CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools
Dr. Sonja B. Santelises is CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools. She has spent 30 years focused on building high-quality teaching and learning to help students excel, including during her tenure as the district’s chief academic officer. She also served for three years as vice president for K-12 policy and practice at The Education Trust.
Santelises first came to Baltimore from Boston Public Schools, where she was the assistant superintendent for pilot schools, a network of 23 campuses with broad autonomy and a track record of improving achievement among low-income students, and particularly low-income students of color. Prior to that post, she was assistant superintendent for teaching and learning/professional development.
Before her time in Boston, Santelises lectured on urban education for two years at Harvard University and spent six years as a senior associate with Focus on Results, Inc., where she coached superintendents and trained school leaders in five major urban districts. She also previously served as executive director of the New York City Algebra Project, the local site of the acclaimed national math reform program.
Santelises began her career in education as director of professional development and teacher placement with Teach For America—New York. She then served as a teacher and curriculum specialist at Decatur Clearpool School in Brooklyn, where she oversaw the founding of the middle school campus.
As an educator, academic scholar, and administrator, Santelises has been steadfast in her belief that excellence in urban education is achievable at scale. She earned her bachelor’s from Brown University and her master’s in education administration from Columbia University. She holds a doctorate in education administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University.