Please Wait a Moment

Press Release
Sarah Loughlin, Communications Manager
National School Public Relations Association
301-519-1221 I



ROCKVILLE, MD. (Dec. 14, 2023) – The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) announced today recipients of its 2023 Superintendents to Watch recognition award. This year, 25 superintendents nationwide were selected for the honor in recognition of their innovative and effective use of technology to engage and inform the school community, and to expand two-way communication and outreach efforts. 

“This year’s honorees understand the critical role that effective, two-way communication plays in building trust with students, families, employees and community members,” said NSPRA Executive Director Barbara M. Hunter, APR. “Each of these leaders have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to championing innovative communication strategies to advance their district’s success.”

NSPRA had a record number of nominations this year—more than 70—and many exceptional candidates, making the selection process very competitive. Since the 2015-16 school year, NSPRA has recognized 152 school district leaders as Superintendents to Watch. Honorees must have fewer than five years of experience as a superintendent and must demonstrate dynamic, fast-paced leadership with strong communication at its core.

NSPRA will recognize each award recipient with a profile piece in upcoming issues of its monthly Member Memo e-newsletter to association members as well as on its website and social media channels. Honorees will also be recognized at the NSPRA 2024 National Seminar in Seattle/Bellevue in July.

Congratulations to this year’s superintendent honorees who hail from Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia:

Fal Asrani, Ed.D.
Marysville Joint Unified
School District
Marysville, Calif.

From Dr. Asrani's nomination:
"Dr. Asrani continually prioritizes excellence
and leadership through her strategic actions,
which elevate and empower student voices,
connects with families, fosters an inclusive
environment, engages the community with
our schools and encourages collaborations."

Philip Brown, Ph.D.
Jackson County 
School System
Jefferson, Ga.

From Dr. Brown's nomination:
"With an emphasis on transparent
communication within the Jackson
County School System, Dr. Brown
continuously welcomes ideas to
become more open and engaging."

Jessica Dain, Ed.D.
Piper Unified
School District 203 
 Kansas City, Kan.

From Dr. Dain's nomination: 
"She is a proponent of transparent
communication, highlighted through her
rollout of the District Strategic Dashboard.
She has a keen ability to not only connect
with external stakeholders but with
internal stakeholders as well."

Monique Darrisaw-Akil, Ed.D.
Uniondale Union Free School District
Uniondale, N.Y.

 From Dr. Darrisaw-Akil's nomination:
"Dr. Darrisaw-Akil has been a tireless
advocate for transparent and
effective communication within the
Uniondale School District. Her innovative
approach to communication encompasses
both new and traditional channels,
fostering a vibrant and connected community."

Trey Duke III, Ed.D.
Murfreesboro City Schools
Murfreesboro, Tenn.

From Dr. Duke's nomination:
"The best communicators are clear, consistent
and courageous, and no one does this
better than Dr. Duke."

Mary Gorr, Ed.D.
Mount Prospect School District 57

Mount Prospect, Ill.
From Dr. Gorr's nomination: 
"Dr. Gorr takes a holistic approach when
addressing change, including key stakeholders
in crucial conversations and
maintaining a fair, open-minded attitude
to all input."    



Raquel Greer, Ed.D.
Maize Unified School
District 266
Maize, Kan.
From Dr. Greer's nomination:
"Dr. Greer's leadership has led to significant
improvements in transparency, community
engagement and trust-building."

Trenton Hansen, Ph.D.
Jurupa Unified
School District
Jurupa Valley, Calif.
From Dr. Hansen 's nomination:
"Dr. Hansen is a visionary who shares lofty goals
for our district and encourages his team to take
risks and to think differently so that we can better
serve our community." 

Melanie Kay-Wyatt, Ed.D.
Alexandria City

Public Schools
Alexandria, Va.

From Dr. Kay-Wyatt's nomination:
"Dr. Kay-Wyatt demonstrates a commitment to
transparency, responsiveness and a
genuine interest in meeting the needs of
our constituents."

Marcus Lewton, Ed.D.
Dickinson Public Schools
Dickinson, N.D.

From Dr. Lewton's nomination:
"Dr. Lewton's exceptional efforts in
establishing authentic communication and
engagement within the school community
align seamlessly with the objectives
outlined in the district's strategic plan."

