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March 29, 2023
ASCD Blog

Women’s History Month Q&A: Susana Córdova on Supporting the Next Generation

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We must reflect on those who paved the path before us—and be a bridge for the next generation.
Leadership
Women’s History Month Q&A: Susana Córdova on Insights for the Next Generation
Susana Córdova is the superintendent in residence at Transcend, an organization dedicated to supporting and optimizing schools and systems across the country. Córdova has been a leader in the field for decades, previously serving as the superintendent of Denver Public Schools and Dallas Public Schools. She has earned EdWeek’s Leader to Learn From award and the Latinas LEAD Influencer Award for her contributions to education.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate Women’s History Month?

I think it's really important to celebrate Women’s History Month because for all of us—veteran leaders, the young women who are just starting their careers, and especially the girls in our schools—it is so important to learn about women’s history and see role models who are making a positive difference in the world. There are brave women who are bucking the status quo—in some cases, risking their lives—to have the kind of impact in the world that we know women can have. 

Which women in history have inspired you? 

It’s pretty cliché, but I’d say my mom. I’ve been so incredibly inspired by my mother. She grew up in a low-income family, worked really hard, and showed me that by caring for others and caring for your community, you can make a difference in the world. 

Do you have a favorite leadership quote, statement, or motto you’d like to share? 

The writer George Colman once said, “Praise the bridge that carried you over.” I believe in this very deeply. I am so grateful to the people who came before me, who championed the path for me, and I try to be a bridge for others as well. 

What is one tip you’d like to share with other women to help them become more impactful leaders?

Make sure you are your biggest cheerleader. We frequently support and champion others but are our own worst critics. What I recommend—and what I try to do for myself—is to quash the negative voice in your head and amplify the positive one. Think about how excited you can be for your best friend, then be that best friend for yourself.

This year, #EmbraceEquity is the theme for International Women's Day. How do you embrace equity in your work?

To me, #EmbraceEquity means we need to consider how we support others. How can we pave a path? How can we make sure that there are more people sitting at the table who represent the diversity of the world around us? It means that we need to do all that we can to create a more inclusive society. This is something that has driven me in my career and life and is also something I’m really proud to embrace today.

Penny Reinart is the deputy executive director of ASCD and a lifetime educator of 39 years. A two-time Teacher of the Year award winner, she has 18 years of classroom experience working with K–8 students. After moving into the private sector, Penny Reinart led research, design, and development of digital products and professional learning focused on student achievement, educator impact, and organizational growth. She has held several leadership positions with education companies, most recently Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Achieve 3000, Kaplan K12, and Renaissance Learning.

Her contributions include developing literacy implementation and professional development services, leading gold-standard research initiatives, instructional design of a reading intervention program for striving adolescent readers, and an intensive reading intervention program for phonics, phonemic awareness, and fluency development. She has been instrumental in the design of software using artificial intelligence for data-driven decisions in all content areas and the suite of services to facilitate the implementation of those products. Reinart's comprehensive school reform model has been widely recognized. An accomplished public speaker and consultant, she provided numerous keynote addresses for school districts across the United States and consulted Internationally.

In her role as the Chief Impact Officer, Reinart is excited to lead content and community development teams in creating digital products, developing professional learning content, and building meaningful partnerships. She holds a bachelor's degree in child development from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Tx. and an education certification from West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Tx.

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