Dr. Gabriella Durán Blakey has been selected as the next superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools, New Mexico’s largest school district.
Durán Blakey’s selection is the culmination of a four-month search process launched by the APS board.
“This is not a decision that any of us took lightly,” Board President Danielle Gonales said. “We believe this is the most consequential decision we’re making this year.”
The APS board made the unanimous decision to appoint Durán Blakey following a nationwide search that attracted two dozen applicants. Blakey is poised to lead the district as it works to improve academic outcomes for its 68,000 students.
Durán Blakey will be paid $295,000 per year.
“I want to share my appreciation for the due diligence [the board of education] has shown during this process,” board member Josefina Dominguez said. “We had frank, difficult conversations. But, they were always respectful – I want to stress that. The integrity of this process was informed by the integrity of this board. I’m proud of it – I’m proud of all of us.”
Who is Durán Blakey?
Durán Blakey, a native of Albuquerque who attended local schools, has more than two decades of service to APS, having worked in various roles, including teacher, assistant principal, principal, and associate superintendent.
In her new role as superintendent, Durán Blakey will oversee the daily operations of more than 140 schools, and lead 12,000 employees.
She will take over the position from Superintendent Scott Elder, whose contract expires on June 30.
Durán Blakey holds a Doctorate of Education and a Master of Arts in educational leadership from the University of New Mexico, as well as a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from New Mexico State University.
Beyond her educational career, she is an accomplished violinist and actively participates in community organizations such as the Symphony Orchestra of Albuquerque, Explora Children’s Science Museum, United Way of Central New Mexico, and the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program.
“I think the biggest thing is to continue the road that we have worked so hard on over the past year,” Durán Blakey said in response to a question about what she plans on doing when she takes over. “I really do believe that the foundation of the work is set forward for us and that we have a committed team with the Superintendent and the board and the administration to get things moving with the roadmap that we have in front of us.”
Addressing the people of Albuquerque, Durán Blakey said: “I believe in you. Our community is going to do great things and you can do great things and I want our children and my Hispanic brothers and sisters to know that we’re going to accomplish things together.”
Durán Blakey signed her contract shortly after the board vote.
It includes a $295,000 salary and will begin July 1 – her first day as superintendent. The contract allows Durán Blakey to have a car the district will be responsible for maintaining, including gasoline and regular maintenance. The contract allows for no more than $200 a month in reimbursements, so long as those expenses are relevant to the job.
There will be regular performance reviews by the school board, and one personal evaluation on how she is handling the goals and guardrails.
The contract calls for Gonzales and Durán Blakey to meet on August 1 to discuss and agree upon the process and procedures of their relationship – how they will work and communicate with each other.
Durán Blakey’s contract will expire June 30, 2026.
The selection process involved community forums with more than 3,000 views on YouTube, and written comments from over 450 people during the finalist interviews. More than 7,000 survey participants and numerous outreach sessions contributed to the ultimate decision.
“Our choice is a reflection of what you told us. We heard over and over again that our next superintendent should be someone who believes that all students can learn and succeed, wants to improve students outcomes, and knows how to do it,” Gonzales said. “You wanted someone ready to make real change. That person is Dr. Gabriella Durán Blakey.”