Champions for Equity to Receive AASA Humanitarian Award


James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)

Honorees to be recognized at AASAs 2021 National Conference on Education

Alexandria, Va. – December 4, 2020 –AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is pleased to announce the recipients of the organization’s 2021 Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award, an annual recognition of education leaders committed to the advancement and mentorship of women and minorities, and/or addressing social justice issues among children and adults in schools.

Individuals selected for this award exemplify the qualities modeled by the late Dr. Effie Hall Jones, a school administrator, teacher, counselor and former AASA associate executive director. These distinctive attributes include a professional and personal commitment to diversifying the field of education and ensuring the best education for all students.

The honorees will be recognized at AASA’s (virtual) 2021 National Conference on Education in February. They are:

  • Lillie Cox, executive director, North Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (NCASCD), Charlotte, N.C.; executive director, Piedmont Triad Education Consortium (PTEC)
  • Baron Davis, superintendent, Richland School District Two, Columbia, S.C.
  • Lillian Torrez, superintendent, Taos Municipal School District, Taos, N.M.

“Dr. Effie H. Jones worked tirelessly as a transformer and a change agent in her efforts to foster equity, opportunity and inclusion for all students, regardless of race, creed or color,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “She would have been proud of these outstanding educators who are promoting cultural responsiveness, inclusion and equity for all learners.”

Throughout Cox’s more than 25 years in public education, she has taken bold, courageous action in employing the first women and minorities in key administrative positions in districts. She currently serves as executive director of NCASCD and PTEC, one of eight regional service agencies in the state. In 2017, she established Women in Education LEADership (WE LEAD) to encourage and advocate for more women in educational leadership positions. She previously held superintendent positions at Alamance-Burlington (N.C.) Schools and Hickory (N.C.) Public Schools. In 2013, under her leadership, Alamance-Burlington was the only school system in the nation to receive two first-place National School Board Association’s Magna Awards for successful initiatives that helped the most vulnerable students succeed. In 2014, Cox was one of two national superintendent finalists for AASA’s Women in School Leadership Awards.

An educator for more than 20 years, Davis is the first African-American superintendent of Richland Two. Recently named superintendent-in-residence for the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies at the University of South Carolina, Davis is helping to shape future educators. As superintendent, he launched the Premier 100 initiative, designed to prioritize the hiring of male teachers of color. In keeping with his goal for a more equitable district, he approved a diverse five-person team of district staff to participate in AASA’s Equity in Action Cohort. Davis is a founding member of the AVID Center Superintendent’s Collaborative. He was recognized as the 2017 Administrator of the Year for Richland County and the National Association of Educational Office Professionals, and he recently received the Hyman Rubin Sr. Distinguished Service Award for his work addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Torrez has chosen to work in high-poverty and at-risk K-12 schools throughout New Mexico for more than 40 years. Over the years, she has successfully recruited and mentored people of color to advance from educational assistants to become teachers, teachers to become principals and administrators to become superintendents. At Taos Schools, she has networked with 30 nonprofit organizations that are partnering with high-need families to provide broad support including counseling, after-school tutoring, and vision and health care. Torrez served as president of the New Mexico School Superintendents’ Association in 2019 and on the New Mexico Council of Educational Leaders Executive Board. She was elected to the AASA Governing Board and assisted with New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s education transition team. She currently serves on the AASA Executive Committee. A member of the inaugural cohort of AASA’s National Superintendent Certification Program®, Torrez was named the Administrator of the Year by the New Mexico National Board Certified Teacher Network in 2014.

For questions about the award, contact Stephanie St. John at, or visit the AASA website.


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit