Governor Lamont Announces Appointment of Charlene Russell-Tucker as Acting State Education Commissioner
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he has accepted the recommendation of the Connecticut State Board of Education to appoint Charlene Russell-Tucker to serve as acting commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Education. The board voted Wednesday to recommend Russell-Tucker for the position following the resignation Tuesday of Miguel Cardona, who was confirmed earlier this week by the U.S. Senate to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.
Russell-Tucker has more than 20 years of experience as a performance-driven and visionary education leader and most recently served as deputy commissioner of the state agency, which she will lead on an interim basis until a permanent appointment is made. As deputy commissioner, she has been responsible for overseeing educational supports and wellness priorities.
“The strength of Connecticut’s future is dependent upon the strength of our schools today, and that is why our administration has set such strong goals when it comes to improving outcomes for our next generation so they are prepared to fill jobs that lead them through successful careers,” Governor Lamont said. “An educator herself, Charlene has a lot of experience working with school districts across Connecticut, which is why I believe her appointment to this position will seamlessly aid the state’s education goals during this transition period. I appreciate her willingness to take on this leadership role.”
“In order to fulfill our promise of equity and excellence for every student, we must provide for both the academic and non-academic supports they need to show up happy, healthy and ready to learn,” State Board of Education Chair Allan Taylor and Vice Chair Estela Lopez said in a joint statement. “A well-respected national influencer on education policy, we can think of no one more qualified to take the reins of the agency than Charlene Russell-Tucker who has done so much to put the spotlight on Connecticut in terms of spearheading the improvement of culture and climate and social emotional learning in our schools. Charlene possesses the track record, experience and equity lens necessary to direct the delivery of high quality, accessible educational experiences, services and programs that provide the foundations for positive school and life outcomes for all students.”
“I am humbled and grateful to Governor Lamont and the State Board of Education for placing their confidence in me to serve Connecticut’s students, families, and educators in this role,” Acting Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “I will use this opportunity to continue to advance the work of the agency and our educational partners to ensure a seamless transition once a permanent commissioner is named.”
Throughout her career, Russell-Tucker has passionately supported family and community engagement in education and led school attendance and school discipline initiatives with a strong focus on equity and diversity. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she has been a crucial voice in supporting student attendance and engagement as schools have conducted hybrid or remote learning. Additionally, she has spearheaded the collaboration efforts with the Connecticut Department of Public Health to ensure provision of technical assistance and guidance development for a successful, healthy, and safe school year.
Prior to her appointment as deputy commissioner in November 2019, Russell-Tucker served as chief operating officer and division chief for the State Department of Education’s Office of Student Supports and Organizational Effectiveness. She also served as associate commissioner of education and bureau chief at the agency, overseeing a portfolio of programs and services that included student health, family and community engagement, nutrition and safety, magnet and charter schools, adult education, and special education.
Russell-Tucker is active with a number of state and national committees, including her previous service as co-chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Committee on Children Strategic Action Group on Chronic Absence, and has served as expert panel member on committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She was also past president of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a member of the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has over 15 years of teaching experience, having served as an adjunct faculty member at Albertus Magnus College School of New Dimensions.
In 2015, Russell-Tucker was named to the inaugural class of 100 Women of Color in Connecticut. In 2018, she was welcomed to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s Council of Champions. Recognizing mentoring relationships are key to maintaining students’ connection to school, Russell-Tucker has endeavored to uphold mentoring as an intervention in combating chronic absenteeism in schools and for these efforts was named MENTOR National’s 2021 Excellence in Mentoring Honoree in State and Local Public Service.
Now that an acting commissioner has been named, Governor Lamont and the State Board of Education will work together in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes to identify a permanent education commissioner.