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State Board of Education Members

Allan B. Taylor, Chairperson — Hartford

Allan B. Taylor was reappointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2017 and has served as the chairperson of the Board since 2005. Mr. Taylor recently retired as the legislative and legal advisor to the Hartford City Council, after 37 years in the private practice of law.  He has an extensive record of public service in the Hartford community. He earned an A.B. from Harvard College; an M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Mr. Taylor has served on the Board since 1994, and serves as Chair of the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee. Mr. Taylor was elected as the Northeast Area Director of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) in 2014-15 and 2008-09, president elect of NASBE (2010), and served as NASBE president in 2011. In recognition of his significant accomplishments and contributions to public education at the local, state and national levels, Mr. Taylor was selected by NASBE as a recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Service Award. His term expires in February 2021.

{Allan B.Taylor Chairperson}

Erin D. Benham Wallingford

Erin D. Benham was reappointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in February 2015. She serves on the Board’s Accountability and Support Committee and the Legislation and Policy Development Committee. She has taught in Meriden Public Schools for 36 years and is president of the Meriden Federation of Teachers and executive committee vice president of AFT Connecticut. She also serves on the board of directors for Project Excel and The Sisters' Project. She earned a bachelor's degree from Saint Joseph College and a master's degree and educational leadership degree from Southern Connecticut State University. Mrs. Benham was the recipient of the President's Award by AFT Connecticut in 2013. Her term expires in February 2019.

{Erin_Benham}

Erik M. Clemons — New Haven

Erik M. Clemons was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2016 and is a member of the Academic Standards and Assessment Committee. Mr. Clemons is the founding chief executive officer and president of the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology Inc. (ConnCAT), an organization that prepares youth and adults for educational and career advancement through after-school arts and job training programming in the areas of health sciences and culinary professions, and links adult learners with local corporate partners. Prior to that, Mr. Clemons served as the executive director of the Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership, Inc. and as the director of career technical training for the New Haven Job Corps Center in New Haven. He is the president of the board of the Housing Authority of New Haven and is a member of the board of Connecticut Voices for Children.  Mr. Clemons received a B.S. degree in sociology from Southern Connecticut State University and a M.A. in theology and ethics from Hartford Seminary. Mr. Clemons’ term expires in February 2020.

 
{Erik M. Clemons}

William P. Davenport — Litchfield 

William P. Davenport was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2016 and is a member of the Accountability and Support Committee. Mr. Davenport is the director of the Ellis Clark Regional Agriscience and Technology Program and has served as an agriscience teacher at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury since 1986. He was selected as Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year in 2004, and has served on the Teacher of the Year Council since 2005. Mr. Davenport received numerous awards as a teacher and advocate for agricultural education, and is a member of the National FFA Organization Board of Directors, the Litchfield County Farm Bureau, and the Connecticut Farm Bureau. Mr. Davenport received a B.S. and M.S. in animal science from the University of Connecticut, and a sixth-year diploma in administration and supervision from Southern Connecticut State University. Mr. Davenport’s term expires in February 2020.

{William P. Davenport}

Donald F. Harris — Bloomfield 

Donald F. Harris, Jr. was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in February 2017. Mr. Harris has been an active member of the Bloomfield community for the past 55 years. A graduate of Bloomfield High School, he became a teacher, coach, athletic director, vice principal and principal in the Bloomfield Public Schools. Mr. Harris serves as the chairperson of the Bloomfield Board of Education, and served as the deputy mayor of the Bloomfield Town Council from 2007-2011. He currently serves on the Connecticut Commission on Equity and Opportunity, the Capital Region Education Council Board of Directors, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Board of Directors, the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board, and the Rotary Club.  Mr. Harris received a B.S. from Springfield College, and an M.S. and sixth-year degree in education administration from the University of Hartford. Mr. Harris’ s term expires in February 2021.

{Donald F. Harris}

Terry H. Jones — Shelton

Terry H. Jones was reappointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in February 2015. He has extensive experience in agriculture, having been a lifelong resident of the seven generation Jones Family Farms in Shelton. He has run his 400-acre farm business for 50 years. He is the vice president of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Board of Control, and a member of the Shelton Economic Development Commission. In addition, Mr. Jones serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the UConn College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. A passionate spokesperson for land conservation, he serves as Chairman of CT Working Land's Alliance, a wide coalition advocating for farmland preservation and healthy food. Mr. Jones is a leader in a coordinated school health initiative sponsored by the National Association of State Boards of Education, and serves on a broad-based committee to advance the development and implementation of policies to improve nutrition and the health of students. Mr. Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science from the University of New Hampshire. He is a member of the Legislation and Policy Development Committee of the State Board of Education. His term expires in February 2019.

