NSBA Rural Education Virtual Summit


Building Foundations That Empower Education in Rural Communities

Frank Henderson
Frank Henderson
Immediate Past-President, National School Boards Association (NSBA)
Board Member, Seaman USD 345 (KS)

Frank S. Henderson, Jr. is the Immediate Past President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Henderson was elected NSBA Secretary-Treasurer while serving in his second term as the association's Western Region Director and as President of the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC). He also served two terms on the Board of Directors of NSBA's National Black Council of School Board Members. Henderson has served on nearly every NSBA Committee and chaired many of them.

Henderson is a Past President of the Kansas Association of School Boards after serving several years on its Board of Directors and the Legislative Committee. He is in his seventeenth year on the USD 345 Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas. Additionally, Henderson completed a term on the Board of Directors of the Kansas State High School Activities Association. He was appointed to the Governor's Advisory Council on Education and has served as a commissioner on the Education Commission of the States.

Henderson, a public policy consultant, worked in Kansas State Social Services and the Criminal Justice System for over 25 years, providing services to those in poverty, the mentally ill, as well as victims and offenders. Henderson was appointed Chairman of the Kansas Parole Board, which he served for four years. Additionally, he served in the Office of the Attorney General for seventeen years as the Executive Director of the Kansas Crime Victims Compensation Board, holding the offices of President of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards and the Kansas Organization for Victim Assistance.

Henderson holds a bachelor's degree from Washburn University and a master's degree from Kansas State University. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Living the Dream Scales award for Excellence in Education Leadership, as well as awards for community leadership.

Tiffany Jackson

Tiffany Jackson
Director of Membership Services
Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB)

Tiffany Jackson joined the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) team after serving 12 years on the Aleutians East Borough school board, nine years on the AASB Board of Directors, and three years on the NSBA Board of Directors. Before joining AASB, she worked for her Tribe as the Executive Director. Tiffany is Tlingit and Aleut, born and raised in Alaska. She and her husband have three amazing children, one who graduated from, and two who currently attend, Alaska public schools.

Sue Ceglowski, Esq.
Sue Ceglowski, Esq.
Executive Director, Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA)

Sue Ceglowski is the Executive Director of the Vermont School Boards Association. She is an attorney licensed in the State of Vermont and a graduate of Cornell University and Vermont Law School. Sue served as a school board member and board chair in a rural Vermont school district for thirteen years.

Steve Bailey
Steven Bailey
Executive Director, Maine School Boards Association (MSBA)

Steve has over 50 years of experience in public education in Maine and New Hampshire. He has been a Superintendent of Schools and Assistant Superintendent in Maine for ten years, covering the following governance structures: AOS, CSD, School Union, and Municipal, and has participated with many SAD/RSU Boards in trainings and workshops.

Steve holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership, a Master of Education, and a Bachelor of Science in Health/Physical Education. He has taken classes through the Harvard Graduate School of Education focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. He is the Past President of the Maine School Superintendents Association and previously was very active in the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). He was honored as the Maine National Distinguished Principal in 1996 and Maine Superintendent of the Year in 2015. He is a member of the National School Boards Association and AASA, where he actively participates in the leadership trainings for state executives and school board officers. Bailey is in his seventh year as Executive Director of the Maine School Management Association (MSMA), where he continues the strong MSMA tradition of leadership to school boards and superintendents.

Unlocking Potential: Panel Discussion Addressing Educational Challenges in Rural Communities

Stephanie Thompson
Stephanie Thompson
President, Farmington Municipal Schools Board of Education (NM)
Western Regional Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA) American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) Council of School Board Members

Focused on people and integrity-led progression, Stephanie represents the Farmington Municipal Schools (FMS) Board of Education as President. The district strives to make high-quality education accessible and equitable to one of the most demographically diverse student populations in New Mexico. In addition to her FMS Board responsibilities, she is a member of the district equity council, representative on the New Mexico School Board Association (NMSBA) Board of Directors, NMSBA Legislative/Resolution committee member, and Western Regional Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) Council.

Locally, Stephanie serves on the boards of Four Corners Economic Development and Four Corners Home for Children. Professionally, she is a mechanical engineer and a program lead preparing rising professionals for key technical engineering roles. Overall, Stephanie firmly believes that building strong educational and opportune futures starts by instilling positive trajectories today. She understands that the most successful outcomes begin with the formation of strong, shared-value teams. Stephanie advocates for STEM, education, and community and for serving as a liaison between vision and actionable outcomes.

Emily Smith
Emily Smith
School Board Member, Helix School District Board of Directors (OR)

Emily Smith serves on the board for the Helix School District in rural Eastern Oregon, which has an ADM of 190 students K-12. Emily grew up on a dairy farm on the Oregon coast. Professionally, her background is in nursing, and she is the Director of Marketing and Communications at her local critical access hospital. She serves on the OSBA Board of Directors and has helped to create the Rural Advisory Committee within the OSBA membership to better serve rural school board members in Oregon. Emily lives on a small hobby farm with her husband and three young children.

Bill Biermann

Bill Biermann
Superintendent of Schools
Goodland USD 352 (KS)

Bill Biermann is the Superintendent of Schools for the Goodland Unified School District 352 in Kansas. He holds a district certification from Fort Hays State University, a Master of Science in Education with a focus on Educational Administration K-12 Licensure, and a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in Mathematics/Computer Science and Business from Emporia State University. Bill has managed several rural schools and implemented various successful initiatives, including a K-12 1-to-1 iPad initiative and a successful $15 Million Bond Issue.

