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7 Questions with Leonard Hernandez

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7 Questions with Leonard Hernandez

Name: Leonard Hernandez, Jr., MBA, MA

Current title: Director of Facilities, Maintenance, Operations, Transportation and Charter Schools

Current organisation: Pasadena Unified School District

Pasadena, CA -- Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Brian McDonald today announced that he has named Leonard Hernandez, Jr., as Director of Maintenance, Operations, Transportation, and Facilities. Mr. Hernandez will lead the management of district-wide facilities planning, maintenance and repair functions, custodial services, transportation services, fleet management, utility management, and District safety and security programs.

Hernandez has served in high levels of school district facilities management, led school facilities and operations for a 1,800-student school complex, taught JROTC, and retired from the U.S. Army as a Sergeant, First Class after more than two decades of honorable service.

“Mr. Hernandez brings a unique blend of leadership, experience, and expertise in school facilities and operations, school site-level administration, classroom instruction, and military service to USD,” said Superintendent Brian McDonald. “His emphasis on excellence in service through delivering campuses that are clean and in good repair is especially important as we prepare for the eventual safe return of students and staff to our schools as public health conditions with the COVID-19 pandemic evolve.”

After retiring as a Sergeant, First Class, after 21 years of honorable service in the U.S. Army, Mr. Hernandez began his career in education as a JROTC instructor in the Los Angeles Unified School District and later in the Pomona Unified School District.

Mr. Hernandez joins PUSD from the Pomona Unified School District, where he was Director of facilities, maintenance, operations, and facilities from 2019-2020 and was responsible for directing, coordinating, evaluating, and planning the day-to-day facilities, maintenance, operations, and transportation for the district’s 43 campuses and three sites. From 2003-2007, he was a school site administrator for Pomona Unified Pueblo K-8 and Village Academy High School complex that served 1,800 K-12th grade students and hosted an adult education program. In this role, he managed student discipline and student leadership activities, the schools’ operations, maintenance, and facilities, and supervised classified employees. He was subsequently promoted and served as Pomona Unified coordinator of civic center permits and operations from 2007-2016.

From 2016-2019, he was the Chief Facilities Operations Officer of the Inglewood Unified School District, where he supervised the construction, maintenance, and repair of school buildings and facilities, energy management, and facilities planning and operations.

“I am honored to join the PUSD team,” said Mr. Hernandez. “As a former site administrator and classroom instructor, I know that the role of school facilities and maintenance is to support and serve students, teachers, and staff with clean facilities in good repair. The facilities and maintenance team has a powerful influence on the educational experience of our students, staff, and families. I look forward to working collaboratively to provide excellent and caring service to our students and staff during the challenging times we face now and in the future.”

Mr. Hernandez has a passion for education and is a life-long learner, obtaining several degrees and professional certificates. He received a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Phoenix, a Master’s degree in Occupational Studies in Education from California State University, Long Beach, and a Bachelor’s degree from Excelsior College in New York. He has several professional certificates including an Executive Leadership Management Certification from the Anderson School of Business Management at UCLA, and professional certificates from the California Coalition for Adequate School and Housing (C.A.S.H.). He graduated from the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistant Team (FCMAT) Chief Business Official Mentorship program in February 2020 and is currently enrolled in the transportation leadership academy of the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO).

7 Questions with Leonard Hernandez

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1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

The lack of leadership from colleagues. I often find colleagues who complain about personnel and the struggles they have within their department. I strongly believe we must be people of influence, mentors or role models for our teams. We must identify and train our successor.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I am a strong proponent of Leadership. I am retired from the United States Army. I was told that "I will NOT make it" in the Army. The Army did not want "boys" like me. I thank the people (many people) who gave me their sincere advice. Their comments motivated me to excel. Serving 21 years of military service, I succeeded. The 'you can't" turned into "I can." The Army taught me Leadership, and I passed it forward everyday to as many people as I could. I pursued higher education, continued to work hard and believed in my ethics, accepting higher responsibilities. Most important being a people's person and influencing others along my journey.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

This is my weakness. I work long hours and I often take my work home. I have a team, and "we" have to know and understand our day, and prepare for the next day. Often our priorities may change; however, we still have an obligation to stay our course. Planning, communicating and thinking forward is key.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Listen! Listen to understand and without interrupting or responding before they have a chance to finish their story. Do not respond until they finish. Hear your subordinates' message. I often learn from hearing their story, their passion and their experience.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One of my favorites authors is John C. Maxwell Being a Person of Influence. "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." One of my life missions is to train others as leaders. I often refer to my leadership library and how to be a person of influence. Example: I will consistently take time in the morning or afternoon to thank my team for the work they do. Before COVID-19, I always shake their hands and tell them how important they are to our organization (sincerely!).

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

Building leadership capacity should always be looked at as an investment to any organization. People are your most vital asset. I strongly believe that I build others to become leaders. I often identify others potential leaders within my department and task them with higher responsibilities. I find that so many subordinates want their skills challenged, their ideas heard, and a little acknowledgement goes a very long way.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

I have mentored others with job interview techniques. One young man was applying for a FedEx driver position. There were approximately 200 people for 10 positions. He used the skills I taught in class and was offered a position.

Another young lady, a single mom, received a job as a manager at a Salvation Army store, again using the techniques we learned in class. One young man was in prison and he wanted a job. His confidence level was very low. He too received a job. Another young man was about to finish his bachelor's degree and I applaud him for his accomplishments, and encourage him the importance of continuing his education and the possibility to pursue a Master's degree. He went on to receive his Master's degree and he profusely thanked me for the discussion, and doors, today are opening up to him, at the age of 24.