Dr. Michele Copher
Fresno County Superintendent of Schools
Improving access and opportunity to significantly improve the lives of children and families through powerful education is at the core of Dr. Michele Cantwell-Copher’s beliefs. Dr. Copher’s vision is guided by the principles of equity, inclusion, respect, and civility. As a Fresno County educator for 32 years, she was elected in June 2022 as the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools for a term commencing on January 3, 2023.
Dr. Copher was raised in the Central Valley and has a deep appreciation for its unique cultural diversity, which she believes is one of Fresno County’s greatest strengths. She attended Fresno City College and Fresno State for her teaching degrees, ultimately earning a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of LaVerne. Over her career, she has opened new schools, achieved State Distinguished Schools recognitions, passed school bonds, assisted in district rapid growth, launched two educational foundations, led a movement to uplift the importance of early care and education, hosted a GradNation Summit, co-written the Central Valley Children’s Agenda, and stewarded the Fresno Cradle 2 Career work. Those accomplishments are secondary to the privilege of teaching her students to read in the early years of her career as a classroom teacher.
Her mission as the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools is to provide leadership and cultivate engagement to unite all sectors in support of public education. Community partnerships and service to others are values that Dr. Copher upholds. She believes we must all be committed to the success of the “whole child,” starting with healthy families. Dr. Copher further believes that ensuring the health and safety of children is a community responsibility. She strives to ensure that each child feels valued and that each has access to equal opportunities to succeed in school, graduate and pursue college or a career.
She led FCSS’ successful expansion of business-education partnerships and collaborative work with nonprofit, community-based organizations, and civic groups. Since 2019, Dr. Copher has contributed to the work of the Fresno DRIVE Community Investment Plan that focuses on economic growth, human capital and neighborhood development.
Dr. Copher is active in the community, serving on boards and volunteering at Valley Children’s Hospital. She was recognized as a Top 10 Business Woman of the Year in 2006. Dr. Copher is married to John, a Correctional Lieutenant with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, and together they have two children, Claire, a third-year law school student at McGeorge School of Law, and Quaid, serving at the United States Naval Academy.
My vision for education in Fresno County prioritizes ALL children, especially those who need us most, by ensuring equal access to resources and caring adults that support a healthy development and safeguard their success for school, and for life.