John Wittler
John Wittler
President, Vilas School Board (CO)
Past President, Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB)
Executive Director, Ogallala Commons; President and Lead Consultant, Vanguard Strategic

John is an entrepreneur, thinker, and leader who has dedicated his career to improving the lives of those around him. Growing up on a farm and ranch with three brothers in the remote southeast corner of Colorado, he learned the universal importance of gratitude, perspective, hard work, and intrinsic motivation. John currently serves as executive director of Ogallala Commons, a nonprofit working to develop rural communities using an asset-based approach to nurturing leaders who help human and natural communities thrive. John is a former president of the Colorado Association of School Boards board of directors and still serves as president of the board for Vilas School District, a small district with 85 students K-12. John is an innovative leader, passionate about securing the future of rural communities by expanding access to educational opportunities for rural youth. John lives in Baca County, Colorado, with his wife, Trina, and their three children, Alea, Emma, and Brock.

Stories from the Field: Revitalizing Rural Education — Insights and Innovations for Success

Julian Cunningham
Julia Cunningham
Director, Rural Engagement Office of Communications and Outreach
U.S. Department of Education

Most recently, Julia was the Deputy Director for State Engagement for The Hunt Institute. In this role, she primarily focused on overseeing relationship building, strategy, and program development to support The Institute's expansion into new states through the state legislators retreat model. Before joining The Hunt Institute, Julia was a fifth- through eighth-grade writing teacher at American Horse School in the Oglala Lakota Nation in southwestern South Dakota. After teaching, she earned a master's degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she co-founded the Harvard Ed School Rural Educators Alliance. Julia earned a bachelor's degree in English from Fordham University.

Dr. Holly Norton
Dr. Holly Norton
Colorado State Archaeologist & Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer

Dr. Norton received her bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of South Carolina and a master's and doctorate from Syracuse University in anthropology with her dissertation "Estate by Estate: The Landscape of the 1733 St. Jan Slave Rebellion." She is a historical anthropologist who has conducted both pre-European occupation and historical-archaeological investigations in North America and the Caribbean, as well as historical-architectural surveys, for a variety of state and federal agencies and private environmental firms, including the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the National Park Service. Norton currently serves as the Colorado State Archaeologist and the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer at History Colorado, where she focuses on serving the public through stewardship of Colorado's diverse cultural resources.

Robyn Niayuq Burke

Robyn Niayuq Burke
President, North Slope Borough School District (NSBSD) Board of Education
Secretary/Treasurer, Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) Board of Directors

Robyn Niayuq Burke is Iñupiaq from Utqiaġvik.

Niayuq is the granddaughter of Fannie Kuutuuq Akpik. Robyn is married to Merlin Johnson Jr., from Unalakleet, and together they have three children: Dontae, Rowan, and Maevyn.

Robyn was first appointed to the North Slope Borough School District Board of Education in June 2020 and then was elected for her first term in October 2020. Robyn currently serves as the School Board President and previously served as Board Clerk for the 2021-2022 and part of the 2020-2021 school years. Robyn serves on the Policy Review Committee, Legislative Committee, and Certificated Evaluation Committee with her local board and currently serves on the Nunaaqqiurat Tumitchiaŋit quadrilateral committee.

Steering Committee and Student Outcomes work group.

Robyn serves as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Ilisagvik College. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Human Resources for the North Slope Borough School District.

Robyn was raised by an educator, and it was through her grandmother’s hard work and dedication to maintaining the Iñupiaq language and culture that her own passion blossomed. Robyn’s heart is in education and service, and she feels fortunate that she has the opportunity to contribute and serve in this capacity. Her work and motivation are in remembrance and recognition of her Aaka Fannie. 

Hasan Davis J.D
Hasan Davis J.D.
Hasan Davis Solutions L.L.C.

As a youth, Hasan barely stayed one step ahead of the law. After an early arrest as a pre-teen, expulsion from an alternative school, and a lifelong struggle with learning and behavior challenges (ADHD, Dysgraphia, and Dyslexia), Hasan earned his GED diploma and decided to leave the life he knew well for one he could hardly imagine.

Hasan talked his way into Berea College in Kentucky. Although expelled twice, he returned a third time, determined to prove that failure would not be his lasting legacy. With the renewed mindset and the proper supports, Hasan earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Berea and his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Hasan has been recognized for his professional and personal efforts in serving children, youth, and families across a continuum of care from early education to careers in education, juvenile justice, child welfare, and the arts. He is a Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership Fellow, an EdTrust Family Education Fellow, an Annie E. Casey Children and Family Fellow, and the recipient of a Council of State Governments Henry Toll Fellowship.

While leading complex systems and organizations, Hasan has held to the belief that all children can find success when the adults in their world create and nurture hope. In 2012, Hasan became Kentucky’s fifth Commissioner of Juvenile Justice, where he was instrumental in reforming the state’s juvenile justice system.

Currently, Hasan provides technical assistance to youth-serving organizations across the country. In 2014, he founded Hasan Davis Solutions to continue his work supporting youth and families nationwide by creating meaningful engagement and training experiences for the amazing teams of professionals committed to youth success in justice, education, and social service environments.

Hasan is the author of four books and an actor, developing living history programs that highlight the important but often unacknowledged contributions of African Americans in the shaping of America. He lives in Berea, Kentucky, with his wife Dreama, a national expert in rural access and education, and their two sons.