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Champions for Equity to Receive Humanitarian Award at AASA’s 2019 National Conference on Education

Alexandria, Va. – AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is pleased to announce the honorees who will receive the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award at AASA’s National Conference on Education, during the first general session, Feb. 14, 2019, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, Calif.   

This award recognizes leaders who exemplify the qualities modeled by the late Effie Hall Jones, a school administrator, teacher, counselor 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. 

The 2019 recipients are:  

  • Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent, Oakland Schools, Waterford, Mich.  
  • Traci Davis, superintendent, Washoe County School District, Reno, Nev.
  • Karl V. Hertz, retired superintendent, Mequon-Thiensville School District, Mequon, Wis.; AASA president, 1997-98 

“I am honored to congratulate these three outstanding individuals who are steadfastly committed to equity for all students and social justice for all children, as well as the advancement of women into positions of educational leadership,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “Dr. Effie H. Jones, a change agent who worked tirelessly to diversify the field of education, would have been proud of the way our honorees carry the torch of equity.”      

As an African-American woman in an educational leadership position, Cook-Robinson recognized early on that she had a responsibility to promote, develop and support women and educators of color around her. She has led Oakland County Schools as superintendent since 2015. In this role, she supports the academic achievement of the 207,000 students in Oakland County’s 28 public school districts, public school academies and non-public schools. Furthermore, through her membership in organizations such as the Michigan Education Justice Coalition and the Oakland County Employment Diversity Council, she is an outspoken advocate on equity issues for women and educators of color. In 1992, she co-founded, and continues to serve on the board of, the Minority Women’s Network, which supports women and educators of color across the country to return to school and provides guidance through the doctoral degree process.        

Davis’ educational leadership has resulted in dramatic increases in academic proficiency rates for special education students and students of color, both while principal of Clark County from 2004 to 2011, and now as superintendent of Washoe County School District. She was appointed to her current role as superintendent in 2014 after serving as deputy superintendent there for two years. Davis strengthened the equity and diversity department in 2013, increased supports for re-engagement and expanded the department of family-school partnerships. She established an equity task force, which now has 15 members who provide input in the development, implementation and monitoring of board policies and programs that directly impact diverse groups in the district. These changes have resulted in improved services, access and outcomes for students and families. Her advocacy on behalf of all Nevada children provided powerful support for historic statewide education legislation passed during the state legislative sessions of 2015 and 2017. The 2015 legislation included increased resources for students with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELL) and at-risk students, required data collection by race and ethnicity, and permitted superintendents to deviate from discipline policy so they could create alternatives to out-of-school suspension. The 2017 legislation included the elimination of private school vouchers and provided additional funding for low income, ELL and at-risk students, and to attract teachers to Title 1 and underperforming schools. 

As an educational and civic leader, Hertz has been a staunch advocate for social justice and equity his entire career. He is a champion of women in the superintendency, providing sage advice during the hard times and through the pitfalls of school leadership. Among those he has mentored are three female superintendents who led or will lead AASA as president of the association. For 12 years, he was superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District where he led the establishment of the Chapter 220, which provided a pathway for urban students to attend schools in the suburbs and for suburban students to attend schools in Milwaukee. As a result, many urban and underserved students, as well as suburban students, had expanded opportunities to broaden their knowledge and experience. From 1997 to 1998, Hertz led AASA as president, where he thoughtfully and deliberately laid out a roadmap for addressing the challenges and created a school system that served and embraced the needs of all students. 

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