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Two Finalists Vying for Superintendent Post

Posted January 16, 2024, 2:10 PM. Updated January 26, 2024, 2:52 PM.

A series of community forums and more in-depth interviews with the board are planned before a new superintendent is hired.

Editor's note: Mason Bellamy has withdrawn his name from consideration, leaving two finalists for the position.

After about three hours of second-round virtual interviews, in an executive session that began shortly after 10 a.m. today and ended at about 1:45 p.m., the APS Board of Education chose Thomas Ahart, Mason Bellamy, and Gabriella Durán Blakey as finalists for the APS superintendent post. 

  • Ahart, from Des Moines, Iowa, is the former superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools and is now a consultant with the Council of the Great City Schools.

  • Durán Blakey, of Albuquerque, is chief operations officer at APS and previously served as one of the district’s associate superintendents for leadership and learning.

  • Bellamy, from Clarksville, Tennessee, currently serves as chief of academics and schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools and previously worked for the Clarksville Montgomery County School System.

The three were among four semi-finalists, including Channell Segura, and 20 other local and national educators vying for the position. The four semi-finalists were announced last week.

The board has scheduled a series of community forums for Jan. 30 to give the public an opportunity to meet and engage with the finalists. These forums will provide valuable insights into the candidates’ motivations, experiences, and vision.

“The superintendent search process that started last year is very community-driven,” said APS Board of Education President Danielle Gonzales. “It began when we set our goals and guardrails based on what the community told us they wanted to see regarding student competencies, graduation expectations, district outreach, and collaboration with the community. More recently, we asked the community to tell us what qualities they want to see in our next superintendent. More than 7,000 individuals participated in that survey and attended 20 community listening sessions. Now we look forward to hearing from our community on the three finalists.”

Anyone interested in submitting a question for the finalists can do so here before Jan. 26. Pre-screened questions will be presented to the finalists at the following public forums on Jan. 30 at the Berna Facio Professional Development Complex, 3315 Louisiana Blvd. NE:

  • 9 a.m. – noon: Public Town Hall featuring a student panel and pre-submitted questions for the superintendent finalists.

  • 5 - 5:45 p.m.:  APS Employee Forum, where finalists will be asked questions pre-submitted by teachers and staff.

  • 6 -8 p.m.: General Public Forum, where finalists will introduce themselves and answer pre-submitted questions.

The information gathered from these forums will help the board evaluate the candidates. All public events will be live-streamed on the APS Board of Education YouTube Channel. Live Streamed events will be closed captioned through YouTube. Spanish and Sign Language interpretation will be provided. If you need another language, please email

Selecting a superintendent is one of the board’s most crucial responsibilities. The chosen candidate will lead the district in its ambitious new strategic plan to improve academic outcomes for 68,000 students. Additionally, the superintendent oversees the daily operations of more than 140 schools, leads 12,000 employees, and collaborates with students, educators, support staff, parents, families, elected officials, community members, and union partners, to create life-changing opportunities for all students.

The board is scheduled to meet again in an executive session on Wednesday, Jan. 31, for final interviews with the finalists and to select a new superintendent. The person chosen will replace Superintendent Scott Elder, who is retiring from APS when his contract expires on June 30.