Earlier this spring, WSSDA’s Jessica Vavrus was approached by fellow education professionals and encouraged to apply for the position of executive director of OSPI/AESD network initiatives. As the leader of some of the earliest efforts to forge coordination between the two organizations years ago, Vavrus emerged the successful candidate to succeed Dr. Gene Sharratt, who has announced his retirement. Vavrus will resign from WSSDA effective August 1.
Before her work at WSSDA, Vavrus spent almost 15 years serving in a variety of leadership roles at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). One of those roles was as the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. In that role, Vavrus connected the work of OSPI with efforts in each of the nine regional Educational Service Districts (ESDs) to develop an equitable and accessible statewide delivery system to support school districts and educators in providing instruction and other important services through the AESD. This work culminated significantly between 2010 and 2015 as part of a statewide Coordinated Services Agreement and partnership between the AESD and OSPI. Fast-forward to the present and Vavrus’ new role will bring her full-circle, squarely fitting with her strengths and commitment to supporting K-12 education across the state.
“We could not be more proud of Jessica and the leadership that she has provided not only to WSSDA, but to the entire K-12 System,” commented Tim Garchow, executive director of WSSDA. “We all knew that a leader of Jessica’s caliber would someday be asked to serve in a top position. We are very happy for her and excited about the opportunities her transition will afford our system as a whole.”
The process to find a new director of government relations for WSSDA is already underway. A job posting will be placed on the WSSDA careers page tomorrow. WSSDA staff will take full advantage of Vavrus’ continued presence between now and August. In particular, she will help with preparations for WSSDA’s annual Legislative Assembly as well as ensuring a smooth transition between herself and her successor.
“Jessica has been instrumental in helping us form what we’ve been calling ‘WSSDA 2.0.’” said Garchow. “Her work internally with WSSDA staff, externally with WSSDA’s board of directors and Legislative Committee plus the broader WSSDA membership has been invaluable. She has been essential in cultivating relationships with sister organizations such as the SBE, WASA and OSPI. And of course, her attention to nurturing healthy relationships with members of the Legislature has carried WSSDA to new heights. Her successor will have big shoes to fill, but a strong WSSDA team to provide support.”