Dr. James P. Lee has been elected president of the executive committee of the Minority Student Achievement Network a national coalition of multiracial, suburban-urban school districts that have come together to understand and eliminate racial achievement gaps that persist in their schools.
Lee, who has served as superintendent of the Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, Ariz., since 2009, will lead the executive committee in establishing organizational goals, overseeing MSAN’s finances, and reviewing membership applications. He will also guide the executive committee in providing direction to MSAN’s governing board, which is comprised of superintendents from all 29 MSAN districts.
Lee, who will serve a two-year term, has more than 30 years of experience working in the field of education as a teacher, principal, director of student services, and assistant superintendent.
According to MSAN Executive Director Dr. Madeline Hafner, Lee has been a vocal leader on the MSAN governing board since joining it in 2009. Hafner praised Lee’s efforts to pursue recruitment of additional school districts to MSAN, particularly in the southwestern United States.
“He wants to grow MSAN’s regional presence, especially in the Southwest,” Hafner said. “He believes in the power of MSAN’s approach to reducing achievement gaps through networking, research, and convening as being particularly helpful to that area of the country.”
In 2012, the Paradise Valley Unified School District hosted the MSAN Student Conference, an annual event designed to develop students from MSAN districts into equity leaders in their own communities. Thanks to Lee’s efforts, Hafner said, the event achieved all of its goals.
“Jim is one of our strongest proponents for student leadership,” Hafner said. “In his own leadership, I would say that he leads by example, drawing out the best from those he works with, from his teachers, to his students, to his fellow MSAN board members. He is excellent at putting together a great team and giving them independence to do fantastic things.”
MSAN is based in Madison, Wis., and is affiliated with the Wisconsin Center for Education, the research arm of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1999, MSAN has worked to achieve the parallel goals of eliminating achievement gaps while ensuring all students achieve to high levels. To this end, MSAN districts work collaboratively to conduct and publish research, analyze policies, and examine practices that influence the academic performance of students of color.