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COSA Board of Directors Announces Dr. Krista Parent As Next Executive Director

The COSA Board of Directors is pleased to announce Dr. Krista Parent as the next COSA Executive Director, effective July 1, 2024. This appointment concludes a six-month search process led by Human Capital Enterprises, a strategic talent acquisition firm with Northwest roots that focuses on public education and nonprofit leadership searches. Their search involved multiple listening sessions with key constituents in Oregon.

“Krista Parent's background in leadership and education, along with her commitment to student success, makes her a good fit for the COSA Executive Director role. Her passion for empowering others and fostering the work of equity, will undoubtedly continue to lead COSA in the right direction,” said LaShawanta Spears, COSA President. Spears went on to say that Parent embodies her favorite quote by Simon Sinek, "Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge."

Parent has dedicated her career to public education. Prior to joining COSA, she held school-level and central office administrator roles and served nearly 20 as superintendent in Oregon. She knows the role of school leaders and the challenges schools and districts face. Parent has been the recipient of several awards for her outstanding leadership on the local and national level. Most notably, she was named the Oregon and the National Superintendent of the Year in 2007, the National Women in Leadership AASA award in 2011, and the 2015 NASS Finalist for Superintendent of the Year.

Helping leaders develop and grow is a hallmark of Parent’s work.  Since joining COSA in 2018, she has elevated the professional learning opportunities for administrators across the state, grown the professional network groups within COSA to serve leaders in specific areas, such as aspiring and new superintendents, women, and central office leaders, and was critical in creating and supporting affinity spaces for leaders who identify with historically underrepresented populations in educational leadership.  Her deep knowledge of Oregon schools and school systems is an asset as COSA continues to be a resource for educational leaders across the state.

Additionally, Parent has been an adjunct professor for administrator licensure and degree programs with COSA for more than 10 years and was an integral part of bringing COSA’s licensure and degree programs to a public state university, the University of Oregon, where she directs the program. Through her leadership, over 500 leaders have obtained their administrative licenses in Oregon.  She coaches, mentors, and supports school district leaders across the state and has a strong presence in supporting  the diversification of the workforce in Oregon. Since 2020, Krista has served as a governor’s appointee for the Oregon Commission for Women and now serves as the current chair.

“It has been an honor for me to serve as COSA’s Executive Director these past 13 years, and it gives me great comfort to know that the organization I love will move forward with an exceptional leader like
Krista,” said Craig Hawkins, COSA Executive Director.  “I applaud the Board’s selection and have absolute faith that COSA members will be extremely well served by Krista and the COSA team in the years ahead.”

Hawkins, the current COSA Executive Director, is concluding a 13-year tenure in his role.  During his tenure, COSA established what has become Oregon’s largest administrator licensure and degree program, created the COSA Equity Board, increased membership by more than 50 percent, and advocated successfully for legislation and funding that supports Oregon’s students (including the Student Success Act), inclusive of those from historically underserved populations. Hawkins led COSA through a recession and a global pandemic, and members say they could rely on him to provide calm, thoughtful, and collaborative paths forward.

Hawkins and Parent are working on a transition plan through the spring and will plan for Parent to officially assume her new role no later than July 1, 2024.

“I am so honored and humbled to be selected as the next Executive Director of COSA,“ said Parent. “There are many challenges ahead in education, and the leadership in this state is called upon to tackle these challenges so that all kids can thrive. I am eager to begin working alongside Oregon’s K-12 leaders and partners to face these challenges.”