© 2023 Association of California School Administrators
Chief Business Official for El Segundo USD Kimberlie Linz, seen here at a steel beam topping out ceremony at El Segundo Middle School, works to align the budget to district priorities.
Linz puts funding to work for students
September 18, 2023
ACSA Administrators of the Year graphic.
Name: Kimberlie Linz Award: Business Services Administrator of the Year Title: Chief Business Official, El Segundo Unified School District ACSA highlights: Member since 2010; President, South Bay Chapter, Region 14, 2017-2019; Coordinator of Professional Development, Region 14, 2015-2017.
When Kimberlie Linz came on board as chief business official for El Segundo Unified School District in 2018, she faced declining enrollment in a district of fewer than 4,000 students with a low unduplicated pupil count. Still, Linz worked to sustain the district’s financial stability and establish fiscally conservative principles.
A former middle school principal, Linz is an “educator to the core.” She aligned the budget with the district’s priorities of learning and teaching, and when schools in El Segundo Unified closed in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, classes were able to continue virtually the next Monday. Thanks to a collaborative effort between Linz and the El Segundo leadership team — and Linz’s work to leverage one-time funds — all El Segundo students had a device they could use to access virtual classrooms.
Linz also helped to secure personal protective equipment, furnishings and memorandums of understanding with labor partners in order to return El Segundo Unified primary school students to campus on a hybrid schedule.
“In his best-seller ‘Good to Great,’ Jim Collins refers to getting the right people on the right seats on the bus,” said El Segundo Unified Superintendent Melissa Moore. “Hiring Kim Linz as chief business official in 2018 is a living example of Collins’ assertion.”
What’s your favorite book or quote on leadership? My favorite leadership quote is from Eleanor Roosevelt: “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? The best advice I have ever been given is to lead toward the position you aspire to, not just the one you are in.
What’s your best strategy for work-life balance? My best strategy for work-life balance was shared by a mentor. I keep work at work and do not bring it home. That might mean a late night at the office or coming in on a weekend, but that separation allows me to be fully present when I am home.
What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? A) Keep work at work and do not bring it home; B) Surround yourself with smart, talented people and trust them to do the work you hired them to do; and C) Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I love the outdoors and am always looking for new adventures that force me to conquer my fears.
What made you want to become a school administrator? To create a safe learning environment where student voices are elevated, students’ stories are valued as an important part of the curriculum, and success is collaboratively defined based on individual student paths.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to get where you are? Moving from middle school principal to chief business official was a professional challenge. I had to both develop credibility with very talented staff and colleagues on the business services side while maintaining my knowledge and skill on the educational services side.
What are you most proud of accomplishing? I am most proud of all of the teacher leaders and administrators I have had the privilege of mentoring. Ensuring a strong leadership pipeline is important to me, and leveraging my position and experience to open doors for others is incredibly rewarding.
How has ACSA supported you in your career/current position? ACSA has been a constant presence throughout my administrative career. From the Summer Leadership Institute for New & Aspiring Principals to the Personnel Administrators Academy, ACSA professional learning and development has helped me progress in my career.
What has been most valuable, however, are the personal connections I have been able to make with other local leaders and the mentors. Those connections have opened doors for me and I continue the work to pay that forward.
How are you prioritizing mental health for yourself, your staff and/or your students? Building teams that are positive and support each other, creating an atmosphere of trust where mistakes for staff and students are seen as opportunities for growth, finding time to laugh with staff and students on a daily basis and taking time out to recognize and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments are all components of an atmosphere that supports mental health.
Even with all of that, however, we never know all that is happening in the lives around us. For that reason, having mental health supports such as the RULER curriculum for students, Families First for families, EASE for employees, and an open-door policy that makes asking for help safe are essential to fully support staff, students and families.
2023 Business Services Administrator of the Year Kimberlie Linz.
2023 Business Services Administrator of the Year Kimberlie Linz.