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Communities In Schools Names Dale Erquiaga President and CEO

New Leader of CIS Brings Deep Experience in Education, Public Policy & Communications

By Communities In Schools Sept. 26, 2016

The Communities In Schools (CIS) National Board announced today that Dale Erquiaga has been named president and chief executive officer following a nationwide search for the new leader of the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization. Erquiaga joins CIS from the office of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, where he most recently served as chief strategy officer.

“Dale Erquiaga is one of the country’s brightest minds in terms of leveraging public policy to strengthen K-12 education and I’m thrilled to welcome him as the next leader of Communities In Schools,” said CIS National Board Chairman Elaine Wynn. “Dale brought together parents, teachers, policymakers and civic leaders to help transform the landscape of public education in Nevada. That is the type of visionary leadership that he will bring to CIS as we seek to improve the academic and life outcomes for our nation’s most disenfranchised students.” 

Erquiaga will assume the role of president and CEO of Communities In Schools on Nov. 1 and will lead a network of 161 independent affiliates who work to keep at-risk students in school and on a path to graduation. CIS affiliates operate in more than 2,300 schools and utilize 3,800 trained site coordinators and professional staffers to help meet the non-academic needs of students so they can focus on learning.  

Prior to assuming the role of chief strategy officer, Erquiaga served as Nevada’s state superintendent of public instruction. During his tenure, he designed and led advocacy efforts for Governor Sandoval’s sweeping K-12 education reform, including the first revision to Nevada’s school funding formula in nearly 50 years. He consistently championed policies and programs designed to assist English language learners and children in poverty, including integrated student services and expanded initiatives for college and career readiness.

 “I am grateful to join Communities In Schools at a time when it is at the strongest point in its 40-year history and positioned for unprecedented growth and impact,” said Erquiaga.  “I look forward to partnering with the CIS Board, staff, our network of valuable affiliates, as well as thousands of our volunteers, school partners, institutional funders and individual supporters to ensure that more of our nation’s children stay in school and achieve in life. At a time when federal law has explicitly recognized the importance of Integrated Student Supports, I am committed to working hard to bring those vital supports to every student in need across America.” 

The grandson of Spanish Basque immigrants to America, Erquiaga has a long career in public service and marketing communications. He has been active on the board of several civic, humanitarian and arts organizations including the University of Nevada’s Center for Basque Studies and Nevada Humanities. Erquiaga is also a member of the board of WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development and service agency focused on promoting excellence and equity in education, and previously served as chairman of the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF). He holds a master’s degree in leadership from Grand Canyon University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Erquiaga joins Communities In Schools at a pivotal time in the history of the organization:

  • Due to our successful advocacy efforts on behalf of underserved students, the CIS unique model of services - Integrated Student Supports - is now written into The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). CIS state offices and affiliates are now mobilizing across the country to educate state and local officials on how this federal legislation can be used to help bring Integrated Student Supports into more schools to serve students in need.

  • The organization recently designated 10 of its affiliates as CIS Growth & Impact Communities. Those affiliates will be used as research centers to help pilot new initiatives and will receive strategic investments to expand to as many as 10 more schools throughout their communities.

  • CIS, a leader in the field of Integrated Student Supports, will soon complete its latest evaluation that will continue to build the evidence base for the CIS model.

  • As the result of a seven-year, network-wide change in operations designed to drive quality implementation of the CIS model at scale, CIS has achieved greater impact for schools and students. With a smaller network – 24 percent fewer affiliates – the organization currently serves 20 percent more students and helps 35 percent more students graduate than during the baseline year.

  • In 2017, CIS will mark its 40th anniversary and celebrate its impact as the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization. To coincide with the anniversary, CIS will launch a new marketing campaign designed to inspire new and existing supporters to join the movement to help more students stay in school and achieve in life.


To view Dale Erquiaga's bio, click here

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About Communities In Schools

Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to empowering at-risk students to stay in school and on a path to a brighter future. Working directly inside more than 2,300 schools across the country, we connect kids to caring adults and community resources designed to help them succeed. We do whatever it takes to ensure that all kids—regardless of the challenges they may face—have what they need to realize their potential.