Nearly 11 months after Winston Braham resigned as chief financial officer (CFO) of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the district is finally getting a new CFO and assistant superintendent, Janece Maez.

Maez is currently assistant superintendent of Fiscal and Administrative Services at the Pleasant Valley School District in Camarillo.

Stephen Hodgson has been serving as interim CFO since January.

Maez was one of two final candidates interviewed for the position, after a search conducted by School Services of California, Inc. School board member Barry Snell represented the board in the final interviews and said he was impressed with Maez’s knowledge.

“She definitely has the experience and the ability to manage, I think, our district’s finances,” Snell said. “She has been in school finances pretty much all her career. She came up through the ranks. I like the fact that she has been in one district for 17 years. And she has been through bond measures similar to ours to build schools.

“I really think she’ll fit well with our senior management.”

Maez has over 20 years of experience in school district finance. Prior to her 17 years in the Pleasant Valley School District, she worked in the fiscal department at the Ventura Unified School District.

“I am very pleased to have Janece join our team,” said deputy superintendent Tim Walker. “She brings years of experience to the district and has the skills needed to make the transition smooth.

“Janece and I have had many conversations and I find her to have a pleasant personality. She is extremely knowledgeable — with mastery in her area of expertise. She will be a great addition to the senior leadership team and to the district overall.”

Superintendent Dianne Talarico agrees that Maez will be valuable to the district.

“Ms. Maez’s leadership skills and ability to solve problems creatively and analytically will be a valuable asset to SMMUSD,” Talarico said. “Her focus on cooperative decision-making and honest, open and reliable communi- cation will be a complement to the district’s focus on teamwork and accountability.”

Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association president Harry Keiley said the union welcomes Maez to the district.

“We look forward to building a collaborative working relationship with her and we look forward to finding common ground in the area of district expenditures, namely making sure that Santa Monica-Malibu continues to remain an attractive place to recruit highly qualified teachers and to retain them,” he said.

Maez, who attended the University of Washington and California Lutheran University, is expected to start as CFO Monday, October 8th, pending approval of her appointment by the school board at its meeting Thursday, October 4th.