Dr. Brenda Cassellius has spent three decades as an educator devoted to helping all children succeed and thrive. Most recently as Boston Public School Superintendent whereby she led the district through three school years of a worldwide pandemic. Leading for equity, Dr. Cassellius passed historic admission policies at the nation’s oldest public school and raised college and career graduation requirements for all high schools, garnering the highest graduation rates on record. Dr. Cassellius also worked alongside three Mayor’s to invest 110 million dollars in annual ongoing funding and a 2 billion dollar investment in capital funding. Dr. Cassellius is credited with prioritizing and listening to the community and implementing practices and policies that systemically improve equitable student outcomes.
As Minnesota's commissioner of education from 2011 to 2019 Dr. Cassellius worked to enact comprehensive education reforms that benefited every child throughout the state. Her straightforward, community-driven approach resulted in a remarkable list of accomplishments, including historic new funding for schools, the enactment of all-day kindergarten, state-funded preschool for 25,000 three and four year old children, and the highest high school graduation rates on record. She is most proud of the work she did regarding equitable policies such as reforming Achievement and Integration aid, American Indian Education Aid, School Lunch Aid, Anti-bullying legislation and the development of a Transgender Toolkit.
A respected educator throughout her profession and across partisan lines, Dr. Cassellius is best known for her unrelenting advocacy and commitment to ensuring all children are given an equitable and excellent education. While commissioner, she served on the board of directors for the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and contributed to the development of their 10 Equity Commitments, which state education chiefs across the nation have adopted to further equity goals and outcomes.
Since starting her career in 1990 as a special education paraprofessional, she moved on to roles as a classroom teacher, administrator and superintendent in school systems in Minnesota and Tennessee. She's successfully led redesign and change efforts that put students first, focus on achievement and have resulted in better outcomes for all students. She believes change can happen quickly if it is purposeful, collaborative, and grounded in effective strategies, and her record has proven that belief to be true.
Prior to serving as commissioner, Dr. Cassellius was the superintendent of the East Metro Integration District, where she led an integration and achievement agenda with 10 East Metro school district superintendents. She also served as an associate superintendent in the Minneapolis Public School District, where she led 19 middle and high schools and was responsible for the implementation of the Minneapolis Secondary Redesign; and as academic superintendent of middle schools in Memphis, Tennessee where she was responsible for middle school and district reforms that led to accelerated gains, narrowed achievement gaps, and the end of corporal punishment.
Outside of work, Dr. Cassellius enjoys playing amateur women’s hockey, water skiing, writing and spending time with family and friends.