Dr. Amy Cranston Now Leads California SEL Alliance

Since July 2019, Dr. Amy Cranston has been at the forefront of the social-emotional learning (SEL) revolution in California as executive director of the California SEL Alliance.

Amy formerly and for some years served as Director of Expanded Learning Services for the Ventura County Office of Education and a Regional Lead for the California Dept. of Education Expanded Learning Division,

In the fall of 2018, she joined the Alliance as a steering committee member and subsequently agreed to chair and direct our first statewide SEL conference, slated for 2020.

As Amy learned more about the Alliance and our exchanges deepened, and as I learned more about her extensive connections and respect within the education community, I broached the matter of her providing the next level of leadership for SEL4CA. I noted this would allow me to focus more intensely on my other role – as president of the national media awareness campaign, EQuip Our Kids!, under the banner of the advocacy organization the Big EQ Campaign.

For now I will remain chair of the Alliance steering committee and active on the strategic and advocacy levels but will give up my major Alliance role as Lead Organizer. From the outset I’ve believed that the next stage of our development would be made possible by a leader from the education community who was intensely passionate and knowledgeable about SEL, has strong leadership skills, and enjoys wide respect in the community.

Amy is that person. I believe our movement of 100 organizations and 200 individual members will now grow faster and stronger as a foundational force for the SEL movement in the state, and nationally.

As she begins this pivotal role at the Alliance, she’d like to share with you her vision for SEL4CA, as well as a brief bio of her 19 years in education.

“Words cannot express how excited I am for the opportunity to take the helm at SEL4CA! Like all of you Alliance members, I am a rabid supporter, believer, and advocate of SEL – for all kids, of all ages, in all schools and learning environments. Along with Jay, my vision for the potential of the Alliance is limitless in our ability to grow SEL4CA as a force to be reckoned with in furthering the cause and mission of SEL.

In our own creative ways, we intend to put SEL4CA on the map as one of the core leaders of the SEL movement in this country, just as our six-year old SEL4MA counterpart has done in the state of Massachusetts. In collaboration with our multi-state counterparts, the California Alliance will also help to grow the national network of Alliances anchored by SEL4US.

I look forward to getting to know each and every Alliance member, learning more about the great SEL work each of you are doing, and working together to make our dream—our common goal and collective vision—a reality. Onward!”


Amy recently served as the Director of Expanded Learning Services for the Ventura County Office of Education and as a Regional Lead for the CDE-Expanded Learning Division. A professional educator for nearly 20 years, she has been a teacher, school site administrator, county office administrator, and state representative for a four-county region.

A formal and passionate SEL expert, her Doctoral study focused on Social Emotional Learning for At-Risk students. She has since brought her SEL expertise into service in various capacities at the local, state, and national levels. Dr. Cranston holds an Ed.D. in K-12 Educational Leadership and has published several articles based on her SEL research. She will present her work at CASEL’s inaugural conference in Chicago this October.

Her book, Creating Social and Emotional Learning Environments, was just released by Shell Education Publishing. Additional areas of expertise include: Impact of poverty on education, social justice and educational equity for at-risk students, dropout prevention, college and career readiness, school climate and safety.

The book is available at Amazon here.

A scholar and writer as well as an administrator, Dr. Cranston combines her research and hands-on experience into what she seeks to be an important aid to expanding SEL adoption.

From the book blurb: “Many educators find themselves wondering, what exactly is SEL? How should it be taught? What does it look like in the classroom? And, is it our job as educators to teach students non-academic life skills? Based on author Dr. Amy Cranston’s experiences with implementing SEL from a practical standpoint, this book defines SEL and digs into the real work of how to incorporate SEL in K-12 schools. It makes the connection between research and practical application and the real-life examples and testimonials of SEL in the classroom will help educators effectively implement SEL programming”.

And a testimonial: “This book is a wonderful resource to help us understand the context for this new emphasis and openness around social and emotional learning. It provides guidance for how each of us can impact another human for the better and find our own personal growth and transformation in the process. In short, what is social and emotional learning in its most distilled state? Love.” – Michael Funk, Director, California Department of Education, Expanded Learning Division.


Announcing the Coalition for School Well-Being