Gov. Rick Snyder makes appointments to new 21st Century Education Commission

Friday, May 27, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced the appointments to the new 21st Century Education Commission, created by Executive Order 2016-6 to make recommendations for an education system that positions Michigan as a national leader in developing talent to address today’s economy demands.

The 25-member commission includes representatives from the education, business, government, and nonprofit communities with a particular interest or expertise in education. The members, proficient in education system design at the state, regional, and local levels, will focus on how to best organize, govern, fund and hold accountable Michigan’s system of public education to achieve successful education outcomes.

Membership consists of 16 gubernatorial appointees, four legislative appointees, the State Board of Education president or his designee, and four state department directors or their representatives.

The Governor’s appointees are:

Alloyd Blackmon, of Stevensville, is a Whirlpool executive on loan working with Michigan’s Great Southwest Strategic Leadership Council. She has been instrumental in working with the schools and the Benton Harbor Promise, as well as the Michigan College Access Network. Ms. Blackmon also serves on the board of the Dream Academy, a charter high school in Benton Harbor. She holds both a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in management from Purdue University.

Dave Campbell, of Kalamazoo, is the superintendent of the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency and a former superintendent of the Livingston ESA and Olivet Community Schools. He also served as past president of the Michigan Association of School Administrators and is a former teacher and high school principal. Campbell holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, a master’s in educational administration from Illinois State University, and has completed credits in educational leadership beyond master’s degree from Western Michigan University.

JoAnn Chavez, of Ann Arbor, is vice president and chief tax officer for DTE Energy and chair of the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on the DTE Energy Foundation Board and the Inforum Center for Leadership Board. Additionally, she is a finance committee member of Detroit Cristo Rey High School and advisory member of the Notre Dame Law School Board of Advisors. She received a bachelor's degree in business administration and a law degree, both from the University of Notre Dame.

Roger Curtis, of Onsted, is president of the Michigan International Speedway and former vice president of sales and marketing at California Speedway. Previously, he served as the senior director of Marketing and Sales at Richmond International Raceway and director of marketing and sales at Watkins Glen International. Mr. Curtis also serves as a school board member of Onsted Community Schools. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Indiana State University.

Dr. Randy Davis, of Marshall, is superintendent of Marshall Public Schools, where he has served since 2009. He is a former superintendent of Athens Area Schools, consultant for the Wayne County Department of Community Justice, and director of research for Starr Commonwealth. Davis was also a finalist for state superintendent in 2015. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy from Wittenberg University, a master’s degree in agency counseling from Oakland University, and a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Thomas Haas, of Allendale, is president of Grand Valley State University. He has served as a tenured faculty member, department chair, dean, vice president and president. Just prior to his appointment as president of Grand Valley State University in 2006, he was president of the State University of New York, Cobleskill. Haas is also a professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He has degrees from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy, the University of Michigan, Rensselaer Institute of Technology (New York), and the University of Connecticut. Haas has held fellowships at Western Michigan University and Yale, and received an honorary doctorate degree from Kingston University in the U.K. He will serve as chair.

Conway Jeffress, of Novi, has served as the president of Schoolcraft College since July 2001. During his tenure as president, he has overseen the development of several new buildings and programs and served as the vice president for instruction and student services. Jeffress holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Jefferson College, and both a master’s in education and Ph. D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

Brandy Johnson, of East Lansing, is the executive director of the Michigan College Access Network. Before joining as its founding executive director in 2010, she served in the Governor's Office as college access coordinator. Upon graduation, she served as a Teach for America corps member. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in public policy advocacy from Arizona State University and a master's degree in public policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

Ann Kalass, of Northville, is the president and CEO of Starfish Family Services. She is a former marketing communications manager and sales manager for Ford Motor Company. Kalass holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and her master’s in business administration from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.  In 2009, she received a certificate from Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives on Nonprofit Leadership program.

