“It has been a great honor to work with Elliott Hibbs as Deputy Superintendent for Operations. Despite our best efforts, Elliott will be retiring from state service,” Superintendent Douglas said. “For those who have worked with him, he is the ultimate leader, manager and example of integrity. He will be sorely missed.”
Deputy Superintendent Hibbs will be replaced by Shari Zara, currently the Chief Financial Officer of the Queen Creek Unified School District. Hibbs will continue with ADE on a part-time basis to ensure a smooth transition.
Zara has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix and more than 20 years of experience in school finance. She won the Gold Award from the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) for 11 consecutive years, and was named Member of the Year in 2009. Zara has served on numerous boards and commissions and shown leadership in teaching school finance compliance to other districts.
“I am excited for this opportunity to impact the education of our children in a positive way in a statewide capacity,” Zara said. “My focus will be to maintain the strategic planning and high standards of my predecessor Elliott Hibbs. While no one can truly replace such an outstanding public servant, I look forward to building upon the strong foundation he has set in place and continuing the commitment to service for our constituents.”
Other departures have allowed Superintendent Douglas to recruit former state legislator Leah Landrum Taylor for the vacant position of Director of Special Projects. She will act as a project manager on key policy initiatives, such as establishing a continuous standards improvement process and working with various advisory boards to ensure that history, civics and other standards accurately include the diversity of our state. She also will work on key pieces of department legislation.
Landrum Taylor has a master’s degree in political science from Arizona State University and is a fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has served eight years in the State Senate and eight years in the State House of Representatives.
Among Landrum Taylor’s accomplishments are serving as Minority Leader, Assistant Minority Leader and Caucus Chair in the Senate, and in House leadership positions as the Minority Whip and Assistant Minority Leader. Landrum Taylor also has worked as an adjunct professor and in numerous roles supporting Arizona children. She is the mother of three school-age children.
“I was very impressed with my meetings with Superintendent Douglas, especially when I accompanied her on a preschool visit. I have no doubt that her only goal is to improve the education and lives of Arizona children,” Landrum Taylor said. “I had several options after leaving the Senate to serve the state and our children, but after long deliberation, I believe this is the best place for me to accomplish the most for our next generation.”