Sonoma County Office of Education

Diann Kitamura Joining Sonoma County Office of Education to Oversee Realignment

05/16/2023 -

Diann KitamuraFormer Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Dr. Diann Kitamura will be joining the Sonoma County Office of Education for the 2023-24 school year as Interim Deputy Superintendent in charge of Educational Support Services.

Kitamura, who led Sonoma County’s largest school district through the 2017 firestorm and the first three semesters of the COVID-19 pandemic, will oversee a realignment of Educational Support Services. The department, which supports curriculum, instruction, district planning, and teacher and administrator professional development, is currently led by Dr. Jennie Snyder, who plans to retire next school year.

As part of an expansion of the department, Kitamura and a future assistant superintendent hire will jointly administer SCOE’s Alternative Education program, credentialing programs at the North Coast School of Education, and the Behavioral Health team that supports student and staff wellness.

The realignment is part of an effort by Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Amie R. Carter to streamline SCOE’s operations and merge parallel efforts within the agency so that they are overseen by a single leadership team.

“There is no one I trust more to enact my vision for SCOE’s Educational Support Services department than Diann,” Carter said. “Her familiarity with Sonoma County’s schools and students will allow her to get up to speed quickly, and I expect she will aggressively lead on equity as we recalibrate our services to align with our districts’ and students’ evolving needs.”

Kitamura served as superintendent of Santa Rosa City Schools from February 2016 to July 2021 and has worked in public education for 40 years. Since leaving Santa Rosa City Schools, she has continued working as a lecturer in the Leaders for Equity and Democracy program at UC Berkeley and leadership efforts at multiple statewide organizations representing superintendents and educational leaders of color.

Kitamura first became a teacher because of her passionate belief that all children should have access to a quality education and an opportunity to learn and grow into purposeful and thoughtful individuals. She was inspired by her undocumented and immigrant grandparents who traveled to the United States to ensure the same for her. Her mother was forcibly relocated, along with her parents and four siblings, during World War II to the Amache internment camp for Japanese American citizens. Kitamura’s decision to become a public educator and advocate for students, staff, and families who are Black, Indigenous or people of color was greatly influenced by the racism and oppression her mother endured when she reentered public school.

“When Dr. Carter shared her plans for restructuring SCOE, I couldn't help but be excited about the prospect of building infrastructure and systems to support districts and serve students,” Kitamura said. “Creating equity-centered support for Sonoma County schools is an opportunity for systems change I could not pass up.”

Jennie SnyderKitamura joins SCOE as Snyder plans to retire in February. Snyder will spend the fall continuing work on statewide initiatives with the Curricular and Improvement Support Committee of the California County Superintendents, for which she serves as committee chair. She will continue to support SCOE’s geographic area partners and conduct reviews of school districts’ educational plans as well as work with Dr. Kitamura to facilitate a smooth reorganization of Educational Support Services.

“When Jennie first told me of her plans to retire, I knew I would face the tall order of replacing an experienced leader whose goals for SCOE and our students align strongly with my own,” Carter said. “I am grateful for her service to our educators and students and for her support on this transition plan.”

Snyder joined SCOE in August 2016 after six years as superintendent of the Piner-Olivet Union School District, where she previously served as principal at Schaefer Elementary when it was recognized as a California Distinguished School in 2010. She oversaw ESS at a time when the California Department of Education tasked county offices of education with a greater level of support for districts. She has led efforts to broaden the region’s capacity to support school districts by serving as a geographic lead helping to ensure county offices in Marin, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino counties are prepared to support their school districts.

"I am proud to have served with such a student-focused and dedicated team at SCOE,” Snyder said. “I look forward to working with Dr. Kitamura to facilitate a smooth transition on behalf of our students."