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Champions for Equity to Receive Humanitarian Award at AASA's 2018 National Conference on Education

Alexandria, Va. AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is pleased to announce the honorees who will receive the annual Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award at AASA’s National Conference on Education, Feb. 15, 2018, at the Music City Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.

This award recognizes leaders who exemplify the qualities modeled by the late Effie Hall Jones, an educator and former AASA associate executive director. These distinctive attributes included her professional and personal commitment to diversifying the field of education with high quality leaders and ensuring the best education for all students. She was profiled in the film “Women at the Top” for her work with women who aspired to the superintendency. Jones was also a school administrator, teacher and counselor.

The 2018 recipients are:

  • Martha James-Hassan, school board commissioner, Baltimore City Public Schools and an assistant professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md.
  • Dennis O’Hara, superintendent, Hauppauge Public Schools, Hauppauge, N.Y.
  • Valeria S. Silva, educational consultant and former superintendent, St. Paul Schools, St. Paul, Minn.

“Dr. Effie H. Jones was a leader in every sense as she demonstrated a professional and personal drive to diversify the field of education. Dr. Jones was indeed a champion for women, minorities and children in disadvantaged situations,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “I congratulate our three honorees. Each has demonstrated the qualities that Dr. Jones would be proud of — a steadfast commitment to equity and excellence, and a will to make social justice a reality in our schools and our society.”

James-Hassan is a researcher, teacher and leader with 25 years of experience in PK-21 urban education. She is an assistant professor at Morgan State University and was appointed by then Mayor Rawlings-Blake to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. She is also a graduate of the inaugural cohort of the AASA-Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy. In 2015, she co-founded and served as leadership for the Diversity and Inclusiveness Group within the Society of Health and Physical Education of America, and is currently the Chair of the Social Justice and Diversity Task Force for the National Association of Kinesiology in Higher Education. In response to teacher feedback, she developed Cultural Fluency as a framework to engage young people, pre-professionals, and in-career individuals and groups in developmentally appropriate reflective experiences exploring identity, privilege and oppression with the intentional objective of promoting historical understandings, individual agency and institutional equity within education.

O’Hara, superintendent of Hauppauge Public Schools, has been an educator for more than 26 years. He launched an interdepartmental program, in collaboration with the counseling and athletic departments, aimed at improving the academic performance of student-athletes. As the principal of Oyster Bay High School, he created a College Awareness program igniting a college-going culture and, through creative fundraising, ensured that all students could participate in college visits. Graduation and college-going rates during this time increased among all subgroups, and the school was ranked among the top 2 percent of all high schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek magazine, and the Washington Post. 

Silva is a national and international educational consultant. In 2010, she was recognized as one of the top 100 Female Leaders of the Year by the Chilean newspaper of record, El Mercurio, in recognition of her outstanding work in the field of education. During her seven years as a superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools, racial equity was the foundation for the district’s Strong Schools, Strong Communities strategic plan. As former chair of the Council of the Great City Schools, she led the charge on the Council’s commitment to address racial equity issues. In 2017, the Council of Great City Schools created a Valeria Silva Award for Outstanding Contribution for English Language Learners Achievement.

Currently, she is serving as superintendent-in-residence for both the New York City Leadership Academy and AASA. She is also a member of AASA’s Executive Committee and a co-creator of the AASA-Puerto Rico Leadership Academy. In the summer of 2017, she was the AASA on-site coordinator for Puerto Rico, and remained to do this important work after Hurricane Maria devastated the island’s infrastructure.

The Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award and Luncheon are sponsored by McGraw Hill. The award recipients will be recognized at the AASA National Conference on Education in the first general session on Thursday, Feb. 15 and at the luncheon in Dr. Jones’ honor on Friday, Feb. 16, where the luncheon speaker will be Catherine E. Lhamon, chair, U.S. Civil Rights Commission and AASA inaugural Tom Sobol lecturer.

For information about NCE and to register for the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award luncheon, visit