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School Notes

District promotes Jeff Trader to one Assistant Superintendent role and goes out to hire Socorro Shiels for another

Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) has named Jeff Trader as the Assistant Superintendent, Chief Business Official; and Socorro Shiels as the Assistant Superintendent of Achievement, Innovation and Continuous Improvement.

Trader has been promoted to assistant superintendent. In his 25 years with NMUSD, Trader has served as manager, director, administrative director and chief financial officer. He is also a certified chief business official by the California Association of School Business Officials.

As chief financial officer, Trader has been responsible for the oversight of the district’s financial operations, which include accounting, budgeting, payroll, purchasing, property and liability and attendance accounting. One of Trader’s most gratifying accomplishments as CFO was taking advantage of a favorable interest rate environment to restructure the district’s general obligation bond debt, which saved the taxpayers more than $153 million.

Trader has been lauded for clearly and effectively communicating the district’s financial vision and ensuring the district remains financially stable. As assistant superintendent, chief business official, his role will expand to include oversight for all business services departments including information technology, fiscal, risk, purchasing and warehouse, facilities planning development and design, maintenance and operations and transportation.

“Under his leadership, the business services division has become more efficient and customer-service focused, resulting in better support for all departments and school sites,” said Superintendent Dr. Wesley Smith. “He is a focused professional who is known for always finding a way to make things work.” 

Shiels joins NMUSD and will be responsible for implementing and managing an improvement model aligned to the district’s priorities. She will develop, coordinate and direct a plan that not only supports the district’s vision while promoting inclusion for all, but also responds to the diversity of students, staff and the community, and craft a comprehensive strategy that enables district leaders to continuously improve district programs and outcomes. Through the use of evaluative findings, including student data, she and her team will address gaps in achievement, access, opportunities and wellness. 

Known as a service-oriented leader, Shiels has extensive management and educational leadership experience. Prior to serving as the diversity, inclusion, and equal employment officer for the City of Santa Rosa, she was the superintendent of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, developing a systemic strategic plan to address student academic success, community engagement and system cohesion. As the director of education at the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, Shiels led a large-scale statewide movement of continuous improvement with county offices of education and local school districts. She built community support for public education while superintendent of the Santa Rosa City School District, as evidenced by the passage of two school district facility and technology bonds totaling $229 million for elementary and secondary schools.

In her 30-year career, Shiels has served in leadership positions with multiple school districts and county offices of education, and has taught at the University of California, Davis; the University of San Francisco and California State University, Sacramento.

She received her master’s degree in educational leadership from California State University, East Bay and her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Bowdoin College. 

Shiels will join NMUSD on July 1.