CSBA honors Petaluma City Schools Board President Joanna Paun as 2022 Board Member of the Year
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Dec. 7, 2022) – The California School Boards Association (CSBA) is thrilled to announce Petaluma City Schools Board President Joanna Paun as the 2022 CSBA Board Member of the Year recipient. Since 2018, Paun has demonstrated what it means to lead for students, the schools they attend and their community.
The Golden Gavel Award honors individual school board members and governance teams who exemplify best practices in effective governance. Paun, a passionate advocate for equity and strengthening student voice, was chosen from among approximately 5,000 school board members making up nearly 1,000 school boards throughout the state.
“Joanna’s courageous and unflagging commitment to all students, and advocacy for the underserved, exemplify the difference school board members can make by confronting difficult issues that must be addressed to accelerate student achievement and close opportunity and achievement gaps,” said 2022 CSBA President Dr. Susan Heredia.
Under Paun's leadership, the board has sought to make Petaluma City Schools a district that is safe and welcoming for all students, most recently by conducting a study in the 2021–22 school year to identify equity and opportunity gaps, which are currently being addressed using the data collected. Additionally, the board is implementing targeted training for trustees and staff on Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.
Among other achievements during Paun's tenure, the board seated its first-ever student board members, whom Paun says provide critical insight to the board and community as decisions are made that directly impact students.
Understanding the importance of tapping into diverse input from the community at large, the board now holds “office hours” at all school campuses once a semester. Teachers, parents, grandparents, guardians and students — including those who may not be able to attend regular school board meetings — have attended.
A “fearless leader,” according to fellow trustees, Paun is not afraid to stand up for what is right while still incorporating stakeholder input and making people feel heard, even if they disagree with her.
“Colleagues, don’t forget all of the reasons you chose to join your school board. It’s easy to get jaded or bogged down by the bureaucracy; we have to continually remind ourselves that students are on the other end of every decision, and they deserve and need our voices,” Paun said in her acceptance speech. “I know this to be true, personally, because I was that kid. The student you’re all advocating for, the one who didn’t do well in high school and faced the possibility of not graduating, but did so because of my mom, teachers, and counselors who encouraged me. But I don’t want that for our students — to barely get through. I want our students to have access to a rich, diverse educational experience.”
Paun accepted the award on Dec. 1 at the 2022 CSBA Annual Education Conference and Trade Show, held from Dec. 1-3 in San Diego. The conference is the premier continuing education event for California school boards and the largest education leadership conference in the state.
CSBA is a nonprofit association representing nearly 1,000 PreK-12 school districts
and county offices of education throughout California.