Welcome, 2023 Rural Superintendent Academy Fellows! 

July 31, 2023

Fifteen Colorado School and District Leaders Selected to Join RSA 

Denver, CO: The third Rural Superintendent Academy (RSA) launched the week of July 17, welcoming 15 new and experienced superintendents and district and school leaders who are focused on building system leadership capacity and collaborative relationships across the state.

Made possible with support from the Boettcher Foundation, RSA is a professional development opportunity led by Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) to develop and advance approaches that improve rural school district leadership, while fostering peer-to-peer relationships among participants. RSA is facilitated by CEI Senior Partner George Welsh, who served for 25 years as a superintendent and was honored as the 2014 Colorado Superintendent of the Year. Welsh partners with two other veteran Colorado superintendents, CEI’s Karen Quanbeck and Alex Carter, to make RSA a powerful growth experience for every fellow.

The new cohort represents rural leaders from Bayfield, Center, Durango, Ignacio, Manitou Springs, Moffat County, Pueblo 60, Rocky Ford, Salida, Sanford, Sargent, South Conejos, Summit, Swink, and Trinidad school districts.  

Fellows expand their leadership expertise by studying how to create conditions for excellence in district governance, community leadership, and district operational capacity. RSA supports fellows to build adaptive and responsive relationships among students and families, communities, school boards, and staff as they collectively work toward the goal of long-term success and sustainability for their districts and communities. 

Special congratulations to RSA fellows Christian De La Oliva of Chávez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy in Pueblo School District 60 and Margarita Tovar of Summit County School District, who have been selected to receive the 2023 Dr. Cile Chavez Fellowship. Each year, the Boettcher Foundation awards two RSA fellows The Dr. Cile Chavez Fellowship to inspire diverse, underrepresented education leaders to join RSA and bring their unique perspectives to the helm of Colorado districts, including through financial assistance to support costs related to their participation.

Twenty-four fellows have completed RSA in two previous cohorts, including 19 who currently serve as effective superintendents in rural Colorado school districts.

“I have no doubt that this wonderful group will make previous RSA Fellows proud as participants work to develop their leadership skills and contribute to the outstanding collegial network that CEI and the Boettcher Foundation have created through this program.” 
– George Welsh, Senior Partner, CEI

CEI will begin accepting applications for RSA Cohort 4 in spring 2024. 

2023-24 Rural Superintendent Academy Cohort Fellows 
Appearing from left to right:  
  • Dr. Bonnie Aaron, Superintendent, Trinidad School District 1, Trinidad, Colorado 
  • Shauna Branch, Elementary Principal, Ignacio School District, Ignacio, Colorado 
  • Dr. Karen Cheser, Superintendent, Durango School District RE-9, Durango, Colorado 
  • Michelle (Shelley) David, Principal, Sargent School District R-33J, Monte Vista, Colorado 
  • Christian De La Oliva, President/CEO, Chávez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy, Pueblo, Colorado 
  • Sean Dorsey, Superintendent, Manitou Springs School District 14, Manitou Springs, Colorado 
  • Jill Hafey, Superintendent, Moffat County School District RE-1, Craig, Colorado 
  • Bill Hesford, Assistant Superintendent, Bayfield School District, Bayfield, Colorado 
  • Joshua Lopez, Superintendent, South Conejos School District RE-10, Antonito, Colorado 
  • Larry Lyder, Superintendent, Swink School District 33, Swink, Colorado 
  • Jared Morgan, Superintendent, Sanford School District Sanford, Colorado 
  • Nicole Neufeld, Principal, Center Consolidated School District 26JT, Center, Colorado 
  • Kermit Snyder, Superintendent, Rocky Ford School District, Rocky Ford, Colorado 
  • Margarita Tovar, Chief Talent Officer, Summit School District, Summit County, Colorado 
  • William Wooddell, Assistant Superintendent, Salida School District R-32J, Salida, Colorado 

Learn more about the 2023 RSA Cohort here