Tom Gentzel, the Executive Director & CEO of the National School Boards Association, is an unabashed advocate for public education and the community leadership essential to its success. He has worked on behalf of, and advocated for, school boards and effective local governance for nearly 40 years.
In his leadership role at NSBA, he heads a staff of more than 70 persons and serves a membership comprised of state associations of school boards and their more than 13,000-member school districts. Gentzel is the primary spokesperson for NSBA, represents its interests in various forums, and is a frequent presenter at conferences and events across the country.
NSBA’s mission is to work with and through state school boards associations to advocate for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. Headquartered in Alexandria, VA, NSBA represents the school board perspective in Congress, federal government agencies, the courts, and national organizations that impact education, and promotes the achievements of public education and the role of school boards through an extensive public advocacy role. Gentzel joined NSBA in 2012, becoming the organization’s sixth chief executive since it was founded in 1940.
Prior to NSBA, Gentzel served as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association for 11 years. His career at PSBA started in 1980 as a lobbyist and, five years later, he was named head of the association’s Office of Governmental and Member Relations, a position he held for more than 16 years. He became PSBA’s CEO in 2001, directing a staff of 150 persons who provided publications, conferences and seminars, as well as insurance programs, management and legal assistance, and advocacy services for local school officials.
Gentzel represents NSBA on the board of the Learning First Alliance, a coalition consisting of 13 of the country’s leading education organizations, having served as the group’s 2016-17 chair, and is a member of the National Board of Counselors for the Arizona State University School of Civic & Economic Thought and Leadership. He is a former chair of NSBA’s Organization of State Association Executive Directors and previously served on the board of the National School Public Relations Association.
Gentzel was the 2014 recipient of the Edward Donley Award by the Education Policy and Leadership Center and, in 2017, was named one of 20 national education Thought Leaders by TrustEd.
Gentzel earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Development and a Master of Public Administration degree from The Pennsylvania State University. He is a former member of the university’s Outreach Advisory Board, delivered the 2017 Commencement Address to its College of Education and was the recipient of the college’s 2018 Service to Penn State Award.
He and his wife, Sherrin, are parents of three sons and grandparents of two boys and three girls.