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State Board of Education Members

The State Board of Education consists of thirteen members, at least two of whom have experience in manufacturing or a trade offered at the Technical High School System, one with a background in vocational agriculture and two nonvoting Grade 12 student members. The Governor appoints, with the advice and consent of the General Assembly, the members to the Board. The eleven voting members are appointed to four-year terms, and the student members are appointed to one-year terms. The Commissioner of the Department of Higher Education serves as an ex officio, nonvoting member. The State Board of Education recommends to the Governor the appointment of the Commissioner of Education, who serves as the secretary to the Board for a term coterminous with that of the Governor.

Allan B. Taylor, Chairperson — Hartford

Allan B. Taylor was reappointed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy to the Board in 2013 and has served as the chairperson of the Board since 2005. After 37 years in the private practice of law, Mr. Taylor “retired” to become the legislative and legal advisor to the Hartford City Council. 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, NASBE selected Mr. Taylor as a recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Service Award. His term expires in February 2017.

{Allan B.Taylor Chairperson}

Theresa Hopkins-Staten, Vice Chairperson — West Hartford

Theresa Hopkins-Staten was reappointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in April 2013 and serves as the vice chairperson of the Board. She is the director of Connecticut Regulatory Affairs for Eversource, working with Connecticut regulators on policies, practices and procedures that affect Eversource’s Connecticut electric and gas companies. For 11 years, she served as senior counsel and assistant corporate secretary for Northeast Utilities. She also serves on the boards of numerous business, education and community organizations and has received numerous recognitions for her leadership in the community. She is chair of the Urban League of Greater Hartford Board of Directors, the immediate past chair of United Way of Connecticut Board of Directors, a member of the St. Francis Foundation Board of Directors, and is active in University of Connecticut Alumni Affairs. Mrs. Hopkins-Staten earned a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Connecticut, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Goodwin College. Mrs. Hopkins-Staten chaired the National Association of State Boards of Education Study Group on Teacher Preparation, Evaluation, Continuation and Compensation. A member of the Board since 2005, she chairs the Legislation and Policy Development Committee and is a member of the Academic Standards and Assessment Committee of the State Board of Education. Her term expires in February 2017.

{theresa hopkins_staten}

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 35 years and currently is a literacy teacher at Lincoln Middle School. She is also 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.


Michael Caminear, Student Member — Branford

Michael Caminear was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in July 2014 as a nonvoting student member. He is a senior at Branford High School in Branford where he also serves as a student representative on the Branford Board of Education. Michael is president of his class, has been a four-year varsity athlete on both the soccer and lacrosse teams, and is an active member in his school community. He is president of the Branford High School Model Congress Debate Club, a member of the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, and the World Language National Honor Society. Michael is the recipient of the Trinity College Book Award, the Gettysburg College Book Award, and the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Award in Humanities and Social Sciences. He plays the saxophone and is active in both the concert and marching bands. He volunteers his time by coaching youth lacrosse and youth soccer, by being a peer mentor at Branford High School, and by helping out at events at St. Therese Church. His term expires in June 2015.

{Megan Foell}

Megan Foell, Student Member — Thomaston

Megan Foell was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in July 2014 as a nonvoting student member. Megan is a senior at Thomaston High School in Thomaston. She is an active member of her community in Thomaston and donates her free time to her local rotary chapter, St. Peter's Trinity Church, and to coaching and refereeing youth soccer. When she is not volunteering, Megan can be found working at Señor Pancho’s restaurant or on stage in local community theater productions at the Thomaston Opera House. Besides her involvement in the community, Megan is the treasurer of her senior class and holds an officer position in her local National Honor Society chapter. Megan's involvement in school spans from the soccer field to the stage, from Mock Trial to Academic Bowl. Megan has been a recipient of high honors throughout her high school career and has been recognized for her success in both French and Spanish. Her term expires in June 2015.

{Megan Foell}

Gregory W. Gray, Ex Officio — Hartford

Gregory W. Gray, Ed.D., was appointed president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, effective July 1, 2013. The Board of Regents for Higher Education governs the 17 Connecticut state colleges and universities. Before his recent appointment, Dr. Gray served as the chancellor of the Riverside Community College District (RCCD), where he established the Chancellor’s Circle on Innovation, consisting of highly respected leaders within the region and industry, which provided insight and leadership for the support and advancement of the district and its mission. Dr. Gray also established the first study abroad program to China by a community college nationwide, which was launched March 2011. To promote and advance leadership across the district, Dr. Gray created the first leadership academy for district and college employees, faculty, and students. Dr. Gray is an experienced fundraiser, and during his tenure at RCCD he secured the largest single private gift in the history of the college district. In 2010, Dr. Gray led a comprehensive reorganization to reflect a multicollege district with three accredited colleges. Before that, Dr. Gray served as the president of Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus, and has nearly four decades of experience in two-year and four-year colleges, as both a professor and an administrator. He holds a bachelor in science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a doctorate in education from Penn State University.

{Gregory W. Gray}

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. In January 2015, Dr. López was appointed interim provost of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, and will serve in that capacity through June 2016. Before 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 bachelor’s 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. Her priority is to establish a fund development department. 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. Before 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}

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, nonvoting 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. Mr. Trefry has been and continues to be very active in the community having served as the chairman of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, the Seaview Avenue Business Alliance, and United Home Care, and on the boards of numerous private, community, and hospital organizations. He is currently 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 Legislation and Policy Development Committee of the State Board of Education. 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.  Mr. Vrabely hosts a monthly talk show, “Manufacturing Matters,” that he started 11 years ago, and is engaged in numerous education, civic and manufacturing advocacies. Mr. Vrabely is a board member and serves on the executive committee 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. He 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. Before 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. He is an attorney with Berchem, Moses and Devlin, P.C., with offices in Milford, Westport, and Norwalk. Prior to that he was a principal in the law firm of Goldman, Gruder & Woods, LLC. Mr. Wright currently serves on the Government Affairs Committee of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Mr. Wright 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, Connecticut Association of Social Studies Teachers, 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.

State Board of Education Priorities

The Board’s priorities are described in its five-year plan, A Superior Education for Connecticut’s 21st Century Learners –2006-2011. The plan states the Board’s rationale for selecting these three priorities, and actions the State will take to achieve expected outcomes in each area.

  1. High-quality preschool education for all students;
  2. High academic achievement of all students in reading and writing, mathematics and science; and
  3. High school reform.

If you require further information, please contact:

Office of Board Matters:

Connecticut State Department of Education
165 Capitol Avenue - Room 301
Hartford, CT 06106
Telephone: (860) 713-6510

Content Last Modified on 5/27/2015 11:32:12 AM