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MaryEllen Elia

Senior Fellow | International Center for Leadership in Education

MaryEllen Elia

MaryEllen Elia is a Partner at the International Center for Leadership in Education. She is the former New York State Commissioner of Education and President of the University of the State of New York (USNY). In this role, she oversaw the work of more than 700 school districts with 3.2 million students; 7,000 libraries; 900 museums; and more than 50 professions encompassing nearly 900,000 licensees. A native New Yorker, MaryEllen has nearly 5 decades of experience as an educator and was New York’s first female Education Commissioner. Her vast experience in innovation and community schools continue to benefit schools across the country. 

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. MaryEllen was named 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.

MaryEllen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Daemen College in Buffalo, a Master of Education from the University of Buffalo, and a Master of Professional Studies from SUNY Buffalo. 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.

MaryEllen’s experience as a highly-successful senior school administrator coupled with her deep personal commitment to make every student all they are capable of being, enables her to now provide great advice and leadership to school districts throughout the country.

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