Josette Ayres is President of PPS-Waco. Mrs. Ayres serves as a member of the Waco Independent School District’s Advanced Academic Advisory Council, NCLB Parent Advisory Council, School Health Advisory Council, and the Student Safety Council. She has served as the PTA President at Hillcrest Elementary PDS and as a Parent Representative for the Campus Decision Making Committee at Hillcrest PDS and Tennyson Middle School. A native of Albany, Georgia, she is a graduate of the Dougherty County Public Schools and Spelman College. Mrs. Ayres and her husband, Sherman, are the proud parents of two daughters; Morgan, a graduate of Spelman College and the Lorena public schools, and Kennedy a rising Waco High School student.
Steve Calloway serves as President of the PPS National Board. He is a founding member of the PPS-Columbia (MO) chapter. He has served as board member, vice-president, president, and currently serves as advisory board chair. He has been active in the public schools as a member of the Health Services Advisory Council, the Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee, and as co-chair of the Achievement Gap Task Force. In 2006 he was elected to the Board of Education and served one term, including a year as board vice-president. A graduate of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Steve has worked at University of Missouri Health Care since 1978 in a variety of roles from staff pharmacist to manager. He is involved in numerous professional organizations and advocacy issues at the local, state and national level and recently served on the MO-HITECH advisory board. Steve and his wife, Iris, have two college-educated adult children, both successful K-12 graduates of Columbia Public Schools.
Alicia Edgar is co-founder of the PPS chapter, Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle where she served for five years as a board member and as president. She received her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington with a focus on non-profit management. Her experience includes 13 years at the University of Washington where she was a development director and major gifts officer. In addition to her work with PPS, Alicia serves on numerous non-profit boards in the Seattle area, works as a fundraising and special events consultant, and is an active amateur musician. She and her husband are the parents of a son who attends middle school in Seattle Public Schools.
Arnold F. Fege is President of Public Advocacy for Kids, a national group devoted to federal and national education and child advocacy policy with a focus on low-income and special needs children and families. As former Director of Public Engagement and Advocacy for the Public Education Network (PEN), Arnie is co-author of the PEN Guide on NCLB Parental and Community Involvement. He has over 30 years of public education and child advocacy experience and has experience as a public school teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and desegregation director. As a staff person for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, he helped draft provisions in the original ESEA legislation and was present when President Lyndon Johnson signed the measure into law in March 1965 and has been involved in each reauthorization of ESEA. Fege is the recipient of numerous awards including the 1983 Roosevelt Center Congressional Child Advocacy Award, the 1998 National PTA President’s Recognition for Outstanding Child Advocacy, and the 2000 Nelson Mandela Award for International Education Leadership and Social Justice.
Anne Henderson is senior consultant for community organizing and engagement for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. Since 1981, she has steadily tracked the research on how engaging families can improve student achievement, particularly among students in diverse and low-income communities. She has also studied effective practice to involve families in their children’s education, both at home and in school improvement. Her most recent book is Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships, written with Karen Mapp, Vivian Johnson, and Don Davies. A native of Trenton, New Jersey, Anne graduated from Oberlin College, and received a Master’s Degree in politics from Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University. She and her husband, Basil, live in Washington, DC.
Jeanne Jehl is a senior consultant to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, where she leads the Healthy Readers Team, developing strategies to engage communities in supporting children’s health and learning. Focusing on the critical relationships among schools, families and communities, she has worked in local and federal agencies and in the non-profit sector. She served as an assistant to the superintendent in the San Diego City Schools, working on social services to children and on funding for school facilities. In the U.S. Department of Education, she directed a study of school-linked services for children and families, and she worked with the White House Domestic Policy Council to promote federal-state partnerships to strengthen families.
As an independent consultant, she has worked with the Coalition for Community Schools, the Collaborative Communications Group, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Jeanne and her husband, Joseph, live in Annapolis, Maryland.
Debra Jennings is Executive Co-Director of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network in Newark (NJ). Debra’s foray into public education advocacy began with her deep concern for African-American parents to be empowered with the information and skills to help their children achieve academic excellence. Debra serves on a number of state and national level boards and committees, including the advisory boards of the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University, the Data Accountability Center, and the National Center for Response to Instruction. She is the mother of two young women, one of whom received special education services and the other who participated in a Title I Basic Skills program. Debra attended Chicago Public Schools and is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Economics. She currently lives with her husband, Major, in Montclair, New Jersey, where she is a former member of the local board of education.
