Emanuel said his appointments were made on a "collaborative basis" with Brizard.
Of all the picks, most educators know the least about Noemi Donoso, who was named chief education officer, a significant role that will shape education policy within the city and likely advance the national reform agenda. Donoso is director of the Denver Public Schools' Office of School Reform and Innovation, which oversees the district's charter schools and innovative programs.
For chief operating officer, a position that overlooks district facilities, food services and technology, Emanuel tapped Tim Cawley, who is the managing director of finance and administration at the Academy for Urban School Leadership. The group is a network of turnaround schools that has emerged under Mayor Richard Daley as one way to reform failing schools. Cawley came to the education world after a 30-year business career.
Brizard's new chief of staff will be Andrea Saenz, who comes from the U.S. Department of Education, where she serves as special assistant to the assistant secretary of vocational and adult education. She has worked on data-driven performance management for Philadelphia public schools, which will likely concern critics of former schools CEO Ron Huberman's data-driven performance management strategies.
"It's kind of like a president announcing his Cabinet," said Barbara Radner, DePaul University's director of the Center for Urban Education, adding that she understands now why it took time for Emanuel to make the CPS announcements. "It's not 'where's the CEO?' It's 'what's the big picture?' He's filled in the executive suite, and no one's ever done that before."
Donoso's new job is the second-highest position at CPS. She had been with the Denver district just since June, but in an email sent out by Denver's schools superintendent Monday, Donoso said she felt fortunate to be part of "some of the most progressive reforms in the country" in Denver.
Tim Knowles, director of the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute, who sat on Emanuel's transition team, said Donoso's appointment signals a "significant shift" within CPS, which in the past chose seconds-in-command from the realm of traditional public schools.
"I foresee they're going to have a strong charter infrastructure within CPS," Knowles said. "This is not someone who has come out of traditional public schools. This is someone who is about innovation, how do you teach kids differently and let's be sure the right stuff is going on in schools and let's bring in some new stuff."
Tribune reporter Kristen Mack contributed.