Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D., is a retired superintendent who successfully served in Pomona, Santa Ana, and Inglewood in California. As superintendent, she oversaw the educational programs and operations of her school districts. Dr. Meléndez brings a wealth of experience from her 38-year career in education, from being a bilingual first-grade teacher in Montebello Unified School District to being the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education in the Obama Administration. The American Association of School Administrators named her the California Superintendent of the Year in 2009.
Prior to her position in Inglewood, Dr. Meléndez served as the chief executive officer in the Office of Educational Services for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). As chief executive officer, Dr. Meléndez was responsible for the administrative oversight of multiple educational and business services for the more than 1,000 schools of LAUSD. In Los Angeles she also served as the senior education advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
As U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, Dr. Meléndez was the principal advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. While there, she helped to develop the Blueprint for Reform and led the administration of $13 billion in grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
She earned a B.A. cum laude from UCLA, a Ph.D. from USC’s Rossier School of Education, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Pepperdine University. Dr. Meléndez’s recognitions include the top 2012 Alumni Merit Award from the USC Alumni Association, the 2011 National Hispanic Woman of the Year from the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, and the 2010 Woman of the Year of Hispanic Business Magazine. Dr. Meléndez currently sits on the Getty Board of Trustees and is Trustee Emerita of the California State University Board of Trustees. She is married to Otto Santa Ana, a retired UCLA professor. They reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico.