SSDA Press Release


Contact: Gwen Bell
Phone: (916) 750-0722

Press Release: Four Superintendents Appointed to SSDA's Executive Committee

CA Small School Districts’ Association (SSDA) announces the appointment of Dr. Helio Brasil, Tom O’Malley, Melanie Matta, and Christopher Rafanelli to SSDA's Executive Committee.

Sacramento, CA, May 2023 – The California Small School Districts’ Association (SSDA) is pleased to announce the selection of four distinguished Superintendents to the Executive Committee: Dr. Helio Brasil, Tom O’Malley, Melanie Matta, and Christopher Rafanelli.  

Dr. Brasil serves as the Superintendent of Keyes Union School District. Dr. Brasil immigrated to the United States at the age of nine, and he is an advocate for non-English speaking students. Dr. Brasil is passionate about providing equal opportunity for all children to learn. He also served previously as an executive board member and president of SSDA. 

“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve on this amazing board again. My professional career and my students have benefited greatly because of my involvement and service to this organization,” said Dr. Brasil. 

“Helio is an inspirational leader. He gets the best out of his staff and students because he believes in what they can do and allows them a platform to grow and shine,” said SSDA President and Superintendent Terri Rufert.  

 Tom O’Malley began his journey as the 2005 Assistant Principal of Modoc High School, then Principal, and in 2013 became the Superintendent of Modoc Joint Unified School District.  

“Tom has vision, courage, clarity, perseverance, and a wonderful sense of humor,” said Terri Rufert. “All of these make him a successful leader for his district and small schools through SSDA.” 

“Under the leadership of Tim Taylor, SSDA has done amazing things advocating for small and rural school districts. SSDA was a huge support system for helping Modoc Joint Unified School District navigate COVID, and their support continues as we strive to make our District better,” said O’Malley. 

Melanie Matta, Superintendent of Hope Elementary School District, has been in education for seventeen years, with ten years of experience as a first, second, and fifth-grade teacher, literacy coach, and reading specialist. 

“I believe in the power of collective action and collaboration to drive positive change for our students and can't wait to dig into the work with SSDA,” said Matta.  

Terri Rufert said Matta “Motivates others to step up and do wonderful things for children. She provides a supportive environment with high expectations.”  

“SSDA has become one of our district's go-to resources, and I am honored to join the team in advocating for small school districts in California,” said Superintendent and Principal of Liberty School District Christopher Rafanelli.  

Rafanelli’s passion and drive have led Liberty School to flourish as the oldest school in continuous operation at the same site. “Chris is a leader with great character and integrity,” said Rufert. Rafanelli is making a long-lasting impact on his school district and community by having high standards academically and culturally for Liberty School District.  

“SSDA was created in 1982 to advocate and amplify the voices of 2/3 of the districts in California,” says Tim Taylor, Executive Director.  “The newly appointed members are passionate education leaders who bring abundant experience to their roles and will contribute significantly to SSDA’s efforts to advocate for the needs of small school districts.

The mission of the Small School Districts’ Association is to provide relevant information and proactive assistance to small school district governing boards and superintendents through legislative advocacy, collaboration, professional development, and support services. To learn more, visit or email Taylor Smith at