Don Brann of Inglewood Unified School District Named Superintendent of the Year

The GSEP Superintendent Advisory Council has named Don Brann, EdD, Inglewood Unified School District state trustee, as the 2014 GSEP Superintendent of the Year. Brann was celebrated by a distinguished group of educational leaders including Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, at a dinner reception on January 30 in Monterey, California.

“I am deeply appreciative and honored to have been selected by PepperdineUniversity to receive the Superintendent of the Year recognition,” said Brann.

Brann’s career in education spans more than four decades. Appointed to the first of four superintendencies at age 34, he has led public school districts in Lancaster, Petaluma, and Placerville before returning to his alma mater, Wiseburn, for 15 years.

His record at the Wiseburn School District is exceptional. By 1993 Wiseburn had lost two of every three students, had closed three of six schools, and its enrollment was down to 1,000 students. When Brann retired in 2008, each school in the district had been or was scheduled to be rebuilt, one closed campus was reopened, test scores were climbing, and enrollment numbers
increased to over 2,000 students.

“Don is a master in the development and maintenance of a strong and productive district culture,” said Tom Johnstone (EdD ‘97), who nominated Brann and was named Superintendent of the Year in 2013. “He attracts strong leaders and he provides the guidance, leadership, and autonomy for them to thrive.”

In July 2013 it was announced that Brann would come out of retirement to accept the role of state administrator for Inglewood Unified. At that point, the school district had been taken over by the state, had lost nearly a third of its students, and its campuses needed renovation.

“In my encore career, I have the opportunity to make a positive difference in meeting the challenges facing Inglewood Unified School District,” said Brann. “It’s a fascinating endeavor.”

Hopes are high that Brann can turn things around. In Johnstone’s nomination, he noted that Brann had a strong track record of making difficult decisions, especially during times of severe fiscal hardship. “His strong moral compass always points to what is in the best interests of the kids,” said Johnstone. “This leadership has been reinforced through every board change and in every district that he has served.”

Torlakson provided commentary on education in California and recognized Brann and others at the reception. The event coincided with the Association of California School Administrators’ annual symposium.

Nominees for Superintendent of the Year were evaluated based on how well they demonstrated success in the following six areas:

1. Visionary Leadership
2. Instructional Leadership
3. Family and Community Involvement
4. Ethical Leadership and Building Leadership Capacity
5. Organizational Management
6. Advocacy

For more information about the Superintendent Advisory Council, visit

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