Erin Barisano, a veteran educator and a rising leader in Catholic education, has been named Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Orange.
Barisano will begin her new role July 2, overseeing 41 schools with 18,200 students from preschool through 12th grade. Buoyed by effective leadership and innovative teachers, Catholic schools in Orange County continue to build on consistently high student -achievement scores and award-winning classroom programs.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Diocese of Orange and its extraordinary schools,” said Barisano, a faculty member at Loyola Marymount University who began her career in education teaching second graders at St. Joseph Elementary School in Pomona. “The Diocese is the perfect place for me to be an agent of change and help lead these great schools forward.”
Barisano will step in for current Interim Superintendent Sally Todd, who will remain with the Office of Catholic Schools through the next year to help with the leadership transition.
Barisano said she was inspired to make the professional move to Orange County after learning about the Diocesan leadership’s work to build on already-outstanding educational programs and promote Catholic schools to new families across the region.
“The vision of Bishop Vann and the work he has done on strategic planning is a superintendent’s dream,” Barisano said. “I am excited to be a part of a team that is so invested in Catholic schools.”
“We are blessed as a Diocese to welcome Erin as our new superintendent,” said the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange. “The ministry of Catholic education is central to the stability and growth of our community of faith and it is essential that we continue to look at innovative ways to offer this transformative opportunity to ever more children and their families. Erin is a key to this strategy moving forward.”
Barisano joins the Diocese of Orange from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where she serves as deputy superintendent. There, she oversees 30 schools in the San Gabriel Valley and the Archdiocese’s leadership formation program.
The leadership skills Barisano developed by working with other educators has helped her transform into an effective administrator, Barisano said.
“I’m looking forward to developing authentic relationships with principals and teachers,” she said.
Barisano, whose mother was a Catholic school principal, credits much of her own success to the education and values instilled in her when she was a Catholic school student.
“I’m a product of Catholic schools and the poster child for a Catholic education,” she said.
After earning her bachelor’s in business administration and marketing from the University of Notre Dame, she worked as an account executive for a leading international marketing firm. Soon, however, she discovered her calling in the classroom.
“I’ve always believed so strongly in the mission of Catholic schools and the importance of being able to connect with children through the lens of faith,” she said. “Now more than ever, our kids need that.”
Barisano and her husband, Bart, have two children – Sophie, 13, and Casey, 10. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and gardening.
The joys and challenges of parenting have had a profound influence on her work as an educator, Barisano said.
“I became a better teacher and principal once I became parent,” she said.
Barisano taught at St. Joseph Elementary School in Pomona and St. Luke School in Temple City, where she later became principal. She earned a master’s degree in Catholic School Leadership in 2007 from Mount St. Mary’s College and a doctorate of education in educational leadership for social justice in 2017 from Loyola Marymount University. Her dissertation focused on forming and supporting Lay Catholic elementary school principals as spiritual leaders.
Today she works not only overseeing schools, but also helping educators engage students while instilling in them Catholic values. Barisano said she is committed to ensuring teachers are given the resources to help students, and themselves, reach their full potential.
“It’s important to give leaders support, a strong foundation and guidance,” she said. “I am committed to always be there for our teachers and principals to offer support and help guide them along the way.”