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Burnaby school district loses top 2 executives to retirement

School District No. 41 superintendent Gina Niccoli Moen will retire in January, just seven months after former secretary-treasurer Russell Horswill, who retired in June.
Burnaby school district superintendent Gina Niccoli Moen and retired secretary-treasurer Russell Horswill.

The Burnaby school district will lose its two top executives in quick succession with the retirements of its secretary-treasurer and superintendent within seven months of each other.

The school district announced Tuesday that longtime superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen had given notice to the board that she intends to retire.

Her last day will be Jan. 31, but she will provide “transition support” when her successor is named, according to the announcement.

Niccoli-Moen has been with the Burnaby school district since 1990, when she began her teaching career as an English teacher at Burnaby South Secondary.

She joined the district’s leadership team in 2004 as a director of instruction.

She was appointed to the district’s top job in February 2015, after the sudden departure of former superintendent Kevin Kaardal.

“Gina has always led with her heart first, and she has left an indelible mark on the staff and students of the Burnaby school district,” school board chair Bill Brassington said in an announcement Tuesday. “On behalf of the board, I would like to offer our sincere thanks for her years of service and congratulations on her retirement.”

The board will hire an executive search firm to conduct a national search for Niccoli-Moen’s successor.

The district has already had to find a replacement for its second-in-command, secretary-treasurer Russell Horswill.

Horswill retired in June after seven years as the district’s top money man.

That job has now gone to Ishver Khunguray, the district’s deputy secretary-treasurer since 2021.

When asked whether the board is concerned about losing its two top executives within a matter of months, board chair Bill Brassington said Niccoli-Moen's and Horswill's experience is "embedded within the district."

"We have very capable people who have been mentored and coached by them, and their legacy will endure," Brassington said in an emailed statement. "We recognize the importance of the superintendent's role, and trustees are looking forward to finding an individual who will work with the board and help lead operations in this growing district."