Dear Friends, 

Don Shalvey, the Co-CEO of San Joaquin A+, long-time resident of San Joaquin County, and national educational trailblazer for more than a half century, died Saturday at the age of 79.

Don was an amazing leader, educator, person, and friend – and he lived a life that touched many people, as is exemplified by the outpouring of support he has received in the last few days, which we encourage you to read below.

We at San Joaquin A+ know our work together was just a part of the great story of his life, and the arc of impactful work he did in education over the last 50 years. We will treasure the fact that he chose to use his last years to build an organization and team to serve our youth in Stockton and San Joaquin County. He truly believed right through his health battles last year that if we bring people together from local school districts, charter schools, non-profit organizations, businesses, and county governments to collaborate, we can improve education here in a way that will create a brighter future for the students of this region.

As Don said after leaving the Gates Foundation to relaunch A+: “Here in the San Joaquin Valley, the quality of what we cultivate – our grapes, walnuts, cherries, and tomatoes – is known for being among the very best in the world. We envision a world where our education system is known for the same high quality, where we cultivate minds as well as we cultivate crops.”

And as a long-time resident of Linden, this sentiment was deeply personal. He enjoyed nothing more than inviting local educators and leaders over to sit under a tree on his ranch to solve problems big and small, and sometimes just to get to know each other a little bit better. We know many of you had similar experiences, and we encourage you to share them with us as we look for more ways to honor and celebrate his legacy in the coming weeks and months.

He is survived here in the county by his wife Sue, who also is a lifelong educator, and two children: his daughter Megan (another educator), along with her husband Luke and his granddaughter Grace, and his son Brian, a former Navy SEAL and a current Pacific student. They appreciate all of the well-wishes they are receiving and are celebrating his memory privately with family at this time. They have shared that they are planning a public memorial in the coming months. We will share this information when it is available. 

In the meantime, if you would like to reach out to the Shalvey family, or simply share any sentiments you would like remembered, we welcome you to send them to us at or to our address below:

San Joaquin A+ [Attn: Kai Kung],

6731 Herndon Place,

Stockton, CA 95219

Thank you for your support during this sensitive time. As one contributor below says well: “This field, and work to genuinely improve the condition and experience of kids, would be further along if more people lived like Don. He certainly did his part and we’re better for it.”


Kai Kung and the San Joaquin A+ team

Articles in the last few days about Don for your reference: