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Press Release

Friday, November 14, 2014

CCSSO Welcomes New President and Board of Directors

Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

San Diego, CA (November 14, 2014) -- The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today announces its 2014-2015 Board of Directors. Elections took place during the CCSSO 2014 Annual Policy Forum and Business Meeting in San Diego.

June Atkinson, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, was named CCSSO president, and Lillian Lowery, Maryland Superintendent of Schools, was elected as president-elect.

In addition, CCSSO members elected new board members Tony Evers, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Christopher Koch, Illinois Superintendent of Education, to serve three-year terms.

CCSSO's Board of Directors manages the overall business affairs of the Council and is the governing body of the organization. The board is composed of the president, the president-elect, the past president, and six directors elected by CCSSO members.

"The Board of Directors serves a critical role in driving the collective action of the Council of Chief State School Officers," said Executive Director Chris Minnich. "I look forward to working with our new President June Atkinson and all the members of the Board as we continue to ensure all students participating in our public education system - regardless of background - graduate prepared for college, careers and life."

Atkinson served last year as CCSSO's president-elect. She succeeds Terry Holliday, Kentucky Commissioner of Education, who will remain on the board as past president.

"I am honored to serve as president of the Council of Chief State School Officers," Atkinson said. "Throughout my career I have valued the leadership and support that CCSSO has provided to the nation's public school leaders. I look forward to serving in this role at such an important time in the history of public schools."

The following is a list of CCSSO's 2014-2015 Board of Directors:
President: June Atkinson, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction
President-Elect: Lillian Lowery, Maryland Superintendent of Schools
Past President: Terry Holliday, Kentucky Commissioner of Education
Board Member: John Barge, Georgia School Superintendent 
Board Member: Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota Commissioner of Education
Board Member: Tony Evers, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction
Board Member: Deborah Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Education
Board Member: Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education
Board Member: Christopher Koch, Illinois Superintendent of Education

Read more about each of CCSSO's Board of Directors for the 2014-2015 year below:

June Atkinson has served as State Superintendent of Public Schools in North Carolina since August 2005, and holds the added distinction of being the first woman elected public school superintendent of that state. In addition to overseeing nearly 1.5 million students in more than 2,500 public schools, Dr. Atkinson is focused on revitalizing the state's curriculum and accountability programs, and offering students the technical skills that will better prepare them for a 21st Century economy. 

Lillian Lowery was appointed Maryland State Superintendent of Schools and Secretary-Treasurer of the State Board in 2012. She had previously served as Delaware's Secretary of Education when the state was selected as one of the first to receive a Race to the Top grant. Lowery, who has worked in education since 1976, spent 17 years as a classroom teacher and now leads a state education agency overseeing more than 854,000 students.

Terry Holliday was selected as Kentucky's commissioner of education in 2009. He has broad experience across many levels in education, having served as superintendent, director of accountability and principal, as well as director of instrumental music and band director. Dr. Holliday is adept at communicating across multiple channels to reach students, parents and members of the community. He writes a weekly blog and often hosts webcasts for superintendents, principals and teachers.

John Barge was elected State School Superintendent in Georgia in 2010. He has spent more than two decades in education, teaching in middle school and high school, as well as serving as an assistant principal and principal. He has also directed the Career, Technical and Agriculture Education for the Georgia Department of Education. Dr. Barge was serving as the director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction with the Bartow County School System when he was elected as the state's top school chief.

Brenda Cassellius was appointed Minnesota's Commissioner of Education in 2010, leading an agency that oversees more than 2,000 public schools and more than 837,000 students. She has spent more than two decades in education as a classroom teacher, administrator and school system superintendent in both Minnesota and Tennessee. Dr. Cassellius has worked to start free, full-day kindergarten for all Minnesota students, and supported legislation ensuring a statewide focus on every child reading well by 3rd grade.

Tony Evers has twice been elected Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction, capping a more than three-decade career serving Wisconsin students at every level. He worked as a principal and school district administrator, among other roles, before leading the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. His work is focused on transforming that state's education system to ensure every child graduates college and career ready.

Deborah A. Gist was appointed Rhode Island Commissioner of Education in 2009, directing a department that oversees nearly 143,000 students.  Dr. Gist, who started her career 25 years ago as an elementary school teacher, joined Rhode Island's education department from the nation's capital, where she served as State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. In Rhode Island, Dr. Gist has implemented evaluations based on evidence of growth and achievement and supported the development of curriculum aligned to college- and career-ready standards.

Kevin Huffman was appointed Tennessee's commissioner of education in 2011, nearly two decades after he began his education career teaching students in English and Spanish. He attended law school, and for a time, represented school districts and state departments of education, focusing on policy and litigation matters. Since taking the helm at Tennessee's education department, the state has, among other things, implemented a rigorous evaluation system focused on feedback for teachers.

Christopher A. Koch was appointed Illinois State Superintendent of Education in 2006 after serving for more than a decade in several capacities within the Illinois Board of Education. He has extensive teaching experience as well, including working in a college preparatory school, a youth detention center and a psychiatric hospital. Now, as the Illinois state chief, Dr. Koch has worked to bring coherence among state standards, curriculum, assessments and college entry requirements.


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.