Cheryl Domenichelli '11 EdD Named Director of 21CSLA Regional Academy

About Cheryl A. Domenichelli

Before coming to Berkeley, Domenichelli served in public education for 22 years in a variety of positions, including classroom teacher; assistant principal; principal; and in the central office as a program coordinator.

In each of these roles, she engaged in systemic reform of school structures that generated improved outcomes for historically underserved students. She was the founding principal of Kimball High School, which opened in 2009 and by 2011 became the top performing school in San Joaquin County. Under her leadership, Kimball High was a recipient of the U.S. News and World Report Bronze Award in 2014.

Domenichelli was named California Secondary Principal of the Year in 2012 and subsequently acknowledged in the Congressional Record, 113th Congress, for her work. Domenichelli’s work in K-12 culminated in oversight of academic planning and implementation of the Antioch Unified School District LCAP. She retired in 2016 from Antioch USD and immediately joined the Graduate School of Education’s Principal Leadership Institute to continue the work of school transformation toward equity for all students.

November 19, 2020

The UC Berkeley School of Education is pleased to announce that Cheryl Domenichelli '11 EdD has been appointed Director of the 21st Century California School Leadership Academy (21CSLA) Alameda Regional Academy, which covers six Bay Area counties.

The 21CSLA was reauthorized by the state of California in 2019 to support educational leaders at school sites and systems in order to improve campus culture and climate, create more equitable learning environments, and ultimately boost student success. In May 2020, the state awarded the School of Education one of seven Regional Academies in California as well as the statewide office.

In the Bay Area, Domenichelli will oversee the 21CSLA efforts in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano counties. Below is a Q&A with Domenichelli about her new leadership role at the School of Education.

What excites you about being Director of the 21CSLA Regional Academy?

This is quite easy for me to answer. I believe that the awarding of the 21CSLA grant in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and pandemic of racism and inequities, provides a unique opportunity to shift systems so that we make significant movement toward equity in education.

We have a history of under-serving particular groups of students, black, brown, second language learners, students with disabilities. In a world where all systems are disrupted, there is opportunity for innovation and transformation.

I have said to do the work of systemic reform at this point in time is beyond a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What is your vision for the 21CSLA Regional Academy?

The focus of the 21CSLA is to "support educational leaders at school sites and systems in order to improve campus culture and climate, create more equitable learning environments, and ultimately boost student success."

With this charge, it is important that the Regional Academy supports both urban and suburban, even rural, leaders in our service area – that we support with an understanding of the different context in which each school or system may be situated and that we honor the specific needs the leaders may have in each context.

I see a support structure built through 21CSLA that will build supportive relationships among leaders that will last beyond the years of the grant funding. Importantly, I see a system of support that will transform outcomes for all students, and particularly those students who have been historically underserved.

What should people do if they want to get involved?

We are excited to launch this project and to involve our community in the work. To receive updates regarding the work of the 21CSLA Regional Academy, we invite people to share their contact information with us. We also welcome people to contact us directly with questions they may have. Our email address is

What else would you like to share about the 21CSLA program?

The 21CSLA grant, as it has occurred in the context of pandemics, provides a great opportunity to improve education outcomes for students. There are so many dangers present in this time and yet simultaneously there are so many opportunities to re-imagine our educational systems.

I have always believed that great leaders serve; this grant provides an opportunity for serving those who lead in our school systems so that ultimately teachers are provided the support they need to improve student outcomes, and systemic barriers are removed that impede success for all students.

On a personal note, you are a graduate of the Berkeley School of Education's EdD program. What aspects of that program helped prepare you for your role as Director of the 21CSLA Regional Academy?

When I discuss what I gained from the work of earning my EdD, I always credit my chair Bernie Gifford with pushing me to think across industries and fields of study to inform my learning and subsequently my practice as an education leader. This one aspect of my learning woven through the skills of research, the learnings from literature reviews and the work of investigation have provided a strong platform for the work of supporting leaders in education; particularly in this time of pandemics when there is ample opportunity for transformation of systems in a context of chaos and danger.

The 21CSLA grant will call on us to innovate and support education leaders through uncertainties that few of us have previously encountered.

(Source: Berkeley School of Education News)