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Governing Board

About the Governing Board

The REL Midwest Governing Board comprises a diverse group of stakeholders from across the Midwest region who represent the interests of states, districts, rural locations and populations, regional service agencies, professional organizations, and students in economically disadvantaged areas. The Governing Board oversees and guides the programmatic work of REL Midwest.

Members of the Governing Board

Illinois state image


  • Carmen Ayala, Ph.D., State Superintendent of Education, Illinois State Board of Education
  • Jason Helfer, Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Illinois State Board of Education
  • Jason Leahy, Ph.D., Executive Director, Illinois Principals Association
  • Kim Nelson, Executive Director of Early Childhood, Rockford Public School District
Indiana state image


  • Jennifer McCormick, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction, Indiana Department of Education
  • Kelly Wittman, Senior Advisor, Indiana Department of Education (designee for Jennifer McCormick)
  • Cole Dietrich, Assistant Director of Charter Schools and Special Programs, Indiana Department of Education
  • John Hill, Ed.D., Former Executive Director, National Rural Education Association
Iowa state image


  • Ryan Wise, Ed.L.D., Director, Iowa Department of Education
  • David Tilly, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Iowa Department of Education (designee for Ryan Wise)
  • Kay Schmalen, Science and Technology Consultant, Central Rivers Area Education Agency
Michigan state image


  • Sheila Alles, Interim State Superintendent, Michigan Department of Education
  • Venessa Keesler, Ph.D., Deputy Superintendent, Division of Educator, Student, and School Supports, Michigan Department of Education (designee for Sheila Alles)
  • Leah Breen, Director, Office of Educator Excellence, Michigan Department of Education
  • Jason Mellema, Superintendent, Ingham Intermediate School District
  • Chris Wigent, Executive Director, Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators
Minnesota state image


  • Mary Cathryn Ricker, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Greg Keith, Director of School Support, Minnesota Department of Education (designee for Mary Cathryn Ricker)
  • Gary Amoroso, Ph.D., Executive Director, Minnesota Association of School Administrators
  • Paula Palmer, Director of Career and College Success, Minnesota Department of Education
Ohio state image


  • Paolo DeMaria, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ohio Department of Education
  • Chris Woolard, Senior Executive Director, Accountability and Continuous Improvement, Ohio Department of Education (designee for Paolo DeMaria)
Wisconsin state image


  • Carolyn Stanford Taylor, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
  • Kurt Kiefer, Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries and Technology, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (designee for Carolyn Stanford Taylor)
  • Andreal Davis, Culturally Responsive Practices Coordinator, Wisconsin Response to Intervention Center
  • Madeline Hafner, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Minority Student Achievement Network, University of Wisconsin-Madison