Bradford Lusk, Ph.D.
Hamilton Community Schools
Hamilton, Mich.

From Dr. Lusk's nomination:
"Dr. Lusk has shown refreshing
transparency to parents and stakeholders
to make sure we’re informed and
understand the process of decision making."

Jay Mann
Creighton School District 
Phoenix, Ariz.

From Superintendent  Mann's nomination:
"Superintendent Mann prioritizes conversations
across the district.  He taps experts in times of need
 and turns to trusted advisors to tackle big
decisions and programs."

Jeff Mayo
Arlington Community Schools

Arlington, Tenn.
From Superintendent Mayo's nomination:
"Superintendent Mayo has a dynamic, fast
paced leadership style, and 
keeps communication as the key to operating
such a successful school district."

Eric Melbye, Ed.D.  
Bloomington Public Schools
Bloomington, Minn.

From Dr. Mebye's nomination:
"Effective communication with all stakeholders
is a bedrock priority for Dr. Melbye."

Rachel Monárrez, Ph.D.
Worcester Public Schools
Worcester, Mass.

From Dr. Monárrez's nomination:
"Dr. Monárrez places communications and
engagement at the core of her work in a school
district that did not even have a
communications office prior to her arrival."

Whitney Oakley, Ed.D.

County Schools
Greensboro, N.C.

From Dr. Oakley's nomination:
"Dr. Oakley focuses her energy on
bringing people together, unifying our efforts and  
strengthening support from the community."

Herbert O'Neil
Hempstead Independent
School District
Hempstead, Texas
From Superintendent O'Neil's nomination:
"Superintendent  O'Neil plays a pivotal role in
ensuring that the school district clearly and
consistently communicates
with both internal and external stakeholders."

Sheila Quinn, Ed.D.
School District
Clover, S.C. 
From Dr. Quinn's nomination:
"Dr. Quinn plays a vital leadership role in connecting so
many people from different backgrounds,
beliefs, and opinions, and she does so with love,
kindness and authenticity."

Lori Rapp, Ed.D.
Lewisville Independent

School District
Lewisville, Texas

From Dr. Rapp's nomination:
"Dr. Rapp's style of communication can
be described in one word: Authentic."
Frank Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Beaufort County

School District
Beaufort, S.C.

From Dr. Rodriguez's nomination:
"Dr. Rodriguez's efforts in outreach to
our multilingual families are especially
commendable. He has bridged cultural
divides, making education more accessible
to diverse communities and fostering a sense of
belonging among students and their families."

Nate Rudolph, Ed.D.

Cambridge, Minn. 

From Dr. Rudolph's nomination:
"Dr. Rudolph is a natural storyteller whose stories
are always centered on our children. He
consistently reminds us of our 'why' and the
privilege we have to transform the lives of
our students."

Kirk Shrum
Visalia Unified School District 
Visalia, Calif.
From Superintendent  Shrum's nomination:
"Superintendent Shrum has quickly become a
catalyst for transformative change.
His focus on communication and
community engagement are
nothing short of remarkable."

Kelly Tess, Ed.D.
The Winnetka Public Schools
Winnetka, Ill.

From Dr. Tess' nomination:
"Dr. Tess values the importance of communication,
ensuring that communication is enveloped
in the district's strategic plan and goals each year." 

Maria Vazquez, Ed.D.
Orange County Public Schools
Orlando, Fla.

From Dr. Vazquez's nomination:
"Over her years in education, Dr. Vazquez's
hallmark has been to create open cultures that
increase trust and connection for parents,
students and employees." 

Iranetta Rayborn Wright
Cincinnati Public Schools
Cincinnati, Ohio

From Superintendent Rayborn Wright's nomination:
"Superintendent Rayborn Wright is committed to constant
communication with all constituents, through community
town halls, principal roundtables, a Student Leadership Council and more."

Visit to learn more about this award.


As the leader in school communication, NSPRA serves more than 2,800 members who work primarily as communication directors in public school districts and education organizations throughout the United States and Canada. NSPRA provides high quality professional development programming through on-demand learning, an annual National Seminar, webinars, online forums and resources. For more information, visit NSPRA’s website at

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