Meet the two finalists in search for Hawaii’s next schools superintendent

Linda Chen, left, and Christina Kishimoto


The Hawaii Board of Education is one step closer to finding the state’s next schools superintendent.

A designated search committee narrowed the candidates down to two finalists, and sent its recommendations to the board Wednesday:

Dr. Linda Chen is currently the founder and managing director of Ikigai Educational Consulting, LLC, which provides educational consulting services to K-12 institutions and partners to impact all students through system-wide instructional leadership development and strategic curricular reform. She has served in a number of educational leadership roles in several large and diverse school districts, including the Chief Academic Officer of Baltimore City Public Schools, Deputy Chief Academic Officer/Chief Curriculum and Instruction Officer for Boston Public Schools, and Assistant Superintendent and Deputy Chief of Teaching and Learning for the Philadelphia School District. Dr. Chen has a history of working for equity for all students, particularly in the areas of English learners and special education. She earned a Doctor of Education from the Urban Education Leaders Program, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership, and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Teaching – Reading and Writing, all from Columbia University Teachers College. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from University of Washington. She has served as a teacher and a principal in Seattle and New York City public schools.

Dr. Christina Kishimoto is currently the Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer for Gilbert Public Schools in Gilbert, Arizona, a district with an enrollment of 36,500 students and an annual budget of $305 million. She has served in a number of educational leadership roles, including the Superintendent and as Assistant Superintendent of School Design of Harford Public Schools, Founder and Director of The Center for School Improvement & Leadership Development at Area Cooperative Education Services, and Assistant Dean of Student Services for Wesleyan University. Dr. Kishimoto has demonstrated experience with closing the achievement gap and developing substantial partnerships between public education and private business. She earned a Doctor of Education in Education Administration from Columbia University Teachers College, a Master of Public Administration in Public Affairs and Policy from the University of Connecticut, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Barnard College.

Click here to view each candidate’s cover letter and resume.

“Without going into specifics, we are fortunate enough to have candidates of this caliber, very well experienced. a lot of expertise, and I appreciate the fact that we have such high-caliber candidates applying for the job,”said Lance Mizumoto, chairman of both the search committee and the board.

Mizumoto says while neither candidate is from Hawaii, both have ties to the state, either through friends or family.

Mizumoto says the board intends to fly both candidates to Hawaii, “because we feel it’s important for them to engage with the community. We are in the process of setting up a number of meetings with stakeholders in the community, and we also want to hold some public forums, as well as having some type of informal meet-and-greet, just to make sure they are engaged and the public has a chance to meet these two individuals.”

The board intends to schedule these visits for early May with the hopes of making a final selection on May 11.

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