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The National Association of School Superintendents (NASS) was founded by Dr. Theresa Daem and it evolved and developed with the guidance and support of the NASS Executive Committee.

Members of the committee were selected based on their successful experience, their recognized achievements in their respective fields, and their clearly established capacities to provide the necessary expertise and advice to effectively advance the mission of the organization, including but not limited to program design and content; organizational structure and policies; funding model and budgeting; staffing and technology applications; member services and benefits;  and marketing and public relations.

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Theresa Daem, Founder

Known as a
Passionate Advocate for Superintendents
"It is one of the most vital, complex,
and demanding roles in our nation”

     In 2009 Dr. Theresa Daem founded the National Association of School Superintendents (NASS). According to Daem, “Quality teachers are the essence of quality education, but they truly flourish in great districts, and these are the result of great leadership.”

     She is a former school superintendent, most recently for the Laguna Beach Unified School District in California. She has authored numerous articles on the superintendency, presented at various workshops, been an adjunct professor at the university level, and served on numerous boards and advisory groups. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Montana State University and her doctorate from the University of Southern California. 

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Robert Slaby
Executive Director

Known for
Organizational Change
“focused on the whole child"
"champion of the children" 


     Dr. Rob Slaby was a superintendent for 30 years in four districts, rural, urban, small, and large in California and Nevada.

     By “Beginning with the End in Mind” he has been able to successfully restructure school districts to improve academic achievement, build new schools, stabilize the district’s finances and address the needs of all students.

     He earned his bachelor’s in biology from UC Berkeley, a master’s in education from Occidental College, a master’s in biology and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Southern California. He currently accredits schools in California, Nevada, and the south Pacific. 

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Jill Gildea
Executive Director Elect

Known for

Visionary Strategic Planning


and future-focused schools”

     An award-winning and published author and educator, Dr. Jill Gildea is known across the country as an inspirational leader passionate about maintaining students at the center of decisions and distinguished for implementing effective short-and long-term planning processes and for her well-confirmed expertise in communications and fiscal management.
     She is currently the Superintendent of the Park City School District in Utah, and formerly the Superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools in Greenwich, Connecticut. She holds a doctorate in curriculum and supervision from Northern Illinois University, and a bachelor of arts degree in English and secondary education from Bradley University.

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Kirk Koennecke
Executive Committee

Known for
Forward Thinking Leadership
"Equity is essential to 
shaping future generations

     A veteran educational leader with 18 years of experience in administration and 27 years of service to students, Kirk Koennecke describes himself as humble, a servant, and a teammate. He is widely appreciated for having skillfully navigated through uncertain times, maintaining a strong focus on unity and community support. His leadership philosophy centers around educational equity and the critical role of educators in shaping future generations. Koennecke is a proponent of investing in public education and addressing national gaps. His dedication to modernizing education, including embracing AI and enhancing critical thinking skills, have earned him a reputation as a forward-thinking leader.


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James Capolupo,
Executive Committee

Known for 
Belief Every Child Can Read
“every child deserves a customized 
educational program

     Dr. James Capolupo believes in the importance of quality schools and the importance of connecting “school to home.”  As a superintendent he was exceptionally proud of his district’s ongoing accomplishments in the area of literacy.  His district’s motto “We Believe Every Student Can Read" was on street banners, in school buildings, and on business cards for every employee.  
     His many achievements include the focus of two goals every year: 100% of fourth grade students reading on grade level and 100% of students going on to college.  Every school in the Springfield School District made Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) 7 years in a row.  He is especially proud of the District’s K-1 Literacy Center, which won four awards in its first two years of existence.  

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Frederick Navarro
Executive Committee

Known for 
Demanding Excellence
“recruiting and cultivating top talent in all leadership roles”

    Dr. Fred Navarro is a lifelong educator, most recently retiring as Superintendent from the Newport Mesa Unified School District. He has served public schools for nearly forty years.

     His many achievements include, but are not limited to, serving as a high school principal in the Alhambra and Newport Mesa districts, serving as a Director of Secondary Education, serving as the Assistant Superintendent of the Anaheim School District and serving as Superintendent of the Lennox School District. 
     He believes that a high-quality leadership team is vital to student success in the classroom; therefore, a quality superintendent is essential to creating a thriving district where every student is provided an exemplary and rewarding educational experience.

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Timothy Purnell
Executive Committee

Known for
Entrepreneurial Leadership 
“spearheading transformational initiatives

     Dr. Timothy J. Purnell, Executive  Director of the New Jersey School Boards Association and Co-Founder & CEO of It's Anonymous™, is an internationally recognized champion for the power of anonymous data and information.

     As superintendent of the Somerville public school district in New Jersey, Tim oversaw a $44 million budget, educational services, personnel management, and stakeholder communications for district schools. He implemented the first, district-wide, trauma-sensitive initiatives in the state of New Jersey and was one of 100 educators invited to President Obama’s 2014 ConnectED Initiative. In 2015, he was named New Jersey’s State Superintendent of the Year and, in 2016, he was recognized as a Highest Rated Professor in the Nation for his class on mental health.

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Mike Richie
Executive Committee

Known for
Focus on Continuous Improvement
“thinking outside the box

     Dr. Mike Richie is a superintendent, educational consultant/leader with more than 35 years in public education who has served small, medium and large school districts. Richie has led his staff in raising test scores, building community and business partnerships, increasing open enrollment numbers, passing five referendums and drastically improving communications, public relations and social media efforts in his districts.

     Richie is currently a consultant for Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, one of the preeminent school search firms in the nation. Richie enjoys coaching and mentoring superintendents new to the profession, and he is also an adjunct professor at Viterbo University teaching classes in leadership and school law. 

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Ronald Holmes
Executive Committee

Known for
Evidence-Based Solutions 
“promoting best practices for the good of all

     Dr. Ronald Holmes is president and publisher of The Holmes Education Post, an education focused Internet newspaper. He is the author of 24 books, publishes articles on educational issues and offers unique, evidence-based solutions, perspectives, best practices, and resources to improve public education.   

     He earned a PhD in Educational Leadership, a MED in Educational Administration and Supervision and a BS in Business Education from Florida A&M University. He also earned a MED in Business Education from Bowling Green State University. He is a former district superintendent, school administrator, college instructor, school teacher, and test developer. 

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Rob Clayton
Executive Committee

Known for
Uncompromising Dedication 
“student achievement and academic excellence

     Mr. Rob Clayton has been Superintendent of the Warren County Public Schools in Bowling Green, Kentucky since 2013.  He is widely recognized for his ardent commitment to academic excellence in his district, county, and state, and he was recognized in 2022 as the NASS Superintendent of the Year.

   Clayton credits community partnerships and consistently recognizes team as a key factor to his school system’s success and is appreciative of his school and district leadership, faculty and staff members in “providing an engaging, inspiring and challenging learning environment, which prioritizes safety, achievement and opportunity” which is the mission of the Warren County Public Schools.


We believe every child deserves a great education.


We believe a great education is the product of great teaching.


We believe great teachers flourish in great school districts.


We believe great school districts are the product of great leadership.

Our goal is to expedite our top district leaders' access to the resources they need to maximize their potential to achieve excellence.

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