December 2, 2016

Southland Superintendent Roles Filled From Urban Leadership Program

CGU gate and Harper Hall

School districts in urban settings present a special set of issues and challenges for administrators—ranging from the socioeconomics to the ethnic diversity of their populations. The Urban Leadership program at CGU’s School of Educational Studies is designed to meet these exact challenges.

As the end of the year approaches, two members of the Urban Leadership program—a current doctoral student and an alumnus—have been chosen to lead two large urbanized school districts in Southern California.

In October, Anthony Martinez (PhD, 2009) was appointed to serve as Interim Superintendent of the Montebello Unified School District.

Located 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and addressing student populations from cities including Montebello, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Los Angeles, and more, the district has a total enrollment of about 35,000 K–12 students and 30,000 adult learners, according to a district fact sheet.

Prior to his October appointment, Martinez was the district’s assistant superintendent of instructional services. His selection for the district’s top role came after the district’s Board of Education voted to put the district’s superintendent and chief financial officer both on administrative leave.

In a statement to the Whittier Daily News, board member Edgar Cisneros hailed Martinez for his leadership, saying he has “the utmost confidence in Dr. Anthony Martinez to lead the district during this critical time.”


In July, Hemet Unified School District announced the selection of Christi Barrett to serve as superintendent of the district, which is located about 80 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Barrett, who is currently completing her Urban Leadership doctorate, previously has served as a principal, assistant superintendent, and assistant superintendent of human resources before assuming this new position.

For Barrett, leading the 31-school district in Riverside County’s San Jacinto Valley has been extremely rewarding. As she works with her team on bringing together a diverse set of stakeholders to assist the district’s 22,000 students, Barrett said she has had many “real conversations” with her colleagues inspired by her training in Urban Leadership.

“The Urban Leadership program has taught me to question everything, especially claims that certain educational programs are ‘research-based,’ ” she said at the time of her selection to lead Hemet Unified. “Whenever I hear that claim, I put on my researcher hat and challenge those assertions.”

Barrett also credited Carl Cohn, the Urban Leadership program’s former director, and Kent Bechler and Ralph Baker, who are both Urban Leadership doctoral alumni, for supporting and advising her as she moved into the superintendency.

“I don’t think it’s by coincidence that my three greatest mentors have been from CGU,” she explained. “This really speaks to the wonderful things we learn in the Urban Leadership program.”