Monday, March 21, 2011

Kimberly Olson, Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2005

Kimberly D. Olson, Colonel, USAF (retired), is currently the Executive Director of Grace After Fire, an online social support network for women veterans. She does not work in the field of public education.

NEV. SCHOOL FINALIST FACED AIR FORCE CHARGES; April 23, 2009; Reno Gazette-Journal article re-published in Air Force Times 
Washoe County School District officials said Wednesday that a former Air Force officer who pleaded guilty and was reprimanded on charges related to a war profiteering case in Iraq remains a candidate to become superintendent of the district.

Kimberly D. Olson, human development officer at the Dallas Independent School District since 2007, is among four finalists for the Washoe job.

While a colonel in Iraq in 2003, Olson was accused by Pentagon investigators of establishing a U.S. branch of a South African security firm and helping it win more than $3 million in contracts. The firm provided protection for senior American and British officials and private war contractors including subsidiaries of Halliburton Co.

According to Air Force documents, Olson denied abusing her position and avoided a court-marshal by pleading guilty to conduct unbecoming an officer and failure to obey an order or regulation. She was reprimanded and resigned from the service with an honorable discharge and no reduction in rank. She also was banned from receiving further government contracts for three years.

Olson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

School board President Barbara Clark said the board learned about her guilty plea weeks ago. Clark said Jim Huge, president of the company paid $29,000 for the job search, told board members he had interviewed Olson’s former commanding officer and Olson “had stepped forward to take the blame” for things that happened on her watch…*

When questioned about her guilty plea by someone in the audience at a Reno public meeting Tuesday night, Olson said: “I’m accountable for what I did and it’s all out there for the public to see.”

Olson is the second of the four superintendent finalists discovered to be the subject of controversy.

Hector Montenegro, an education consultant the Dallas suburb of Arlington, resigned as superintendent there after less than six months after questions arose over his acceptance of honorariums from nonprofit groups that do business with the district.

The other finalists are:

• Lawrence W. Fryer, Jr., chief operating officer of the Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland and formerly a senior managing consultant for IBM Global Business Services.

• Edmond T. Heatley, superintendent of the Chino Valley Unified School District in Chino, Calif.

Clark said the board will narrow the field to one or two after discussing the interviews conducted this week.

[NOTE: Fryer and Heatley are Broad Superintendents Academy graduates]

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…The board is being assisted in the selection process by Bay Area executive search consultant Jim Huge.*

Malone and the other finalists are scheduled to visit Reno next week for interviews.

The other finalists are Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Lawrence W. Fryer Jr., Chino Valley Unified School District Superintendent Edmond T. Heatley, Oakland Unified School District State Administrator/Superintendent Vincent Matthews, education consultant Hector Montenegro, who is from Arlington, Texas and Kimberly D. Olson, who is the chief development officer for Dallas Independent School District….

[NOTE: Fryer, Heatley, and Matthews are Broad Superintendents Academy graduates]

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When Jay Garner arrived as the first U.S. administrator in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, he chose a highly decorated Air Force colonel named Kimberly D. Olson as his right arm because he considered her among the best America had to offer.

One of the first female pilots in the Air Force, she was a hard-charger with an unblemished reputation for honesty, a high profile in the Pentagon and a commitment to the U.S. goal of creating a democracy in the Middle East.

Today, Olson is at the center of accusations of audacious impropriety in the corruption-plagued reconstruction of Iraq.

She is accused of profiting from the post-invasion chaos by using her position to benefit a private security firm that she helped operate, according to interviews and government documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Pentagon investigators allege that while on active duty as one of the most powerful figures in Iraq, Olson established a U.S. branch of a South African security firm after helping it win more than $3 million in contracts to provide protection for senior U.S. and British officials, as well as for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co.

Olson, 48, has spent more than a year fighting the charges. In military proceedings last year, she denied abusing her position to enrich herself or the security company, but agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges. She was reprimanded and allowed to resign from the Air Force with an honorable discharge and no reduction in rank. Olson was also banned from receiving further government contracts for three years. She is appealing the ban…

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Memorandum in support of the proposed debarments of Kimberly D. Olson, et al. October 24, 2005, issued by the Department of the Air Force, Office of Deputy General Council excerpt:
1. The conduct of MTS-USA and Olson is of so serious and compelling a nature that it affects their present responsibility to be Government contractors or subcontractors and provides a separate basis for their debarments, pursuant to FAR 9.406-2(c)…

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* IMPORTANT NOTE: Jim Huge operates a firm hired by school districts for conducting superintendent searches (Jim Huge & Associates). Huge and representatives of similar firms (Carl Davis of Ray & Associates, and Jerry Chapman of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates) have been presenters at training sessions of Broad Superintendents Academy participants.


  1. The Broad pipeline placed edu-consultants in NJ, diverting public school funds for their consulting fees (fees start at $1000.00 per day.) According to NJ acting commissioner Chris Cerf (Broad Graduating Class 2004) “This level of talent and expertise comes with a price tag,”

    It certainly does...

  2. I keep getting lost in the "experience" details of all these Broad Superintendent finalists. How on earth have we gotten to that place where running pubic schools now needs leaders who come from military backgrounds?