Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, PhD, is the Chief Executive Officer in the Office of Educational Services for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). LAUSD is the nation's second-largest school system, serving more than 640,000 K-12 students at more than 1,000 schools and public charter schools.
In March 2014, Dr. Meléndez joined the Los Angeles Unified School District as a senior administrator for "Beyond the Bell," a division that oversees after-school programs, among other functions. Now as the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Meléndez is responsible for the administrative oversight of multiple educational and business services for the over 1,000 schools of LAUSD, including Food Services, Procurement, School Operations, Student Health and Human Services, Transportation, Office of Environmental Health and Safety, as well as "Beyond the Bell."
Dr. Meléndez began her career as a bilingual first grade teacher and rose to serve as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. As principal advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, she helped to develop the Blueprint for Reform and led the office as it administered billions of dollars in grant funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Immediately before joining LAUSD, she was Senior Education Advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Dr. Meléndez has also served as superintendent of two California school districts, Santa Ana Unified and Pomona Unified Schools. The American Association of School Administrators named her the California Superintendent of the Year in 2009.
She earned a BA cum laude from UCLA, a PhD from USC's Rossier School of Education, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Pepperdine University. Dr. Meléndez's recognitions include an Alumni Merit Award from the USC Alumni Association (2012), the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation's 2011 National Hispanic Woman, American Association of School Administrators, California State Superintendent of the Year (2009) and Hispanic Business Magazine's 2010 Woman of the Year. She is married to Otto Santa Ana, an author and professor in the Department of Chicano Studies at UCLA.