Susan Salcido: A Born Leader

A Living Example of 'Be Modest in Speech but Excel in Action'

Superintendent Susan Salcido visits with preschoolers. | Credit: Courtesy

During this difficult and contentious election season, it’s refreshing to see a candidate who enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support throughout Santa Barbara County. Susan Salcido, who is running for reelection as County Superintendent of Schools, is that candidate. She is a living example of the proverb, “Be modest in speech but excel in action.”

During her past five years as Superintendent, Susan’s strong support of schools, children, and families, coupled with her strong leadership skills, have drawn praise from all regions and segments of the community. Descriptive words most heard or read about Susan include skillful, experienced, competent, visionary, analytical, trustworthy, diplomatic, a good listener, and boundless energy.

Susan is a born leader.

Dr. Salcido has also been tested in crisis management to the extreme. In 2017 (the year she took office), she had to navigate the conditions created by the Thomas Fire. Then in 2018 she had to mitigate the tragic impacts of the debris flow. Since 2020 to the present, the COVID -19 pandemic has created one of the largest threats to our schools in our nation’s history. Susan’s priorities remained consistent and focused on children: Keep students safe, keep schools open, and continue to focus on long term excellence.

Dr. Salcido immediately recognized the growing mental health challenges for children and the lack of resources. Working in partnership with County Mental Health, the Santa Barbara Foundation, and local school districts she played a major role in brokering a $4 million grant to place mental health services on school campuses.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino wrote about Dr. Salcido, “Her unflinching proactive leadership during multiple challenges has been crucial to our resilience. I am grateful for her strong and unifying efforts”.  District Attorney Joyce Dudley added, “I’ve felt reassured and heartened to have Superintendent Salcido as a trusted and respected leader at the helm of Santa Barbara County schools.” 

Dr. Salcido reinforces her knowledge of the community by being out there on the front lines. She has visited over 500 classrooms throughout the county, attends school board and service club meetings,  and community events

Susan is homegrown. She attended public schools in Santa Maria and earned two degrees from UCSB. She has worked on the front lines in education in this county for over 26 years as a high school English teacher and coach, a junior high school principal, Deputy Superintendent and Superintendent of the County Education Office. She knows the county and understands regional differences and nuance.  She is trusted and has worked successfully, bringing people together and using diplomacy to resolve issues.

Two Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year award winners say it best.

Michelle Minetti, a first- grade teacher in Guadalupe and Teacher of the Year, said:

“Susan is a pillar of the community and the world of public education.  She is a product of our county school system who received her education and stayed close to her roots to give back and lead our school districts at the county level. Her work ethic embodies her family’s humble beginnings in the Santa Maria Valley.  She is the example that teachers talk to their students about when it comes to hard work and perseverance, making dreams a reality.

Kelly Choi, a teacher in the Santa Barbara school district summed it up this way:

“Dr. Salcido cares deeply for our students’ safety, wellness, and learning. She is honest, caring, trustworthy, and able to make tough decisions, all the while keeping students as the center focus. We can count on Susan for bold action and courageous leadership. Susan Salcido’s motivation is pure: It’s for students.”

Bill Cirone is the former County Superintendent Schools.


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