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Dr. Danna Diaz is the Superintendent of the San Juan Islands School District, in Washington. Danna has served the interest of public schools spanning 4 decades in various positions in both large and small school systems. Her administrative career includes 20 years as an Administrator in eleven districts across four states - Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida and Washington. 
Known for her no non-sense attitude and unparalleled work ethic, Danna’s reputation in the education community precedes her - which is why she was asked to join the San Juan Island School District.  Prior to joining the San Juan Island School District, Danna worked as an Area Superintendent for the El Paso ISD, as Director of Student Engagement for the Fort Worth ISD.  She was instrumental in the development, implementation and evaluation of district programs and services that address academic achievement, student leadership development, school completion and college readiness.
In addition, for all the years she tirelessly worked her way through the ranks, her proudest moment includes not one, but two Teacher of the Year awards earning the respect of her peers and high level administrators.

About The Conversation

Danna grew up in Harlem, but also in Puerto Rico.  She knew early in her childhood that she wanted to be a teacher.  Along the way, Danna had mentors guiding her, which is partly why she now serves as a mentor for others. 

  • In pursuing her dream, Danna became a bilingual teacher.  In her story she speaks of the challenges she encountered along the way.
  • The experiences she had propelled her toward wanting to make a difference on a larger scale.  As a result, Danna became not only an administrator, but pursued the superintendency, believing that it would place her in a better position to address inequalities.

The 4 Pillars:

  • Scholarship:   Danna works to build the capacity in her team.  She believes that her team is a mastermind group that comes together to learn and collaborate. 
  • Leadership:Through her leadership, Danna conveys the belief that her team rises together because it works together.  Each helps to raise the other. 
  • Agency:  While the full impact of her response to this pillars question was not captured, Danna does share the importance of acknowledging each others' stories and challenges, because that story contributes to the whole of the work. 

Danna's challenges include funding - she doesn't believe it is specific to her, but is part of a larger problem impacting the institution of public education.  The other challenge she faces is professional development.  Because she is on an island, her staff must travel far to receive support.  She is working to bring the PD to her staff.

Resources Mentioned

District Website:

You can reach Danna on

  • Facebook:  danna diaz
  • Email:
  • Business telephone #: (360) 370-7905

The District Leader email:

You can subscribe to the District Leader on iTunes

The Sponsors
This episode is being sponsored by, where you get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at, byIsagenix, one of America’s leading health and wellness companies, and by, Education’s Daily Digest.

Additional resources

You can reach Luis Valentino on

  • Twitter handle: @district_leader
  • LinkedIn: Luis Valentino
  • Facebook page:

"If I'm going to make a difference in the lives of young people, especially poor children, and children of color,  then I'm going to have to be the Superintendent to put those systems in place and make sure that I remove those barriers,  and if there are barriers, why are they." - Danna Diaz, PhD

Episode 010: Danna Diaz, PhD