Excerpt from The Washington Post by Michael Alison Chandler.
Padua alumna Lisa Ruda ’87 has served others by working in public education for two decades.
She started her career as a lawyer with a degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Early in her practice, she represented Cleveland’s public schools in a major desegregation case. By 28, she was recruited to become chief counsel for the school district. She was promoted to chief of staff, a post she held for six years, and she served as the interim chief executive.
In 2007, she joined the administration in Washington, D.C. Ruda spent eight years as deputy chancellor for operations. She oversaw a growing portfolio that included school operations, school security, school budgets, enrollment projections, general counsel, facilities and interagency relations. She handled decisions about snow days, emergency response and the contentious process of closing three dozen schools.
Ruda has had a significant impact on the schools. “DCPS would not be where we are today if it were not for the tremendous work that Lisa has contributed over the last eight years,” said Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
Ruda said she has loved her time with the District’s public school system. In an interview with The Washington Post, she said she came to a school district in crisis, but she says she is leaving a more stable organization. “It’s a new phase of the work,” she said. “We are not always going to operate by crisis management.”
Maury Elementary School principal Carolyne Albert-Garvey, who started with D.C. Public Schools in 2004, said the processes of planning for the next school year and projecting enrollment improved dramatically under Ruda, and so had the level of support principals receive. “Lisa always responded to every e-mail,” she said.
Looking back on her tenure, Ruda said she is most proud that the school system’s enrollment has started to rebound, with three consecutive years of increases, a sign of progress that she expects will continue.
“That hasn’t happened in 47 years,” she said.