SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Charlie Baker named Springfield business leader Tricia Canavan to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“I think Massachusetts should be very proud of the way we educate our children and our level of excellence,” Canavan said Wednesday. “That said, there is a significant achievement gap, particularly among students from diverse backgrounds, compared to some of their peers.”
“We have to work to improve it. These are statewide issues, but I also appreciate the opportunity to bring a Western Massachusetts perspective on board. I am very proud of this region”, she said.
Canavan and Michael Moriarty of Holyoke give Massachusetts Western two members on the 11-member board. Moriarty served 13 years on the Holyoke School Committee, helped form the Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative, served as an attorney and was named executive director of OneHolyoke Community Development Corp. in 2013.
“We have two — we’re small but mighty,” Canavan said with a laugh.
“I hope I can strengthen the work of the (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) to help make progress on these very important issues, including closing the achievement gap,” Canavan said.
Canavan has taught at the community college and high school level with a focus on teaching English as a second language. She taught at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield and in Tampico, Mexico, and served on the faculty at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
She is the CEO of Tech Foundry, an economic development nonprofit that connects underserved and underrepresented adults with training and placement in the information technology sector. She is the former president of United Personnel Services, which was acquired by Masis Staff Solutions of Worcester last year.
Canavan has worked with education, workforce development and community projects in the Springfield area for many years, including serving as co-chair of Springfield Business Leaders for Education. She was also a member of the Portrait of a Graduate strategic planning initiative for Springfield Public Schools.
She chairs the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council and serves on the boards of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, MassHire Hampden County and the Springfield Public Forum.
Canavan holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and did graduate studies in American history at Boston University.
She said the Springfield Empowerment Area Partnership is an example of creative strategies that can benefit the state as a whole. The Empowerment Zone is a collaborative with shared responsibilities by administrators, faculty and the state in the operation of several Springfield public schools.
“It is an example of innovative solutions. These are challenging situations that educators face, but with new and different approaches can come great opportunities,” Canavan said.
Baker also appointed Farzana Mohamed, an author and management consultant from the Boston area, to the board of education.
Mohamed is the author of How to Negotiate Your First Job, which aims to help graduates and young professionals negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. She is a managing partner at Process Improvement LLC, which advises global clients on process improvement, change management, employee engagement and corporate governance.
“As Mrs. Canavan and Mrs. Mohamed brings a unique combination of expertise and managerial experience in the education sector that will benefit Commonwealth schools and the students they serve. We are grateful for their commitment to help create strong educational starts for children and families in schools across Massachusetts,” Baker said.
“Ms. Canavan and Ms. Mohamed have developed strong community partnerships and engaged businesses to help strengthen educational progress in their communities,” Gov. Karyn Polito said in a statement. “We are very pleased that they will now bring their experience and commitment to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.”
Canavan and Mohamed replace board members Amanda Fernandez and James Morton, who completed their five-year terms on June 30.
“James and Amanda have been tremendous contributors to our work providing practical leadership on a range of critical policy issues, and most importantly, they always put children’s interests and equality front and centre, for which I am truly grateful. We welcome Tricia and Farzana to the Board and look forward to working with them,” said Secretary of Education James Peyser.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet Aug. 15 at noon at its headquarters in Malden.