Meeting the New Superintendents

Meeting the New Superintendents

On Wednesday, September 13, our donors, professional advisors, and partners gathered for a conversation with Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell and Dr. Vincent Matthews, new superintendents from Oakland and San Francisco Unified School Districts, respectively. Both are heading up the two biggest school districts in the Bay Area and addressing existing and recent challenges, such as the President’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program.

As an Oakland native with over 18 years of service as a teacher, principal and network director, Dr. Johnson-Trammell spoke about how she is taking her time observing and listening to the needs of the school district. She emphasized that we should all ask what “our responsibility as a school is, given this time” and outlined her three priorities for the district: the fiscal vitality and health of the organization, the quality of the school district, and the organization’s resilience.

With over 32 years in public education, Dr. Matthews highlighted that he is currently in the process of the 90-day listening and learning exercise to understand the needs of his community, schools, and children. He emphasized that for children to “not only survive, but thrive in the 21st century,” there should be the “Five C’s” or support: having opportunities to collaborate, building communication skills, encouraging creativity, being able to think critically, and being a global citizen.

The session reminded us that education is the premise of every society and every family, and that everyone has a personal stake in it. Our kids are coming to school with more needs than ever today, said the Superintendents, but they are not given the resources they need. Race and class, they reminded us, are impacting the kinds of resources that students of color can access.

We are grateful to the Superintendents, our donors, and professional advisors for taking the time to engage with us, share your questions, and join the discussion on the future of the biggest school districts in the Bay Area. We have compiled a list of giving recommendations if you wish to support organizations working to provide education opportunities in our communities.

If you are interested to learn more about this session or upcoming Donor Peer Leaning Sessions, please contact