Thornton appoints new Cabinet members

Incoming Baltimore schools superintendent Gregory Thornton is already shaking up the ranks at city school headquarters, naming three key Cabinet heads who will start with him on July 1.

The city school board approved in a special meeting Tuesday the appointment of new chiefs of staff, academics and human capital.


Thornton's current chief of staff, Naomi Gubernick, will come with him to Baltimore. In Milwaukee, Gubernick is known as the woman who runs the nuts and bolts of the system from behind the scenes.

Currently Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, who was brought here by former schools chief Andres Alonso to oversee the district's Office of Accountability and Achievement in 2012, serves as interim chief of staff to Interim CEO Tisha Edwards. Edwards' contract ends on June 30.


Bell-Ellwanger will return to the Office of Accountability and Achievement.

Linda Chen, currently deputy chief academic officer in the Boston public school system, will take the helm of Baltimore's academic office under Thornton.

Currently Maria Navarro, who served as deputy chief academic officer to former CAO Sonja Santelises -- who was also brought here by Alonso, but left her post at the beginning of the school year -- is serving in the interim. Navarro will also go back to her position, officials said.

And lastly, Thornton has tapped a Baltimore County official to lead the district's long-troubled human capital office. Lisa Grillo, currently chief human resources officer in Baltimore County, will take on the role in the city come July.

Kimberly Lewis, who long ran the district's special education office, took over the human capital office in 2011.

In a statement, Thornton thanked the board for supporting his recommendations, and said he  looked forward to "assembling a team of individuals with a variety of experiences from within BCPS and the larger educational community."

"Each of these new hires brings with them a wealth of experience in their discipline and a desire to improve educational outcomes for the children of Baltimore," Thornton said. "I look forward to getting started and to introducing these new individuals to our community."