2024 Breakthrough Leadership Institute

Guest Speaker

Dr. Carl Cohn

Award-winning Retired Superintendent; Senior Research Fellow; Clinical Professor

Carl A. Cohn is a professor emeritus in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Cohn’s distinguished career in education has spanned more than 30 years. Throughout this time, he has worked in a variety of educational capacities, including teacher, counselor, professor, superintendent and federal court monitor. Earning his EdD in Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, Cohn has personified the valuable role of a research practitioner, expanding the field of education in a variety of ways.

Cohn played a pivotal role during his career in the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD). Focusing on urban affairs and educational policy, he served as an administrative coordinator, director of attendance, and superintendent from 1992 to 2002. In 2000, Cohn was America’s longest-serving urban superintendent, and during this tenure he made the school district a model for high academic standards and accountability. During his tenure as superintendent, the LBUSD achieved record attendance, the lowest rate of suspension in a decade, decreases in student failure and dropout rates, and an increase in the number of students taking college preparatory classes.

Through exemplifying this commitment to leadership and improved student achievement, he won the McGraw Prize in 2002 and the district won the Broad Prize in 2003. In 2002, Cohn served as clinical professor for the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California and went on to become an independent court monitor for the Los Angeles Federal District Court.

From 2005 to 2007, Cohn served as the superintendent of San Diego Unified School District and recently served as a leader in residence at the College of Education at San Diego State University before joining the Claremont Graduate University faculty.

Further using his expertise, Cohn has worked as a faculty advisor for both the Broad Superintendents Academy and the Harvard Urban Superintendents Program. He serves on the boards of the American College Testing, Inc. (ACT), the Freedom Writers Foundation, the Western Governors University and EdSource.

Among his many publications and research projects, Cohn co-edited the 2004 Teachers College Press publication, Partnering to Lead Educational Renewal: High Quality