{Terry Jones}

Estela López — East Hartford

Estela López was reappointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in February 2015, and was elected as Vice Chairperson of the Board in March 2017. In January 2015, Dr. López was appointed Interim Provost of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, and served in that capacity through June 2016. Prior to that, she served as a senior associate with Excelencia in Education. She is the former vice chancellor of academic affairs of Connecticut State University, serving from 2002 to 2007. From 1997 to 2002, Dr. López served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern Illinois University. Dr. López has received numerous awards, including the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association 2008 Achievement Award and the 2006 Latina Citizen of the Year Award. She chairs the Board’s Accountability and Support Committee and served on the Ad Hoc Committee on Accountability. Dr. López earned a bachelors degree from Queens College, and both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Spanish literature from Columbia University. Her term expires in February 2019.

{Estela Lopez}

Maria I. Mojica — Hamden

Maria Mojica was reappointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in February 2015. She serves on the Board’s Legislation and Policy Development Committee. Presently, Ms. Mojica is Vice President of Fund Development at Continuum of Care, Inc. Ms. Mojica served as Vice President for Programs at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving from 2009-13, where she managed the areas of nonprofit support, education and workforce investments, and strategic planning. She operated a private consultant business serving nonprofit clients from 2006-09.  Prior to that, Ms. Mojica served as the senior program officer for the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, where she managed the foundation’s first child and community initiative. From 1989-94, Ms. Mojica served as the executive director of Bridgeport Futures Initiative, providing direction on improving conditions for children and families. Ms. Mojica is involved in several civic endeavors, including the Greater New Haven Community Foundation and the United Way. Ms. Mojica serves on the national board of the Center for Assessment and Policy Development. She received a B.A. and an M.P.H. from Yale University. Her term expires in February 2019.

{Maria I. Mojica}

Mark E. Ojakian, Ex Officio — West Hartford

Mark E. Ojakian was appointed by the Board of Regents for Higher Education in September 2015 to serve as president of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) System and serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the State Board of Education. As president of CSCU, Mr. Ojakian oversees 12 community colleges, four state universities and Charter Oak State College. Prior to being appointed president of CSCU, he served as chief of staff to Governor Dannel P. Malloy. Mr. Ojakian has also served as deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management and as deputy comptroller in the Office of the Comptroller, where he supervised more than 250 employees and over $1 billion in state accounts. Earlier in his public service career, Mr. Ojakian served as the special advisor to the commissioner of the Department of Higher Education. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from St. Anselm College in New Hampshire and a master’s degree in international relations from the American University in Washington, D.C. 

 

{Mark E. Ojakian}

Malia K. Sieve — Norwich

Malia K. Sieve was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2016 and serves on the Accountability and Support Committee. Ms. Sieve is a director at HCM Strategists in Washington, D.C., where she works with system and institutional leaders from regional universities and community colleges and elected officials on higher education goal setting, monitoring, and policy development in states across the country. Prior to her current job, Ms. Sieve worked as an independent consultant for HCM Strategists and for AEM Corporation, where she provided policy direction on strategic planning and developing data systems to improve outcomes. She also served as associate director for policy and research for the Connecticut Board of Regents of Higher Education, director of the United Way of Connecticut Community Results Center, and project director of the Connecticut Policy and Economic Council. Ms. Sieve received a B.S. degree from the University of Connecticut, School of Family Studies, and a M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut, School of Social Work. She served on the Norwich (CT) District Data Team and on the Huntington School Governance Council (Norwich, CT). Ms. Sieve’s term expires in February 2020.

{Malia K. Sieve}

Robert J. Trefry, Ex Officio — Fairfield

Robert Trefry was appointed by Governor Dannel P.Malloy as Chair of the Connecticut Technical High School System Governing Board in October 2012, and serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the State Board of Education. He served as the chair of the State-appointed Bridgeport Board of Education from 2011 to 2012. Mr. Trefry is the retired president/chief executive officer of Bridgeport Hospital and executive vice president of the Yale New Haven Health System. He is a Columbia University certified executive and organizational coach, and currently is an executive and organizational coach with PathQuest Coaching and Consulting. He currently serves on the boards of the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. Mr. Trefry has an undergraduate degree in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia, and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the School of Business at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He is a life fellow of the American College of Health Care Executives and a member of the International Coaching Federation.