Cleveland Heights, OH
After working for more than thirty years in education advocacy, Susan “Susie” Kaeser is now a volunteer in the Cleveland Heights (OH) schools. She formerly served as Executive Director of the Citizen’s Council for Ohio Schools and Reaching Heights, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public School Foundation. She is a graduate of Grinnell College, and received Master’s Degrees in Anthropology and Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Susie and her husband, Jerry, have two children and live in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Brewster Rhoads is a co-founder of the Cincinnati Parents for Public Schools chapter. He served as National PPS Board President from 1999 to 2001. Rhoads is the Executive Director of the Green Umbrella, a coalition of over 100 green and sustainability non-profits, businesses, educational institutions and governmental entities working to protect the environment and improve the quality of life in Greater Cincinnati. He has spent the past 30 years as a consultant for political candidates and ballot issues and most recently served as the SW Ohio Regional Director for Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He is married to Ann Lugbill, and they have two daughters (Elisabeth and Caroline) who both graduated from Cincinnati Public Schools.
Neal Robinson is an active member of the PPS-Jackson (MS) chapter. He graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Jackson State University and currently works with the US Department of Commerce. Formerly the Managing General Partner of an independent express freight contractor. He also is the founder of an entrepreneurial education project for middle and high school students and conducts marketing seminars/training for the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s rural transit system. He was a sales representative for 9 years with Warner Lambert, a fortune 500 company. He has experience in medical education, public relations, and volunteer recruitment with the American Cancer Society and Hinds County Health Department.
Ann Rosewater has worked for advocacy groups, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and at the congressional staff level to advance opportunity for low-income children and families. She is the author of many publications including, most recently, “Addressing Domestic Violence, Child Safety and Well-Being: Collaborative Strategies for California Families.” She is a graduate of Wellesley College and earned her Master’s Degree from Columbia University. She lives in Atlanta.
Debbie Rude is a native of Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Political Science-International Relations. Debbie worked for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and for Baxter Healthcare in both Detroit and Chicago. She was active as a parent in a number of organizations, including district/school parent advisory committees and The Gallup Organization. In 2010, Debbie was the lead parent in the establishment of Parents for Public Schools – PPS of Greater Kalamazoo. She served as ED of the new organization, established a board and a strategic plan, and built alliances with other organizations. She also co-authored an article published in Phi Delta Kappan entitled “Preparing Parents to Advocate for a Child with Autism” in 2012. Debbie now lives in Northbrook, IL, with her husband Mike and their three children. Her passion is to engage families in the national conversation to improve public education.
Sharolyn Smith serves as Vice President of the Parents for Public Schools of Jackson (PPSJ) Board of Directors, Resource Development Chair and a PPSJ Parent Leadership Institute - Certified Parent Leader graduate. She holds her certification earned in "Excellence in Action" Nonprofit Management Certification Program from the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits. She is a native Jacksonian and has worked as an accountant and treasurer in private, governmental and not-for-profit organizations. She has enjoyed serving on many boards and committees with a mission in providing services in Leadership, Empowerment, Advancement and Development (L.E.A.D.®) for women, children and their families. Sharolyn is married and has two adult sons. She enjoys extending her passions and talents to the support of quality public schools for all children to have equal access and opportunity to an excellence in education."
New York City, NY
Tanya St. Julien is an uncompromising community advocate working to engage families in school decision-making processes. She currently serves as the Senior Director of Enrollment for Exceptional Students at the NYC Department of Education, where she focuses on policies that encourage equitable school placements of exceptional student populations. Tanya has also partnered with several community-based organizations, including Legal Outreach, Inc. and the NJ Law & Education Empowerment Project Inc., to increase college readiness and success in urban communities. In her work with Parents for Public Schools San Francisco, Tanya, who began as a Education Pioneers Fellow, revised training curriculum to reflect a broader parent base, while working on the organization’s strategic plan to account for expanding capabilities and future objectives in communities of color. Tanya holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from Boston University and an Ed.M in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University. A dedicated foodie and mentor, you may find her in a city near you behind a stack of baked goodies and a group of teenagers.
Chot is one of the founding members of the PPS chapter of Cincinnati where he served as president for five years and continues as an advisory committee member. He received his Masters in Special Education from the University of Cincinnati and taught in Cincinnati Public Schools for four years. His experience includes membership on the Parent Advisory Board and the Calendar Committee of Cincinnati Public Schools. Committee work within his daughters’ high schools was focused on the Facilities Committee, the Foundation, and parent boards which led to his receiving awards for exemplary parent involvement from both schools. He and his wife are the parents of two daughters who graduated from Cincinnati Public Schools. He is currently a Project Manager for Ryan Remodeling.
Doug Wells is the past president of the PPS National Board of Directors. He is currently a board member and formerly served as President of the PPS-Portland chapter. His other education involvement includes chairing the Portland citizen's budget review committee and as a member of the Mayor's education cabinet. Doug chairs Oregon’s Quality Education Commission, which serves as an advisory commission to the governor and legislature. Doug and his wife, Neeley, have a daughter in the 8th grade in the Portland Public Schools. They are actively involved in Stand for Children. He works as Chief Financial & Operating Officer of Children's Institute in Portland (OR).