Sonja Brookins Santelises

Sonja Brookins Santelises, `89

Chief Academic Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools

Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises began her new post as Chief Academic Officer for Baltimore City Public Schools on March 16, 2010.  Since her appointment, Dr. Santelises has focused on setting academic priorities for City Schools to bolster the achievement of students across all schools.

Dr. Santelises came to City Schools from Boston, where she was the Assistant Superintendent for Pilot Schools, a network of 23 schools with broad autonomy (over budget, staffing, governance, curriculum, and the school calendar) and a track record of successfully meeting students’ needs and improving the achievement of low-income students and students of color in particular. Prior to the Pilot Schools post, Dr. Santelises was Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning/Professional Development in Boston from 2006-2008. She had interned in Boston Public Schools in 1999-2000 as part of the Urban Superintendent Doctoral program at Harvard, which requires a six-month full-time internship with an urban school district. Based on that short stint, former Boston Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Payzant hired her back as an assistant superintendent before retiring himself in 2006.

Prior to joining Boston Public Schools, Dr. Santelises lectured on urban education for two years at Harvard University and spent six years as a senior associate with Focus on Results Inc, where she worked with five major urban districts, coaching superintendents and training school leaders. Prior to that, Dr. Santelises served as Executive Director of the New York City Algebra Project, the local site of the acclaimed national math reform program, also present in City Schools.

Santelises began her career in education as Director of Professional Development and Teacher Placement with Teach for America, New York, followed by stint at a year-round school in Brooklyn where she was a founder, teacher, and curriculum specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University, a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Columbia University and a Doctor of Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy, from Harvard University.

 A very important aspect of her life is family — her husband, Luis, a business entrepreneur, and her three daughters.  Outside of professional interests, Dr. Santelises loves world travel, art, professional sports, and church ministry.