With just seven months under his belt, Associate Superintendent Bruce Abbott is now the longest tenured senior staffer in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District office.
On Friday, Abbott and new human resources director Jonathan Ferrer announced the district’s final “cabinet-level” hire.
Elizabeth Kaufman, 51, has been named the district’s new associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, replacing Karen Strong who announced her resignation last month.
Kaufman was most recently interim director of special education at Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. Prior to that she spent two and a half years as superintendent of Galt Unified School District in the Sacramento area, before asking to be released from her employment contract early in order to attend to personal matters stemming from the fires in Santa Rosa.
Prior to Galt, she served as assistant superintendent of Cotati-Rohnert Park School District in Sonoma County and assistant superintendent of Tamalpais Joint Union High School District in Marin County.
The district press release describes Kaufman as sharing “a commitment to Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s values of consensus building and collaborative decision-making processes. She is a proponent of honoring teacher voice and empowering others to meet the needs of students in Sonoma Valley and is excited to return to her true passion and joy of overseeing curriculum and instruction for a district.”
When reached on Monday, Kaufman told the Index-Tribune that she was drawn to Sonoma Valley because of the community and its dedication to supporting all students.
“There is a legacy of a value of education and a willingness to do what it takes to support children and families,” she said. “I share this commitment and want to be part of helping to steward this district’s next steps for students, staff, families and the greater Sonoma Valley community.”
Kaufman has experience facilitating curriculum pilots, standards mapping, and selection of common assessments with teacher teams at the elementary level. She has also implemented secondary literacy curriculum, with a focus on English learners.
Kaufman grew up in Portland and received her B.A. from Reed College, then moved to California to get her teaching credential and a master’s degree from Dominican University in San Rafael. She received her doctorate in organizational development and leadership from U.C. San Francisco.
The mother of three, who lives in Fulton, has twin daughters who are entering high school and a son who is entering middle school.
Kaufman expects to start in Sonoma sometime next week.
Abbott is a glass half-full kind of guy and he spoke enthusiastically of the upside of a completely new team. “This is a great opportunity for us,” he said. “We are building a new team from scratch, and we are making sure from the start that everyone is coming on sharing the same collaborative, team-oriented philosophy. We have new ideas coming into the district... it’s an exciting time.”
Timeline of District “Cabinet Level” Arrivals and Departures
Leaves, June 2017 - Superintendent Louann Carlomagno
Leaves, June 2017 – Director of Curriculum & Instruction Karla Conroy
Leaves, June 2017 – Chief Business Officer John Bartolome
Arrives, June 2017 – Associate Superintendent Karen Strong
Arrives, June 2017 – Interim Superintendent Chuck Young
Arrives, January 2018 – Associate Superintendent Bruce Abbott
Leaves, March 2018 – HR Director Loyal Carlon
Arrives, July 2018 – HR Director Jonathan Ferrer
Leaves, June 2018 – Director of Student Services Nikarre Redcoff
Leaves, June 2018 – Interim Superintendent Chuck Young
Arrives, June 2018 – Superintendent Socorro Shiels
Arrives, July 2018 – Director of Student Services Vanessa Riggs
Leaves, June 2018- Associate Superintendent Karen Strong
Arrives, July 2018 – Associate Superintendent Elizabeth Kaufman