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California School Boards Association honors Atascadero USD Trustee Donn Clickard with Board Member of the Year Award

The inaugural Golden Gavel Award recognizes an individual school board member who exemplifies best practices in effective governance and boardsmanship


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Dec. 12, 2019) – The California School Boards Association is pleased to recognize Atascadero Unified School District trustee Donn Clickard as its inaugural Board Member of the Year. Clickard has spent most of his life in service of educating children. He taught special education classes at Atascadero High School for 34 years and also served as the high school’s athletic director. After his retirement in 2004, Clickard was elected to the Atascadero USD Board of Trustees, where he has now served for 14 years.

Clickard is an outspoken and proud advocate for public education and Atascadero USD, which serves nearly 5,000 students in San Luis Obispo County. He is also a champion of local control and believes in the importance of stakeholder and community engagement when it comes to providing direction for the district. A beacon of hope in his community, Clickard knew he had to do something when parents from the district talked to him about the death of two former Atascadero students due to heroin overdoses. He is one of the founders of Lighthouse Atascadero, a nonprofit aimed at preventing substance abuse by youths in the community through awareness, prevention, intervention and education. Beginning with providing counselors at the district’s continuation high school, the Lighthouse project has grown to include a wellness center on the district’s main high school campus, a mentoring program, a coffee company run by students, after-school programs and resource centers in the community.

“Through Trustee Clickard's leadership and genuine involvement in a local nonprofit, we have developed a comprehensive drug and alcohol abuse prevention program to benefit our students and community,” Atascadero USD Superintendent Tom Butler said. “Donn truly values and respects his fellow Trustees — this has resulted in a true governance team in AUSD.” 

Clickard has continued his lifelong learning journey through various CSBA trainings, including the Masters in Governance program and attending every Annual Education Conference since 2005 — the flagship continuing education event for board members. He understands and embraces his role as one of seven trustees who together set direction for the district. Additionally, Clickard has shared his expertise as a mentor to new board members of Atascadero USD and board members in other districts by working with the county office of education. 

“Donn exemplifies the qualities that make an effective trustee,” said CSBA President Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez. “He supports learning for all students and understands the importance of community input. He has demonstrated his dedication to supporting the whole child through the Lighthouse program and shown great leadership in his roles as mentor to new board members.”

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized with this meaningful and incredibly humbling award,” said Clickard. “I believe that board members hold the most important elected position in every community in our state, working together to always do what is best for our students. I’d like to thank my superintendent, Tom Butler, for always meeting expectations and my fellow trustees in Atascadero Unified — we always make each other better.”


CSBA is a nonprofit association representing nearly 1,000 PreK-12 school districts
and county offices of education throughout California.