Schools superintendent named Hispanic Woman of the Year

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Gabriela Mafi, Ed.D., superintendent of the Garden Grove Unified School District, was chosen as a 2015 Orange County Hispanic Woman of the Year for education by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Santa Ana Council #147.

Gabriela Mafi, Ed.D., superintendent of the Garden Grove Unified School District, was chosen as a 2015 Orange County Hispanic Woman of the Year for education by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Santa Ana Council #147.

Dr. Mafi will be recognized with seven other recipients at the organization’s annual awards banquet on Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Ebell Club in Santa Ana. All eight honorees were selected in their respective categories “based on their accomplishments and their meaningful voluntary community efforts, personal accomplishments, and their involvement in civic affairs.”

The LULAC awards are given in the categories of Business, Education, Public Health Advocate, Public Service, The Arts and Volunteer Community Service.

Dr. Mafi was nominated by district Board of Education member Teri Rocco, who credits the superintendent for playing the “instrumental role in keeping everyone focused on doing their part to ensure that our students attain academic success, develop their socio-emotional well-being, and are motivated and college and career ready.”

“Her personal achievements and accomplishments have served to fuel her passion for promoting the success of all students,” Trustee Rocco stated. “This includes her commitment to create and implement programs to support our students with the greatest needs, many whom are English learners, low income, and would-be first-generation college students.”

Dr. Mafi came to the district as an elementary principal in 2002 and subsequently served as director of personnel and director of 7-12 instructional services. She left the district for one year to assume the role of executive director of the doctoral program at USC’s Rossier School of Education where she continues to serve as an adjunct associate professor, teaching courses in curriculum, instruction, and accountability.

She was named assistant superintendent of secondary education for the district in 2009. During her time managing secondary schools Dr. Mafi oversaw course placement practices that resulted in a more than doubling of the district’s a-g rate – now exceeding the state and county average – and encouraged the successful formation of Latinos Unidos, student-led clubs at all eight district high schools, to support the academic success of Latino students in collaboration with Orange County United Way.

Since her appointment as superintendent in 2013, she initiated a college and career Mentoring program in which college students return to their district elementary school to serve as role models, build rapport with students, and support mentees’ aspirations for college preparation and attendance. This program was based on Dr. Mafi’s work in personally mentoring more than 100 students at the district’s highest poverty schools through monthly meetings, mentoring support, tutoring, and college visits.

Before joining the district, Dr. Mafi held teaching and administrative positions in ABC and Paramount unified school districts.

A first-generation college graduate, Dr. Mafi grew up in urban Los Angeles. She received her bachelor’s degree from Cal-State Long Beach and her master’s and doctorate degrees in Urban Educational Leadership from USC.