School Corporation in Kendallville, Ind., used to run for exercise, but a back injury in 2014 forced her to find an alternative — which happened to be her spouse’s hobby of bicycle trail riding. “It’s just a time for me to relax, shut it all off and have a conversation with my husband non-school related,” says Linson, a seven-year AASA member. During each spring break, the duo rides the 47-mile Withlacoochee State Trail in central Florida. They’ve pedaled a wineries tour in Ohio, and then there’s the Tour de Donut in Troy, Ohio, where riders consume doughnuts at each rest stop. Linson says riding 100 miles in one day remains on her bucket list, hopefully “someplace flat,” she admits.

Dan Brenner, from superintendent, Darien, Conn., to executive director, United Nations International School, New York City, N.Y.
Marvin Connelly Jr., from chief of staff, Wake County, N.C., to superintendent, Cumberland County Schools, Fayetteville, N.C.
Jared Cotton, from superintendent, Henry County Public Schools, Collinsville, Va., to superintendent, Chesapeake, Va.
Anna Cutaia, from superintendent, Regional School District 14, Woodbury, Conn., to superintendent, Milford, Conn.
Ethan Ebenstein, from superintendent, Comstock Park, Mich., to superintendent, Ionia, Mich.
Randall Gilson, from superintendent, South Central Nebraska USD 5, Fairfield, Neb., to superintendent, Blair, Neb.
Karen Fischer Gray, from superintendent, Parkrose School District, Portland, Ore., to superintendent, Lincoln County School District, Newport, Ore.
Kurtis Kotes, from assistant superintendent, Goshen, N.Y., to superintendent, Mount Pleasant Central School District, Thornwood, N.Y.
Jarod Mendenhall, from superintendent, Mesquite, Texas, to superintendent, Muskogee, Okla.
Richard O’Malley, from superintendent, Edison, N.J., to superintendent, Florence, S.C.
George Parker III, from superintendent, Caroline County Public Schools, Bowling Green, Va., to superintendent, Newport News, Va.
Peter Sanchioni, from superintendent, Natick, Mass., to superintendent, Tiverton, R.I.
Shannon Shine, from superintendent, Galway, N.Y., to superintendent, Mohonasen Central School District, Schenectady, N.Y.
Elizabeth Feser, superintendent, Milford, Conn.
Susan Guiney, superintendent, Mount Pleasant Central School District, Thornwood, N.Y.
John Jackson, superintendent, Floyd County Schools, Rome, Ga.
Catherine C. Latham, superintendent, Lynn, Mass.
Rex Pfeil, superintendent, Blair, Neb.
James Roberts, superintendent, Chesapeake, Va.
Robin W. Spears, superintendent, Sheldon, Iowa
Patrick J. Sweeney, superintendent, Napa, Calif.
Tamra Taylor, superintendent, Live Oak School District, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Steve Webb, superintendent, Vancouver, Wash., received 2018 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award from National School Public Relations Association

News about AASA members’ promotions, retirements, honors and deaths should be addressed to: Editor, School Administrator, 1615 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Fax: 703-841-1543. E-mail: