Kelly Gonez Elected as Los Angeles Unified Board President

Nick Melvoin elected Chair of the Committee of the Whole

Board President Gonez is the youngest woman ever to lead the School Board

December 15, 2020 – Kelly Gonez was unanimously elected Board President of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s largest school district with an elected school board. Her election at age 32 makes her the youngest female Board President in Los Angeles Unified history and the first Millennial to lead the Board. She is also one of only four women of color and one of three Latinas to lead the Board in its history, despite serving a student population that is 80% Latino or African-American.

Board President Gonez is the only parent on the School Board with young children, and she grew up in an immigrant family in the district she now represents, encompassing much of the East San Fernando Valley. She has served on the Board since 2017. Prior to her election, she was a middle school science teacher and an education policy advisor in the U.S. Department of Education, appointed by President Barack Obama.

“I want to thank my colleagues for this honor, and I look forward to working with each of them and Superintendent Austin Beutner and his team on behalf of the students of Los Angeles,” said Board President Gonez. “The pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for our families and for our district. It’s more important than ever that our Board is united behind an urgent focus to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students.”

Board Member Gonez laid out a vision for her time as Board President that includes:

  • Student learning at the center
  • Addressing the opportunity gaps exacerbated by COVID-19
  • A focus on equity and antiracism
  • Fostering good governance

Board Member Nick Melvoin was elected Chair of the Committee of the Whole. “Today is an exciting day to close the book on 2020 and look to the future in L.A. Unified – as we welcome our newest colleague, Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin, and elect Board Member Gonez to serve as our next President,” said Board Member Melvoin. “I look forward to serving as Chair of the Committee of the Whole and supporting our school communities through this crisis to get our kids safely back in the classroom as soon as possible – starting with our highest needs students. This Board is committed to putting kids first, and I hope that in 2021 we will see leaders from City Hall to Sacramento and Washington, D.C. follow that lead.”

“Congratulations to Board President Gonez,” said Superintendent Austin Beutner. “Schools are facing unprecedented challenges during these trying times, and I look forward to working with her and all of the Board Members to provide the best possible education to students.”

“I wish Board Member Gonez well in her term as Board President, as she leads during this challenging time,” said Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III.

“Congratulations to all incumbents, and our new board member, Tanya Ortiz Franklin,” said Board Member Mónica García. “I stand in solidarity with the youngest female Board President, Kelly Gonez, and her call for the board to work together to advance equity and anti-racism at Los Angeles Unified.”

“Congratulations to Board President Gonez,” said Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson. “I look forward to working with her, learning from her leadership, and continuing to collaborate with all my colleagues to provide the best possible education for all our students during these difficult times. We must be strong and united as we transition to a safe and healthier future for our children and communities.”

“Congratulations to Board Member Kelly Gonez on her unanimous election to be president of the Los Angeles Unified school board,” said Board Member Jackie Goldberg. “I have been impressed with Ms. Gonez’s thoughtful consideration of issues affecting our students and our district. I look forward to working with her.”

“As the new representative on the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education, I look forward to working alongside the diverse communities of District 7 to prioritize our highest-need students,” said Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin. “I am also equally excited to serve alongside our new Board President Kelly Gonez, who I strongly believe will prioritize the holistic needs of students, not only through the eyes of our Board President but also as a parent, a former teacher, and a deeply committed champion for educational equity and anti-racism.”

Board Member Ortiz Franklin was sworn in by Caleb Ebo, a student at President Avenue Elementary School, which the educator and lawyer attended when she was in the sixth grade. She succeeds Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic who retired after serving 13 years representing the South Bay on the Board.

“Effective leadership in our school systems is more important than ever during these extraordinarily challenging times. We are fortunate to have that leadership in the form of numerous individuals on our school boards that are committed to student success,” said State Superintendent Tony Thurmond. “Today, I was deeply honored to be a part of administering the oath of office to three of those individuals, Dr. George McKenna, Ms. Jackie Goldberg and Mr. Scott Schmerelson, at the second largest school district in our nation. Their decisions will affect the lives of countless students and educators, and they have my full support as we move into the next calendar year and plan to safely return our students to the classroom.”

Kelly Gonez has proudly represented Board District 6, which encompasses most of the East San Fernando Valley, since her election in 2017. During that time, she has championed the needs of the most historically underserved students as a Board member. She has authored policies leading to increased services for students experiencing homelessness and removing barriers to college for our high-needs students. Board President Gonez has helped to increase investment in early childhood education in Los Angeles Unified and pioneered the expansion of ethnic studies for all students in the District, including as a high school graduation requirement. She proudly authored the first-ever Board action creating an unassigned day to acknowledge the tragic Armenian Genocide. She has been an ardent voice for increasing investment in public education, devoting countless hours to advocating for our State and Federal governments to provide more funding and resources to our public schools.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Board President Gonez grew up in an immigrant family and was the first in her family to attend college; while earning her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, she worked three jobs, over 50 hours a week, to pay her way through college and support her working family. After she graduated college, she returned home to be a middle school science teacher in Lake View Terrace and South Los Angeles.

She also previously served as an education policy advisor in President Obama’s Administration, where she led initiatives to support English learners, homeless students, immigrant students, and foster youth, among others. She lives with her husband Manny and two young children in North Hollywood.

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