Published Thursday, December 16, 2021 | 11:33 a.m.
Updated 5 hours, 56 minutes ago
Lisa Cano Burkhead’s mother came to Las Vegas from Paraguay and her father from Argentina in search of a better life. She worked on the strip as a seamstress and blackjack dealer.
They just finished elementary school and taught their daughter the value of education from an early age, Cano Burkhead said. The native Las Vegan completed a double degree in Spanish and English at the University of Redlands in California en route to a career as an educator and school administrator.
Now, after retiring from her job as high school director in the Clark County School District this summer, the Henderson resident takes on a new challenge: serve as lieutenant governor of Nevada.
Cano Burkhead, 50, was appointed this week by Governor Steve Sisolak to succeed former Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, who left in August to take a position at the White House.
Cano Burkhead, a Democrat, said she plans to boost the state’s economy and improve education.
“(My parents) have instilled in me a deep appreciation for education and the opportunities that come with strong education,” Cano Burkhead said Thursday at an event to announce her appointment. “That made me decide to devote my career to teaching. And now I would like to use my life experience as a teacher, headmaster, administrator and parent to get involved in my new role as Vice Governor for education. “
She spent a decade in the classroom teaching English and Spanish in CCSD before becoming dean and assistant principal at Eldorado High School, Sisolak said. She spent several years as chief of staff to Richard Carranza, the superintendent of the Northwest Region.
Cano Burkhead later became headmistress, where she spent the last six years at Foothill High School. Based on her experience, Sisolak said, she will bring about the much-needed change in the state government.
“Lisa’s experience as an educator and principal makes her the right person to lead this conversation and work in Nevada as we relax and ensure that all Nevadans, especially our students, have the opportunities they deserve,” said Sisolak.
In her new role, Cano Burkhead said she will focus on learning more about the position and listening to the people in the community. She was part of the Paradise Town Board in Clark County and ran unsuccessfully for the Nevada Assembly in 2002.
The lieutenant governor chairs the Nevada Tourism Commission, which is responsible for setting guidelines and managing the funding of tourism. The lieutenant governor also serves on the Nevada Board of Transportation and the Board of Economic Development.
“I definitely have a lot of work ahead of me,” says Cano Burkhead, mother of three daughters. “After experiencing a one-time pandemic, I am committed to working endlessly to strengthen our economy and get our schools and families back on track.”
Some wondered why it took Sisolak three months to nominate someone for the position. “It’s up to me,” he said. “I would like to say here and now that this process took just as long to find the right person and we have the right person.”
The right person isn’t planning on making this a short-term role.
Cano Burkhead plans to run for re-election in 2022. Mainstream Democrats include Henderson Mayor Debra March and Democratic Rural Caucus Chair Kimi Cole, a retired construction project manager who, if elected, would be the first transgender person to take over a nationwide office in the United States
Four Republicans are running: Stavros Anthony, Las Vegas City Councilor, Dan Schwartz, former Nevada Treasurer, Henderson businessman John Miller, and perennial nominee Mack Miller.
Emphasis on Cano Burkhead’s background might be significant in a state that ranks fifth in the United States for its Hispanic and Latin American population. The US Census reports that approximately 30% of the population identify as Hispanic or Latino, and that just over 20% of Nevada voters – US citizens aged 18 and over – are Hispanic or Latino.
Nevada has had a Latino governor in recent years – Sisolak’s predecessor, Brian Sandoval, a Republican – and U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is the first Nevada woman and the first Latina to be elected to the Senate.
In her introductory coverage, Cano Burkhead answered questions in both English and Spanish, emphasizing, “We can get so much work done when I have a full semester,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.