AASA Women in School Leadership Awards

The AASA Awards for Women in School Leadership Awards, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, recognize female educators whose talent, creativity and vision are exemplary. Three awards are presented annually at the AASA National Conference on Education.

About | Application | Women in School Leadership Forum | Past Winners       

 AASA is pleased to announce a new award category this year, the School Based Award, for aspiring female leaders. This new category expands the breadth and depth of the AASA Women in School Leadership Awards Program. It allows AASA to support more women educators in developing leadership skills and advancing their careers.



The AASA Women in School Leadership Award program is designed to recognize the exceptional leadership of active, front-line female leaders who are making a difference in the lives of students every day. Three awards are available: 

The Superintendent Award – awarded to any female superintendent. 

The Central Office/Principal Award – awarded to any female central office or building level leader. Equivalent job titles may include: assistant superintendent, central office administrator, school based principal/assistant principal.

The School Based Award – awarded to any female classroom teacher or school based specialist. Equivalent job titles may include: teacher or school based counselor. Nominate Your Colleague or Apply Online at: http://womensleadership.aasa.org/

Selection Criteria

Each candidate is judged on the following criteria:

• Leadership for Learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in her school or district. 

• Communication – strength in both personal and organizational communication. 

• Professionalism – constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills, while providing motivation to others on the education team. 

• Community Involvement – active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national, and international issues.

Application and Procedure 

  • Applications must be submitted online at http://womensleadership.aasa.org/
  •  Completed applications must be received online at AASA by July 15, 2016 
  •  Finalists are announced September 28 – 29, 2016 at the AASA/ACSA Women’s Conference in Newport Beach, CA. 
  •  Winners announced March 3, 2016 at the AASA National Conference on Education on the main stage.

Selection Process 

  • A panel of distinguished leaders in education will select two finalists in each category for the AASA Women in School Leadership Awards. 
  • The decision will be based on the applications submitted online and supporting documents. 
  • The judges will virtually interview the four finalists.
  • Winners are announced at the 2017 AASA National Conference on Education, in New Orleans, LA.


  • Each award recipient will receive $1,000 and a plaque. 
  • Each award recipient will receive travel, lodging and paid expenses for the AASA National Conference on Education.


AASA Melinda logo         

Staff Contact: Bernadine Futrell, Ph.D., Director, Awards and Collaborations; Email:  bfutrell@aasa.org; Phone: 703-875-0717


2015 Winners

MaryEllen - women award 2015

MaryEllen Elia

Florida, Oregon Educators Receive Women in School Leadership Award

The two 2015 AASA Women in School Leadership Awards are MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools, and Michelle Zundel, principal of Ashland High School in the Ashland School District in Ashland, Ore.

Watch Video with MaryEllen Elia [1:16]

Michelle Zundel

Read Press Release

Read Conference Daily Online  

Panel Discussion 

Watch Video with Michelle Zundel [0:50]


 2014 Winners 


Karen Woodward, 
superintendent in Lexington County, S.C


Linda Carrillo,
principal of PSJA North High School in Pharr, Texas

ArrowRead Press Release
ArrowRead Conference Daily Online
ArrowWebsite: http://womensleadership.aasa.org/


2013 Winners


Ann Clark
Ann Blakeney Clark
Deputy Superintendent
Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., schools

Harriet MacLean
Harriet R. MacLean
James B. Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, Calif.




2012 Winners



Marilyn Shepherd
Monterey Peninsula
Unified School District

Lisa Gonzales
Coordinator of
Curriculum and Instruction
Santa Clara County
Office of Education


2011 Winner




Valerie Truesdale, Superintendent, Beaufort County Public Schools, S.C. is the first recipient of the AASA Women in School Leadership Award.



For more information, contact Bernadine Futrell - Director, Awards and Collaborations at bfutrell@aasa.org