Dr. Hilda Maldonado took the helm of Santa Barbara Unified School District on July 1, 2020, becoming the second female - and first Latina - to serve as Superintendent in the history of the district, founded in 1866.
Dr. Maldonado took over Santa Barbara Unified during one of the most challenging periods in the history of the district as the COVID-19 pandemic forced district schools to transform teaching & learning almost overnight. Her commitment to the wellbeing of students, families and staff has guided her leadership each step of the way.
A longtime bilingual educator and student advocate, Dr. Maldonado began her career as an educator 32 years ago in L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) as a bilingual teacher. She progressed through the ranks, rising to the role of Associate Superintendent of LAUSD before joining Santa Barbara Unified.
Dr. Maldonado’s leadership is informed by her personal journey. A child immigrant from Mexico, she credits supportive teachers for helping her excel in school, and her mother’s love and encouragement for her strong work ethic, maintenance of her Spanish language and cultural traditions at home. As a public school graduate, she strongly believes in equity and inclusion for all students.
Under her leadership in LAUSD, Dr. Maldonado helped expand dual language programs, increased Seal of Biliteracy student awards, and improved results for English Learners. She has supervised school principals, developed policies and programs and led Multilingual and Multicultural Education. She has also taught summer institutes at UCLA’s California Reading and Literature Project focused on literacy and language.
A lifelong learner, Dr. Maldonado has been awarded the Stanton Fellowship Award by the Durfee Foundation. She is completed a doctorate degree at Loyola Marymount University in Social Justice Leadership. Dr. Maldonado earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master’s Degree from CSLA. She has also studied at Harvard Business School after being selected to attend the Public Education Leadership Project and the Program for Leadership Development.
Her love of nature and science are marked by experiences through scholarships from the Audubon Society and U.S. National Parks Service during her early years as a teacher. Her hobbies are hiking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. She also has a passion for biographies that center around family.
The superintendent serves as the chief executive officer of the school district. The superintendent is appointed by the five school board members and has four primary responsibilities as the leader of the school district:
Work with and support the school board in their role of governance, policy, and fiscal leadership of the district.
Directly lead the 60+ management team members as the organizational leaders of the district.
Provide oversight, leadership, visibility, and presence for SBUSD employees.
Serve as the primary representative and point of contact for the broader Santa Barbara community.
As a teaching and learning organization, we believe that the superintendent must be an instructional leader. The superintendent knows that the most important job of the school district is to make sure students are learning and achieving at high levels. With the support of the school board and the daily work of the district's employees, the superintendent leads the complex work of preparing our students for their future.