Doug Luciani, of Traverse City, is chief executive officer at TraverseCONNECT, the parent company of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and the multi-county economic development corporation, Venture North, as well as multiple collaborations. He is also co-chair of the Children’s Leadership Council of Michigan. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  

Matt Oney, of Gladstone, is a physics and chemistry teacher at Escanaba Area High School, was a 2014 Woodrow Wilson teaching fellow and TeachStrong ambassador, where he gave policy input in Washington DC. Oney holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Western State Colorado and is working on his Ph.D in plant molecular biology from Michigan State University.

Doug Ross, of West Bloomfield, is president of the American Promise Schools and a former state senator, Michigan Commerce director, and U.S. assistant secretary of labor. In 1999, he formed the non-profit New Urban Learning and started seven university prep charter schools in Detroit. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

Cindy Schumacher, of Mt. Pleasant, is executive director of the Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University. Formerly, she was a chief deputy director at the Center and began her career as director of fiscal performance and accountability. Schumacher holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in business administration, both from Central Michigan University.

Kevin Stotts, of Grand Rapids, is the president of Talent 2025. He formerly served as vice president of Community Programs for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, executive director of Hello West Michigan, executive director of Education Freedom Fund, and director of Advance for Governor John Engler. He holds an associate’s degree from Northwestern Michigan College, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from James Madison College at Michigan State University.

Teresa Weatherall Neal, of Grand Rapids, is superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools. Prior to this position, she served in the district for more than 35 years as a former assistant superintendent and director of student activities and compliance. Ms. Weatherall Neal currently serves as vice-chair of the Kent School Services Network Board. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Grand Valley State University, a master’s certificate in educational leadership from Western Michigan University, and is a graduate of the Michigan Leadership Institute of the Superintendent’s Academy.

Eileen Weiser, of Ann Arbor, is in her second term on the State Board of Education (1999-2006, 2011- 2018). Mrs. Weiser holds piano performance degrees from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. Previously, she served as executive director of the McKinley Foundation and was recognized for her work by the Detroit Free Press. She has also been named one of “Detroit’s Most Influential Women” and Michigan’s Arts Patron of the Year. She served two terms as a board member for the National Assessment Governing Board, has served on the boards of The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, Michigan’s Attorney Discipline Board, the Midwest Higher Education Compact, and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. She is currently a board member for the Michigan Science Center, and a gubernatorial appointee to Education Commission of the States.

Legislative Appointees are:

Steven Cook, of Lansing, is the president of the Michigan Education Association. He had served as vice president of the association since 2006. Prior to that, he had served as secretary-treasurer of the association since 1991. President of the Lansing Educational Assistants from 1981 to 1993, Cook was a paraprofessional for 15 years in the Lansing Public Schools. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University with emphasis in history, economics and political science. Cook will serve as House Minority Leader Tim Greimel’s appointee.

Nate Walker, of Detroit, is the K-12 Policy Analyst for The American Federation of Teachers Michigan. Prior to his position, he taught for the Detroit Public Schools and at a charter school in Detroit. He also served on the advisory council to the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness. Mr. Walker has a master’s in teaching from Wayne State University and master’s in urban education policy from Brown University. Walker will serve as Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich’s appointee.   

Scott Hughes, of Byron Center, currently serves as Majority Counsel for the Michigan Senate. Previously, he practiced law at Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones PLC where he represented a diverse range of clients in multiple areas of law. Scott received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, where he graduated with High Honors from the Honors College, and a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, summa cum laude, where he served as Articles Editor for the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review. Scott previously served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Camp Blodgett, on the Board of Directors of Energy Education for Michigan Inc., and as Vice-Chair of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Environmental Law Section. Hughes will serve as Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof’s appointee.

Peter Ruddell, of East Lansing, is a partner at RWC Advocacy. He has worked for a variety of legislators, most notably as an aide to the Senate Majority Leader and also was campaign manager to three Supreme Court Justices. He received his juris doctorate and bachelor’s from Michigan State University. Ruddell will serve as Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter’s appointee.

Department Representatives include:

  • John C. Austin, President of the State Board of Education
  • Brian J. Whiston, State Superintendent
  • Nick A. Khouri, State Treasurer
  • John Roberts, Director of the State Budget Office
  • Stephanie Comai, Director of the Talent Investment Agency.

Members will serve terms expiring at the pleasure of the governor. These appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

The full text of Executive Order 2016-6 is available here.