Three finalists named in CCSD superintendent search

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

GALLUP — The Central Consolidated School District Board of Education has named three finalists in its search for a new superintendent.

The board announced Daniel Benavidez, Rebecca Benedict and Abena McNeely as the finalists in a June 12 press release.

The search for a new superintendent began after the board placed interim superintendent Dave Goldtooth on administrative leave last month.

According to the release, the superintendent search committee – led by consultants from Prather Consulting – responded to 30 requests for application packets and 13 were returned.

The committee forwarded eight packets from qualified applicants to the board, which reviewed the application materials then invited Benavidez, Benedict and McNeely for interviews, the release states.

In addition to the names, the district released some information about the candidates.

Benavidez is superintendent of the Zuni Public School District in Zuni, a position he has held since 2016.

His career includes working six years as school director of the Tierra Encantada Charter School in Santa Fe, six years as the education administrator at the New Mexico Public Education Department, and five tears as a teacher at Pecos Middle School in Pecos.

He earned a master's degree in educational leadership and a bachelor's degree in secondary education, both from the University of New Mexico.

Benedict is principal of Kirtland Central High School. She has been with CCSD since 2013 and has served as assistant superintendent, the director of schools and the director of curriculum and instruction.

From 1995 to 2013, she worked as a principal, associate principal and assistant principal in schools in Texas. She was an academic counselor at Houston Community College for three years.

Benedict holds a doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University and earned a master's degree in education from Framingham State College and a bachelor's degree in sociology from State University of New York.

McNeely works at San Juan College as a grant manager and mentor and as an early education instructor.

She was principal for five years at Ojo Amarillo Elementary School and worked for a year as the director of administration and student success with CCSD.

She earned a master's degree in special education from New Mexico State University, a bachelor's degree in sociology and secondary education from Fort Lewis College and an associate degree in psychology from San Juan College.

Benavidez, Benedict and McNeely were interviewed by board members and by a staff and advisory committee in Shiprock on June 13, according to district spokesman Roberto Taboada.

The board is expected to appoint the new superintendent during the regular meeting on June 16, according to the agenda posted on the CCSD website.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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