SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Charlie Baker as appointed Springfield business leader Tricia Canavan to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“I think Massachusetts should be very proud of the way we educate our children and our level of excellence,” Canavan said Wednesday. “That said, there is a significant achievement gap, particularly among students of diverse backgrounds, in comparison to some of their peers.”
“We have to work to improve that. These are statewide issues, but I also appreciate the opportunity to bring a Western Massachusetts perspective to the board. I’m very proud of this region,” she said.
Canavan and Michael Moriarty of Holyoke give Western Massachusetts two members on the 11-member board. Moriarty served for 13 years on the Holyoke School Committee, helped form the Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative, has served as an attorney and was named executive director of OneHolyoke Community Development Corp. and 2013.
“We have two — we’re small but mighty,” Canavan said, chuckling.
“I hope I can amplify the work of (the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) to help make progress on these very important issues, including narrowing the achievement gap,” Canavan said.
Canavan has taught at the community college and high school level with a focus on teaching English as a second language. She taught at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, and in Tampico, Mexico, and worked with faculty at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
She is CEO of Tech Foundry, an economic development nonprofit connecting underserved and underrepresented adults to training and placement in the information technology sector. She is the former president of United Personnel Services, which was bought by Masis Staff Solutions of Worcester last year.
Canavan has worked with education, workforce development and community projects in the Springfield area for many years, including serving as the co-chair of Springfield Business Leaders for Education. She was also a member of the “Portrait of a Graduate” strategic planning initiative for Springfield Public Schools.
She chairs the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council and serves on the boards of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, MassHire Hampden County and the Springfield Public Forum.
Canavan has a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and conducted graduate studies in American history at Boston University.
She said the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership is an example of creative strategies that could benefit the state as a whole. The Empowerment Zone is a collaboration with shared responsibilities by administrators, faculty and the state in the operation of several Springfield public schools.
“It’s an example of innovative solutions. These are challenging situations facing educators, but with new and different approaches can come great opportunities,” Canavan said.
Baker also appointed Farzana Mohamed, an author and management consultant from the Boston area, to the education board.
Mohamed is the author of “How to Negotiate Your First Job,” which aims to help college graduates and young professionals negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. She is a managing partner at Process Improvement LLC, which advises global clients on process improvement, change management, employee engagement and corporate governance.
“Both Ms. Canavan and Ms. Mohamed brings a unique combination of management expertise and experience in the education sector that will benefit the Commonwealth’s schools and the students they serve. We are grateful for their commitment to help create strong educational starts for children and families in schools throughout Massachusetts,” Baker said.
“Ms. Canavan and Ms. Mohamed have developed strong community partnerships and have engaged businesses to help strengthen educational progress in their communities,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a statement. “We are very pleased they will now bring their experience and commitment to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.”
Canavan and Mohamed replace board members Amanda Fernandez and James Morton, who completed their five-year terms on June 30.
“James and Amanda have been outstanding contributors to our work by providing hands-on leadership across a range of critical policy issues, and more importantly they always put the interests of children and equity front and center, for which I am truly grateful. We welcome Tricia and Farzana to the Board and look forward to working with them,” Education Secretary James Peyser said.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet Aug. 15 at noon at its headquarters in Malden.