Pence announces appointments for State Board of Education

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Gov. Mike Pence

INDIANAPOLIS (May 27, 2015) – Gov. Mike Pence announced appointments to the newly revamped State Board of Education.

The new board follows the passage of Senate Enrolled Act 1, which reconstituted the board and changed its composition. Under the reorganization, the governor has eight appointments with staggered terms. They’ll serve with two legislative appointments and the superintendent of public instruction. Of the governor’s appointments, no more than five can be from the same political party. At least six must have professional experience in the field of education and only one member can be appointed from a particular congressional district.

Pence called the board a “fresh start” and said members represent a wide cross-section of Hoosiers from urban, suburban and rural school districts. The board of education has frequently clashed with Superintendent Glenda Ritz since her election. Board members Andrea Neal and Dan Elsener asked not to be considered for reappointment. Tony Walker, Troy Albert and Brad Oliver were not reappointed.

Here are the new appointees:

  • Eddie Melton, Merrillville, First Congressional District (will serve on the SBOE through June 30, 2016) – Melton works as Manager of Federal Governmental Relations and Community Relations at Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO). He currently serves on the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males after being appointed by Gov. Pence. He also currently serves as Midwest Regional Director on the American Association of Blacks in Energy. He received the “20 Under 40” Young Professionals Award from The NWI Times Media Company in 2011, and received his bachelor’s degree from Calumet College of St. Joseph.
  • Dr. Vince Bertram, Zionsville, Fifth Congressional District (will serve on the SBOE through June 30, 2017) – Bertram currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Project Lead The Way (PLTW), headquartered in Indianapolis. He has also served as superintendent of Indiana’s third-largest urban school district and, in 2014, he was appointed by the U.S. Department of State to serve as the STEM education expert for the United States Speaker and Specialist Program. Bertram became a New York Times bestselling author in November 2014 with the release of his book, One Nation Under-Taught: Solving America’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Crisis. He received his undergraduate, master’s, specialist, and doctorate degrees from Ball State University, a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University, and an executive certificate in strategy and innovation from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
  • Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, Greenwood, Ninth Congressional District (will serve on the SBOE through June 30, 2016) – Kwiatkowski currently serves as Assistant Superintendent for School Improvement M.S.D. of Warren Township in Indianapolis. Previously, she held a variety of positions at the Indiana Department of Education, including Director of School Turnaround, Director of Differentiated Learning, and Director of the Title I program. She received her undergraduate degree from Indiana State University, her master’s degrees in elementary education and educational administration from Indiana University, and her educational specialist degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. She is currently working on her doctorate degree in education from Oakland City University.

Pence reappointed the following individuals:

  • Dr. David Freitas, Granger, Second Congressional District (reappointed through June 30, 2018) – Freitas has served on the SBOE since he was appointed in June 2013. He has a vast array of experience and has served as a University Vice Provost, a College Dean of Education for more than 20 years, a professor of graduate-level university courses in educational leadership for more than 30 years, an elected city school board member, a State Department of Education official, a national and international invited speaker on education issues, a consultant for the U.S. Department of Education, and a public school teacher and administrator.
  • Cari Whicker, Uniondale, Third Congressional District (reappointed through June 30, 2019) – Whicker has served on the SBOE since her appointment in April 2012. She currently serves as a sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher at Riverview Middle School in Huntington.
  • Sarah O’Brien, Avon, Fourth Congressional District (reappointed through June 30, 2019) – O’Brien has served on the SBOE since her appointment in April 2009. O’Brien currently works at River Birch Elementary School and will teach fourth grade next year.
  • Gordon Hendry, Indianapolis, Seventh Congressional District (reappointed through June 30, 2017) – Hendry was first appointed in September 2013. He is First Vice President of CBRE, Inc., where he serves as the Midwest regional leader of the company’s Public Institutions and Education Solutions Group.
  • BJ Watts, Evansville, Eighth Congressional District (reappointed through June 30, 2018) – Watts has served on the SBOE since his original appointment in 2012. He has taught at the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) since 2001, is a member of the Evansville Teachers Association and the Indiana State Teachers Association, and currently serves on the National Association of State Boards of Education.

In addition to the members appointed by the governor, Steve Yager and Byron L. Ernest will serve on the SBOE. Senate President Pro Tem David Long appointed Yager while House Speaker Brian Bosma appointed Ernest.

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