Superintendent of Schools

Gabriela Mafi, Ed.D.


Dr. Gabriela Mafi is in her 12th year as Superintendent of Garden Grove Unified School District, a high-performing, diverse, urban California district serving 39,000 students. Dr. Mafi has served the district for 22 years as Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, Director of 7-12 Instruction and Principal. She also spent over a decade as adjunct faculty at the University of Southern California, where she earned her doctorate in 2002, and worked as Executive Director of the Ed.D. Program in 2005-2006. Prior to joining GGUSD, Dr. Mafi held positions as an assistant principal, district coordinator, and curriculum writer, as well as a teacher at various levels.

Dr. Mafi is proud of "The Garden Grove Way", the district’s strategic plan which she spearheaded in 2013-2014 through a collaborative process involving parents, staff, and students. The Strategic Plan includes three primary goals: academic skills, personal skills, and lifelong success. The roadmap has paved the way for real results, including improved scores across all grade levels on the state’s SBAC test; high survey rankings from students about their school's climate and culture, and a higher pass rate on Advanced Placement exams than the state, national and world average. “The Garden Grove Way” also refers to the warm and approachable manner in which district and school staffs interact with all stakeholders. Dr. Mafi takes pride in Garden Grove’s family feel and takes time to meet and talk to staff, parents, and students.

The fifth of six children whose mother, Ada, immigrated from Mexico in her 20s, Gabriela grew up in a high-poverty area of South Los Angeles. As a Latina, first-generation college student, Dr. Mafi is passionate about ensuring that all students are equipped with the academic and personal skills needed for lifelong success. She has worked tirelessly to ensure district coherence and improve student learning outcomes, resulting in a doubling of the district's a-g rate, and equipping all students with scholarly habits and challenging and supportive instruction.  She launched the district’s Latinos Unidos student club in 2012 to address inequitable outcomes and enhance student self-efficacy. She and her husband, Eugene, are proud parents of three children, two adults and a 2nd grader who has Trisomy 18/Edwards Syndrome, resulting in profound disabilities. Calling on her skills as a parent and educator, Dr. Mafi personally mentors students from GGUSD’s highest-poverty communities, working with her mentees and their families regularly from sixth grade and into their university life. Based on her mentoring program, Dr. Mafi established the district’s award-winning College and Career Mentoring Program, in which hundreds of GGUSD alumni university students return to their elementary schools to provide extended-day lessons to sixth graders on how to be successful in secondary school.