{Robert Trefry}

Joseph J. Vrabely — Glastonbury

Joseph J. Vrabely Jr. was reappointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2015. He is a member of the State Board of Education’s Legislation and Policy Development Committee and the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee. He served as chair of the Connecticut Technical High School Committee and as the vice chairperson of the Connecticut Technical High School System Board. Mr. Vrabely is president and co-owner of Atlantic Steel & Processing LLC, a company he started from the ground up in 2000. For the first 19 years of his career, Mr. Vrabely worked at Ryerson Steel, the largest metals distribution company in the United States. He is engaged in numerous education, civic and manufacturing advocacies. Mr. Vrabely is a board member and serves as the secretary of the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, is a past board member of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, past president of the Smaller Manufacturers’ Association, and past trustee of the Educational Foundation of the Precision Metalforming Association. Mr. Vrabely earned a B.S. in business, management and administration from Indiana University. His term expires in February 2019.

{Joseph J. Vrabely}

Dr. Dianna R. Wentzell — Commissioner

Dr. Dianna R. Wentzell has been an educator in Connecticut for over 25 years. She was appointed as Commissioner of Education by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in April 2015, after serving as Interim Commissioner since January 2015. Dr. Wentzell began her career in education as a social studies teacher and later as a teacher for gifted students. Prior to her appointment as Interim Commissioner, she served as the State Department of Education’s Chief Academic Officer, overseeing the Bureau of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and the Standards Implementation Division. Before joining the Department, Dr. Wentzell served as assistant superintendent of schools in Hartford, and in district leadership positions with a focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessment in both South Windsor and the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) magnet schools. Dr. Wentzell has a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Hartford.  As Commissioner of Education, Dr. Wentzell serves as the secretary to the State Board of Education.

{Dianna Wentzell}

Stephen P. Wright — Trumbull

Stephen P. Wright was reappointed to the Board by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in February 2015. He serves as chairperson of the Academic Standards and Assessment Committee and is a member of the Finance, Audit, and Budget Committee. Mr. Wright is a private practice attorney, after working with Berchem, Moses and Devlin, P.C. and Goldman, Gruder & Woods, LLC. Mr. Wright serves on the Government Affairs Committee of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). He served as chair for the Trumbull Board of Education and as a member for two terms from 2004 to 2012. In 2009 he received the Bridgeport Regional Business Council’s Educational Impact Award. His record of public service includes volunteering as the chair of the Trumbull Special Needs Building Committee and chair of the Trumbull Land Preservation Committee, and serving on the Trumbull Town Council, Executive Committee of the Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership (RYASAP), and as a board member of the Bridgeport Public Education Fund, Inc. Attorney Wright received a certificate of appreciation from the Chief Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut for his pro bono service on behalf of indigent clients in 2012 and is a member of the Volunteer Attorney Program, assisting clients with mortgage foreclosures. He received the Bruce Fraser Friends of Social Studies Award from the Connecticut Association of Social Studies Teachers in 2014. Mr. Wright received an undergraduate degree from Florida State University and a law degree from Western New England College. Mr. Wright’s term expires in February 2019.

{Stephen Wright}
Statutory Charge and Responsibilities

Section 10-4 of the Connecticut General Statutes assigns to the Board responsibility for "... general supervision and control of the educational interests of the state, which interests shall include preschool, elementary and secondary education, special education, vocational education and adult education..." Section 1 of Public Act 97-290 amended the definition of "educational interests of the state" by including the following language: "In order to reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation, each school district shall provide educational opportunities for its students to interact with students and teachers from other racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds..." The Board establishes education policy, prepares legislative proposals, sets academic standards for teachers and students, administers a $2.45 billion annual general fund budget and provides leadership and support services to Connecticut's 149 local and 17 regional school districts. It also serves as the board of education for the 17 regional technical high schools.


If you require further information, please contact:

Office of Board Matters: SDE.StateBoard@ct.gov

Connecticut State Department of Education
450 Columbus Boulevard - Suite 606
Hartford, CT 06103
Telephone: (860) 713-6510





Content Last Modified on 8/31/2017 9:57:41 AM