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MaryEllen Elia

Commissioner of Education and President


MaryEllen Elia

MaryEllen Elia is the New York State Commissioner of Education and President of the University of the State of New York (USNY). Ms. Elia oversees the work of more than 700 school districts with 3.2 million students; 7,000 libraries; 900 museums; and 52 professions encompassing more than 850,000 licensees.

Commissioner Elia has 45 years of experience as an educator and prior to her appointment in New York, she served as superintendent of schools in Hillsborough County, Florida, for 10 years. In Hillsborough, which includes Tampa and is the nation’s eighth largest school district, she successfully implemented higher learning standards, partnered with teachers to develop a comprehensive evaluation system, and earned national recognition for gains in student achievement. Ms. Elia is the 2015 Florida Superintendent of the Year, a recipient of the 2015 AASA Women in School Leadership Award from the School Superintendents Association, and was one of four finalists for the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year award.

In her first year as New York’s Education Commissioner, she visited more than 30 counties, dozens of school districts and well over 100 different schools in an effort to learn how New York’s schools can be improved and how the State can help drive and support those improvements.

Commissioner Elia, together with the Board of Regents, accomplished significant actions in her first year – including work with the Governor and Legislature to successfully advocate for a significant investment in State Aid and to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), secure $1 million in additional funds for professional development of teachers, and advocate for increases in library aid and aid for library construction.

Ms. Elia earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Daeman College in Buffalo, a Master of Education from the University of Buffalo, and a Master of Professional Studies from SUNY Buffalo. In 1970, she began her career in education as a social studies teacher in Buffalo’s Sweet Home Central School District and taught for 19 years before moving on to administrative positions.


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