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    (10/15/2009) NEW HAVEN – On the heels of a successful teacher contract negotiation that positions the New Haven Public Schools to institute aggressive school reform initiatives, Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. has named two local education leaders to the New Haven Board of Education. DeStefano announced today that Alex Johnston, founder and CEO of Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) and Selase Williams, Provost at Southern Connecticut State University, have been appointed to the Board filling two of three seats that became vacant following recent resignations and fulfillment of term limits.

    Prior to starting ConnCAN in 2005, Johnston served as director of operations at the New Haven Housing Authority. A graduate of Harvard University, Johnston studied at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship and received a D.Phil. in politics from Oxford's Lincoln College, where he studied the impact of government funding on non-profit service providers.

    Williams, the first provost in Southern’s 112-year history, began his duties in September 2005. He serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs, and his responsibilities include overseeing all academic programs and playing a key role in the day-to-day operations of the university. As the second highest-ranking individual at the university, he is acting president when President Norton is off campus for any significant time. He previously served as dean at California State University at Dominquez Hills for almost 11 years. His tenure included successful solicitation of more than $2 million in gifts from private and corporate donors and the development of successful partnerships with public schools and community colleges which streamlined the process for students entering bachelor degree programs at California State.

    Both join the board at a critical time as the City and the District implement sweeping school reform initiatives intended to slash the drop-out rate in half, significantly narrow the achievement gap, increase graduation rates and make sure that all students who work hard and play by the rules go to college.

    “The appointment of these two individuals to the Board of Education demonstrates the City’s commitment to expand the breadth of partners and education leaders that will make New Haven the very best urban school district in the nation,” said DeStefano. “Successful school reform requires the participation of the business community, academic institutions, parents and community. This initiative does more than just improve academic performance in our classrooms it also serves as the best economic development, crime prevention and attraction to our City. These appointments also demonstrate the huge advantage of an appointed school board to attract members that would not be available through a political process. I look forward to working with Alex and Selase to bring New Haven schools to the next level and develop what will be a national model for school reform.”

    “As we really start to gear up this reform work, I am thrilled to have two such respected and committed partners to help us create the type of district we know is possible”, says Dr. Mayo. “The Mayor has shown his commitment to this school system and the children in it with these appointments”.

    The other members of the Board are: Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., Dr. Carlos Torre, Elizabeth Torres, Michael R. Nast and Susan R. Samuels.


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