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City Schools welcomes new chief human capital officer

Emily Nielson's headshotIt is our pleasure to announce that Emily Nielson will join City Schools as Chief Human Capital Officer on September 12. In this role, Nielson will lead the district's efforts to attract, develop, and retain high-quality staff at all levels of the organization.

“Chief Nielson brings with her extensive knowledge of recruiting and retaining staff within a large school district. She understands the unique challenges that come with the role and is prepared to lead City Schools’ efforts to bring the best of the best to serve our students, staff, and families,” said CEO Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises. “Chief Nielson made it clear that she is committed to listening to our employees’ voices at all levels of the organization. I’m confident that her willingness to listen and learn combined with her expertise will keep City Schools moving in the right direction. I am thrilled to welcome her to City Schools’ leadership team.”

Nielson comes to City Schools from IDEA Public Schools, a Texas-based network of free, college preparatory public charter schools serving over 80,000 students at 143 schools in four states. As Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisition, she oversaw staffing and human resources. With her innovative thinking, Nielson improved processes that saved the network $2 million and created new professional development opportunities for school and district leaders. Under Nielson, IDEA exceeded an 85% staff retention rate and grew their team by 20% each year.

Previously, she served as the Chief Talent Officer for Camden City School District in New Jersey for three years.  Nielson started her career in education as a ninth-grade geography teacher in a small town on the Texas/Mexico border. She holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University.

Nielson is excited to join the Baltimore community to serve the City Schools staff who work with and in service of our students. She is coming to Baltimore with her husband, Eduardo, who is also an educator.

As we welcome Chief Nielson into her new role, we want to take this opportunity to thank Sarah Diehl for serving as interim Chief Human Capital Officer since early 2022. Under Sarah’s leadership, the Human Capital Office has maintained its high level of service to staff, addressed our need to hire more staff during a national teacher shortage, and continued to manage all of the district’s human resource needs. Sarah will resume her responsibilities as executive director of recruitment and staffing services.