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Effie Jones Humanitarian Awards to be Presented to Superintendents in Virginia and Michigan

AASA President Gladys Cruz, left, presents Effie Jones Humanitarian Award to Francisco Durán. Photo by Sandy Huffaker.

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, will recognize two recipients of the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award at the association’s national conference in San Diego.

The 2024 recipients are:

Durán and Zachery-Ross will receive their awards during the 1st General Session on Feb. 15. On the second day of the conference, the awardees will be honored at the Dr. Effie Hall Jones Memorial Equity Luncheon, an event co-hosted by the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents and the National Alliance of Black School Educators. The lunch event is sponsored by the Institute for Educational Innovation.

The Effie Jones awards are an annual recognition of education leaders who are committed to the advancement and mentorship of women and people of color and/or who address social justice issues among children and adults in schools. The 2024 honorees were selected because they exemplify the qualities modeled by the late Dr. Effie Hall Jones, a school administrator, teacher, counselor and former AASA associate executive director in the 1990s.

Durán, who assumed the Arlington County, Va., superintendency in 2020, was reappointed to a second four-year term last July. He has a diverse background in education spanning 30 years, in a variety of large urban school divisions. He is a bilingual educator who began his career as a special education assistant. Duran held administrative and leadership positions in the San Francisco Unified School District, and served as a regional superintendent in the School District of Philadelphia, chief academic and equity officer in Fairfax County, Va., and superintendent of Trenton Public Schools in New Jersey.

AASA President Gladys Cruz, left, presents Effie Jones Humanitarian Award to Alena Zachery-Ross. Photo by Sandy Huffaker.

Duran has been a lifelong champion for students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ youth and women and people of color in leadership positions. In Fairfax County as chief academic and equity officer, he helped initiate, and implement the One Fairfax policy to close opportunity, access and achievement gaps, a joint social and racial equity policy with Fairfax County government. Durán is the immediate past president of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents.

Zachery-Ross, who has served as superintendent in Ypsilanti, Mich., since 2018, is an accomplished educational leader with extensive experience in K-12 school administration and central-office management. A native of Detroit, she previously held superintendencies in Okemos Public Schools and Muskegon Heights, both in Michigan. During her tenure in Muskegon Heights, she successfully transformed the district, improving student discipline, attendance and graduation rates and reducing dropout rates.

Zachery-Ross is passionate about leadership development and group collaboration. She has extensive experience in curriculum development, multicultural education, school safety, budget and finance, professional learning communities, group facilitation, team building, grant writing, community relations and data analysis. She has completed several leadership programs, including AASA's National Superintendent's Certification Program and AASA's Howard Urban Superintendent's Academy.

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