Marlene Canter, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board of education and the representative for local board District 4, was honored Tuesday, May 2nd, as Los Angeles’ top female executive by the Los Angeles Business Journal at the publication’s 15th annual Women Making a Difference luncheon.

The Business Journal’s annual award honors women of outstanding achievement in Los Angeles’ business community.

Canter was chosen from more than 50 nominees in the “Executive” category.

“Combining my years in the classroom with my experience as a business executive has given me a unique vantage point from which to do the hard work of reform,” Canter said.

“Representing the students, teachers, and families of this school district — especially at this time — is such an honor. This is a district on the move. The trend is going up — and that’s how success is measured.”

Canter started her career in education more than 30 years ago as special education teacher at Alta Loma Elementary School in the LAUSD.

She co-founded Canter and Associates, a successful teacher training company, which was sold to Sylvan Learning Centers in 1998.

Canter was elected to the school board in 2001, re-elected in 2005 and the same year selected by her peers as board president.

While on the school board, she authored a ban on soda and junk food in schools, said to be the first of its kind for a large urban school district.

She also spearheaded a strategic plan to improve teacher quality, and on her watch, the percentage of highly qualified teachers has increased from 75 percent to 95 percent.

Canter’s tenure as board president has been marked by cooperation with the various unions that represent school employees.

Last summer, she hosted a historic summit between superintendent Roy Romer and A.J. Duffy, president of the United Teachers Los Angeles union, which resulted in a number of collaborative agreements.

“Thanks to Marlene’s perseverance, ability to build consensus, and dedication to children, the district has achieved tremendous gains in recent years,” Romer said.

“New schools are being built, test scores are up, and instruction and school safety are improving. I commend Marlene for her invaluable leadership as school board president.”