If ever there was a year that could showcase a fearless leader’s true colors, 2021-22 would certainly be it. After returning to our first in-person Annual Conference held since 2019, none of us could forecast just how it would play out … despite the fact that your CASBO leadership and staff did everything in our power to make it successful.

Would people attend? Check! You turned out in droves!

Would they balk at vaccination screening? Not one bit! (And thank you for that — we suspected you’d be all about helping your fellow conference-goers feel welcome and comfortable!)

Would there be performance hitches in any of the programs? Well …, ok, so we had a few technical difficulties here and there — after all, our conference partners are returning to the stage for the first time in a couple years themselves — but nothing we couldn’t handle!

And why was that? Because we did it all under the experienced leadership of our president, Richard De Nava, of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools!

Turns out our event in Sacramento two weeks ago — and indeed our entire year — proved to be an excellent example of three pivotal words that Rich swears by and that we’ve been following all along:


In a long and storied career, first in the U.S. Army and then in school business, Rich not only understands these concepts, he has lived them.

In a speech at the First General Session, he shared with us the trials he encountered on his path to becoming a chief business official, explaining his belief that even though challenges are always part of our future, they can serve us well when it counts:

“Without flexibility, I would not have been prepared to pivot my career path.

“Without grit, I would not have been willing to put the work in, even after experiencing failure and adversity.

“Without perseverance, it would have been super easy to back away from my long-term goal of someday becoming a CBO.”

As he thanked his family, his boss and co-workers, and his CASBO leadership team, he reminded us that even though part of our future will continue to hold uncertainty resulting from “the Great Resignation” and the pandemic, the spirit of those three words will be what continues to get us through.

“That we’ve arrived here is proof of our grit and resilience,” he says, “and it’s what’s at the core of CASBO’s mission to unite all of us working in school business to hone our skills and advance our leadership strengths.”

If you talk to Rich, he’ll tell you that it’s those values of integrity, work ethic and determination that will provide our opportunities for success — and ensure them for California’s students, families and communities as well.

Not a bad message to close out a term of service that began under the virtual umbrella of last year’s Annual Conference and culminated in near-perfect fashion before almost 3,000 people at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center in Sacramento!

Well done, Rich! While you stated you’ve been honored to be our president, it’s we who are grateful to have worked with you, tirelessly and without regard to what it cost you, to transform the lives of students every single day.

And, as we thank you for your service — and give you props for your fantastic western wear at your president’s dinner! — we want you to know that you’re not riding into the sunset on your own just yet. As you transition into your new role as immediate past president, we’ll still be relying on your experienced scouting abilities. Your frontier spirit is alive and well … and your CASBO wagon train is right behind you!