State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Manufou Liaiga-Anoa’i as Co-Chair of his statewide Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative. She will partner with Co-Chair Ryan Smith to lead work aligning with the initiative’s goals, which include addressing ways to close the achievement gap and improving educational outcomes for all California public education students.
“Manufou is a strong public servant and advocate for women, children, and all students,” said Thurmond. “I know that she will bring a unique voice and strong leadership to the Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative, which is one of the top priorities of my office.”
Thurmond launched his Closing the Achievement Gap initiative with a forum in February focusing on schools throughout the state that have shown success in closing the gap for African Americans and other students of color. He followed that up with a second forum in April to address recruitment and retention of teachers of color. Appointing Liaiga-Anoa’i and Smith as Co-Chairs of the initiative is the next step in assuring that these efforts continue with the highest priority and level of expertise.
Liaiga-Anoa’i is currently the Health and Nutrition Services Manager for the Institute for Human and Social Development, which administers Head Start and Early Head Start, early childhood education sites throughout San Mateo County. She is the first Samoan Pacific Islander to serve on the Jefferson Elementary School District Board in Daly City, and she also serves on the San Mateo County Commission on the Status of Women.
A dedicated social justice advocate, Liaiga-Anoa’i continues to be involved in a variety of movements and causes locally and globally. She founded Pacific Islander Community Partnership, a Bay Area non-profit that engages Pacific Islanders in advocacy, education, and empowerment. She created Camp Unity, a free Pacific Islander summer enrichment program to provide a quality summer option for low-income families in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has served more than 3,000 youth to date. This all-volunteer camp has been recognized by President Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
Her global outreach includes partnerships with One Global Family Foundation to assist in eradicating domestic and child abuse in the Pacific Islands, and raising readers through collaborations with Books for the Barrios. Through these initiatives, children in the South Pacific have received assistance through in-kind donations of books, school supplies, new clothes, toiletries, and non-perishable foods.