On Monday, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda announced the appointment of two veteran educators to fill key leadership positions at Seattle Public Schools: former Denver Public Schools Chief Strategy Officer Charles E. Wright, Jr. as Deputy Superintendent and Bremerton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lester “Flip” Herndon Jr. as Assistant Superintendent, Capital, Facilities and Enrollment Planning.
Both individuals emerged during the search process as excellent fits for the needs of Seattle Public Schools, Superintendent Banda said. The appointments were made following an extensive series of interviews that included senior leadership, cabinet members and representatives of employee associations.
“I am pleased that our search process resulted in identifying two high-caliber individuals who will join our leadership team,” Banda said. “Mr. Wright and Dr. Herndon both have depth and breadth in functional leadership in K-12. Their experience and skills will be utilized in virtually every aspect of our district.”
Charles E. Wright, Jr. is a senior executive with 20 years of experience that includes working on behalf of large urban K-12 school districts as well as education foundations. For the past two and a half years, Wright has worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Initially, he was a Portfolio Manager responsible for managing a budget pipeline of more than 200 grants totaling more than $170 million. Wright also served as the lead Program Officer working with four school district pilot sites committed to aligning resources with strategic priorities.
Prior to his Foundation role, Wright served as Chief Strategy Officer for Denver Public Schools, a district with 78,000 students and 160 schools, where he managed five business units and focused on the use of metrics and data to guide decision-making.
“Mr. Wright has exceptionally strong skills with resource allocation that will help us with the very important work of aligning our budget to support the district’s new five-year strategic plan and delivering on our commitment to students,” Banda said. “He also has extensive experience with process improvement, performance management, and the use of metrics that will support our goal to create a central office that more effectively supports students and schools.”
Wright earned a Juris Doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, a Master of Arts in Elementary Education at Columbia University and a BA in Finance from Morehouse College. He is a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow, Seattle and Leadership Denver. Wright has served on the Executive Committee and Board of the Alliance for Education.
“I am excited to join the Seattle Public Schools and work with the many talented teachers, principals, staff and community members committed to ensuring educational excellence and equity for every student,” Wright said. “Together, our impact on behalf of all children can be tremendous.”
Wright will replace Robert Boesche, who has served as Interim Deputy Superintendent since 2011, and is retiring later this fall.
Dr. Lester “Flip” Herndon, Jr. has more than 20 years’ experience in K-12 education. For the past four years, he has served as Superintendent for the Bremerton School District, a system with 5,000 students and 10 school sites. His accomplishments include establishing a PreK-8 STEM school with community partnership, developing a new Montessori program, building a new alternative program for students in grades 9 and 10 and creating online school options. Herndon led the passage of two levies, including Bremerton’s first capital levy. During his tenure, Bremerton was honored for an Innovative School and multiple Washington Achievement Award winning schools.
Prior to Bremerton, Herndon served as Assistant Superintendent of K-12 Support for Tacoma Public Schools. In this role he was responsible for supervision of eight directors, 100 building administrators, 60 school sites and 28,500 students.
“Dr. Herndon’s experience and skills leading a district and success in passing a recent capital levy will be an asset to our capital programs, facilities and the work on capacity management and growth boundaries,” Banda said. “I am especially pleased to have a leader in this role who has extensive experience in school buildings as a teacher, administrator and principal. Dr. Herndon’s understanding of the school environment will support a close relationship between capital programs and teaching and learning activities.”
The role of Assistant Superintendent, Capital, Facilities and Enrollment Planning was created through an organization restructure announced last month. Terry Burgess served as Interim Assistant Superintendent of Capital, Facilities and Enrollment Planning prior to Herndon’s appointment.
One of Herndon’s top priorities will be to begin the search for a Director of Capital Programs.
“I am both humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve the Seattle community,” said Herndon, who has three children currently enrolled in Seattle Public Schools. “I look forward to addressing the many challenges associated with capacity management and enrollment planning as well as the numerous capital projects over the next several years and how they intersect and support our students and families.”