SANTA ROSA — This week, Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Diann Kitamura will be honored with the highest award given by the Association of California School Administrators, an organization of 17,000 school leaders.

Diann Kitamura

Dr. Kitamura will receive the Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award during a virtual awards ceremony on Nov. 6 (viewing details below).

She has been an advocate for equity in Sonoma County’s largest school district, Santa Rosa City Schools, for the past seven years, including more than four years as superintendent. Under her leadership, the district has gained statewide recognition for its work to accelerate the progress of English learners and Latino students, and to close access gaps.

During the past four years, Kitamura has steered the district through one crisis after another, beginning in 2017 with the Tubbs Fire, which destroyed a district elementary school, a high school farm, and the homes of 900 students and staff.

She has been called as a resource by other school district leaders in California, and has used her crisis-related knowledge to lead through several more traumatic events in Santa Rosa, including smoke-related school closures in 2018, Kincade Fire evacuations and frequent power shut-offs to schools in 2019, and this year’s Glass Fire and COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the incredible and unprecedented challenges of the past several years, Diann has proactively led this district into cutting-edge work regarding equity, cultural resources, and social and emotional learning,” said Laurie Fong, president of the Santa Rosa City Schools Board of Education. “Her compassion for each student, family and staff member fuels this work.”

Born in the Sacramento Valley, Kitamura graduated from Yuba City High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in plant science from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree in counseling from California State University, Sacramento. In 2019, she earned a Doctor of Education in organizational keadership from Brandman University.

Kitamura’s 37 years in education include time as an agriculture teacher, school counselor, vice principal, principal, and school district administrator in both the Sacramento area and the Bay Area. In every position, her work focused on the best interest of students, often around equity and increasing access for students of color.

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is the largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the U.S., serving more than 17,000 California educators. According to their ​website​, the Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award is ACSA’s highest honor: “Each year, we honor one individual who has made a significant contribution to education. The award is named after Ferd Kiesel, ACSA founding president, a man whose personal commitment to schools and students — and tothis association — was exemplary.”

Watch the ACSA Awards 2020 Recognition Event this Friday at 6 p.m. on Facebook (http://​ or YouTube (http://​

Santa Rosa City Schools is the largest school district in Sonoma County, serving 16,000 students in 24 schools. The district has won statewide recognition for its Equity and Social Justice Initiative. Learn more on the website: http://​

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