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Garrett G. Rutherford, Ed.D.  

ESS Consultant 
Education Support Services Group

Cell: (760) 578-2096


Dr. Gary Rutherford retired as Superintendent of the Desert Sands Unified School District in 2017, culminating a career in public education spanning 40 years.  His 16 years as a superintendent also included service as Superintendent of the Upland Unified School District and the Huntington Beach City School District.  A native Californian, Gary began his career in public education in 1976, enjoying successful teaching and site administrator assignments at the elementary, middle grades, and high school levels, before moving on to the central office as a specialist in curriculum and instruction.


Since retirement, Dr. Rutherford invests his decades of experience in K-12 public education as an executive search advisor, interim superintendent of schools, executive leadership coach, and consultant for governance team training and workshops. 


Dr. Rutherford demonstrates his commitment to develop the next generation of school leaders as an adjunct professor in graduate programs for school administrators and doctoral candidates.  An active and involved member of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), he leads a number of committees and institutes that support professional growth and build the capacity of school leaders.  In addition, Dr. Rutherford supports the work of California administrators as an Advocate for ACSA’s Member Assistance and Legal Services Team.


Dr. Rutherford earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Pepperdine University, a Master of Arts at California State University at Los Angeles, and a doctoral degree in Organizational Management from the University of La Verne.


In 2012, Dr. Rutherford was honored to be named as Superintendent of the Year for Region 12 of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).  The following year, he was selected to represent ACSA in the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year recognition program.  More recently, Dr. Rutherford was honored with the Visionary Leader Award by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership in recognition of his work to develop, refine, and sustain career pathways for more than 71,000 in the region's K-12 schools.

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