David Salerno Owens, Director of Equity & Strategic Initiatives
“I’ve lived and worked in such varied places,” said David Salerno Owens, when he was promoted to Director of Equity and Strategic Initiatives for the District. “It gives me a wide perspective on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity. While I have focused my career on helping students broaden their skills to be successful, I look forward to facilitating conversations across the district and community.”
On July 1, 2018, Salerno Owens stepped into the newly created position for the District.
“For the past three years, David has been an integral part of our success in improving the graduation rate at Lakeridge High School from 88% to 95%,” said incoming Superintendent Michael Musick. “We are excited to promote from within. His positive rapport with students, teachers, and administrators is already in place, and his widely varied background is an asset to our school community.”
In his former position as Response to Intervention Coordinator and Freshman Transition Specialist at Lakeridge High School, Salerno Owens supported academically struggling students by helping them learn academic skills, develop better study habits, and navigate secondary-level academics. He worked with students who have anxiety and those students who deal with emotional or social issues.
His reputation as a proponent for student achievement made him a natural candidate for the position according to his previous boss, Jennifer Schiele, Assistant Superintendent of schools. “I love watching David with our students. They feel that David is someone within the school community who they know, trust, and who will act as an advocate for them. He knows his students on many levels, he spends the time learning about their strengths and needs along with their interests, fears, and hopes. He truly puts himself in the shoes of our students and walks alongside them being fair, empathetic and encouraging.
“David is an amazing advocate for all students and families. He knows parents have high hopes, valid concerns and great expectations for their children and he does not shy away from the difficult conversations. He helps parents understand academic goals and why it is important to develop their children's confidence for success. He works with parents to help advocate for all of our students and he is known for going the extra mile to make sure the students are in the classroom where the learning happens,” said Schiele.
Salerno Owens leads the development and implementation of the proactive diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, which support the district's three-year strategic plan. He leads the development of a district-wide vision and effective strategy that champions the importance and value of a diverse and inclusive school environment. In the process, he invites staff, students, and the community at both the district and local school levels, to engage a wide range of stakeholders, and build a welcoming and inclusive culture in Lake Oswego schools. In addition, he will assess potential barriers and develop strategies focused on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce.
Before joining LOSD, Salerno Owens was a GEAR UP Academic Advocate for Portland Public Schools for nearly three years. In the role of academic support advisor, he helped 7th and 8th-grade students master Algebra and CORE standards curriculum. He also advised students on higher education opportunities through on-site visits, academic monitoring, and building their confidence to pursue higher education.
In addition to his academically focused career choices, Salerno Owens has worked with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon providing education and outreach for mortgage lending to expose unfair and discriminatory practices; with Mirabella providing food service management for a premier retirement home, and with UCLA UniCamp providing program management, training, and supervision of more than 40 camp counselors during week-long camping sessions for inner-city youth.
“Throughout my career, I have empowered adults and students to take initiative to strengthen our communities in ways that honor and celebrate each other,” said Salerno Owens. “By building community understanding through empowering our students, we will be able to build trust between students and adults, students and students, and the community and the district. Our work will include creating forums for conversations around restorative practices, social justice, and facilitating a process of learning about other cultures.”
Salerno Owens holds a master’s degree in Education/School Counseling and Guidance Services from Lewis and Clark College and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government from Portland State University. He is married to Laura Salerno Owens. They have two children and live in Portland.