Governing Board

Our Governing Board plays an active role in shaping the research, technical assistance, and dissemination agenda of REL Appalachia. It is a source of information on regional needs, a conduit to stakeholders throughout the region, and a sounding board and “critical friend.”

The Governing Board includes education leaders from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Members meet to discuss the ways in which REL Appalachia can serve educators in the region.

REL Appalachia is pleased to announce the addition of two new members to its Governing Board

At their meeting on April 6, the Governing Board voted in two new members: Dr. Nathaniel Schwartz, Chief Research and Strategy Officer at the Tennessee Department of Education, and Dr. Frances Swantic, Chair of Graduate Education, Coordinator of the Instructional Leadership Licensure Program, and Professor of Graduate Studies at Lincoln Memorial University School of Education. REL Appalachia is thrilled to welcome these two outstanding education leaders representing Tennessee, and we look forward to engaging them in our work.

REL Appalachia Governing Board

Indicates membership on the Executive Committee

Toggle all biographies
Keith Brewer, Ed.D.
Former Director of Schools, Manchester City Schools, Tennessee

Dr. Brewer has 34 years of public education experience and has served in a leadership position as a principal, superintendent, executive director for field services, and deputy commissioner of education in Tennessee.  Dr. Brewer serves as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt, David Lipscomb, and Tennessee Technological Universities.

Ron Duerring, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Kanawha County Schools, West Virginia

Dr. Duerring has been Superintendent of Kanawha County Schools since 1998. He came to Kanawha County Schools in 1975 as a teacher and has since served as a consultant, principal, and assistant superintendent. He was selected by the Kanawha County PTA Council as Principal of the Year in 1996, and he was selected as Superintendent of the Year in 2000 by the West Virginia Music Educator Association.

Willow Hambrick
Teacher, Literacy Coach, and Language Arts Department Chair, Royal Spring Middle School, Kentucky

Willow Hambrick is a 15-year veteran educator, and she has taught language arts at Royal Spring Middle School for seven years. She serves as a teacher/leader, a literacy coach, Language Arts Department chair, and Innovation Community Leader at Royal Spring Middle School, where she also leads professional-development writing seminars for co-workers and other district teachers. In the fall of 2013, Ms. Hambrick was recognized as a Teacher of the Year finalist after having been named 2009 Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Laura Hansen
Director, Information Management and Decision Support, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS)

Laura serves as the Director for Information Management and Decision Support for Metro Nashville Public Schools. She is responsible for establishing and supporting a strategic vision to improve student achievement through the use of data to inform the school district’s decisionmaking and action. Previously, Laura managed projects for the Mayor’s Office of Children and Youth. She is the Tennessee LEA representative for The Forum at National Center for Education Statistics and a board member for The Data Quality Campaign. She also serves on a number of local boards and community leadership councils.

John William “Billy” Haun, Ed.D.
Chief Academic Officer/Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Virginia Department of Education (representing Steve Staples, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction)

Dr. Haun has served Virginia’s public schools for more than 30 years, beginning his career as a middle school teacher in Pulaski County. After teaching mathematics at several high schools, he served as assistant principal of Western Albemarle High School, principal of Walton Middle School, and principal of Monticello High School. Dr. Haun was promoted to assistant superintendent for student learning for Albemarle County in 2009, and he was appointed to his current position in 2014.

Will J. Jordan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Urban Education, Temple University

Dr. Jordan’s scholarship has focused on conducting empirical research to enhance program and policy development for improving the conditions of education in urban schools. Some of his areas of expertise are in sociology of education, urban education, and high school reform.

Howard Benjamin "Ben" Kiser, Ed.D.
Executive Director, Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS)

Dr. Howard “Ben” Kiser has served Virginia’s public schools for the last 40 years. He began his career as an Industrial Arts teacher in Greensville County High School, and he has held the roles of Director of Vocational Education, Principal, and Associate Superintendent for Administrative Services, to name a few. Prior to assuming his current position as Executive Director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) in 2014, Dr. Kiser spent ten years as Division Superintendent for Gloucester County Public Schools, where he helped increase student academic performance and established a culture of continual improvement through focusing on student performance using data, applying interventions, and instituting collaborative decisionmaking in schools.

Gayle Conelly Manchin
Member, West Virginia State Board of Education

Ms. Manchin was appointed a member of the West Virginia State Board of Education in 2007, and she served as board President from 2013 to 2015. Manchin has worked to further public education at both the state and national levels for many years, including serving as President of the National Association of State Boards of Education, directing AmeriCorps Promise Fellows in West Virginia, and implementing the statewide initiative, WV Partnerships to Assure Student Success (WVPASS) in collaboration with West Virginia’s Secretary of Education and the Arts. In 2010, then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed her to the board of the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE).

Michael Martirano, Ed.D.
State Superintendent of Schools, West Virginia

Dr. Martirano has served in various roles in his 30 years as an educator. He has been a school principal and science teacher, as well as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University. Prior to assuming his role as West Virginia’s State Superintendent of Schools in 2014, he served as Superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools in Maryland for 9 years, where he was named 2009 Superintendent of the Year.

Mary John O’Hair, Ed.D.
Dean, College of Education, University of Kentucky

Dean O’Hair leads the University of Kentucky College of Education and has been a principal organizer of the KY P-20 Innovation Lab.  Previously, she served as Vice Provost for School and Community Partnerships at the University of Oklahoma and held the positions of Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy; Director of Educational Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision; and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies.

Gina Patterson
Executive Director, Virginia School Boards Association

Gina has been with the Virginia School Boards Association for 17 years. She has held several positions with the association, including Director of Membership Services, Assistant Executive Director, and Deputy Executive Director. Gina was promoted to Executive Director for the association in March 2013.

Donna Hoylman Peduto
Director of Operations, West Virginia State Board of Education

As Director of Operations for the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE), Ms. Peduto is a key liaison to the WVBE members, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) executive leadership, Governor’s Office, chairs of the legislative education committees, and other leaders and organizations around the state. Previously, Ms. Peduto served as Director of the Learning Lab Network Sites for the Stupski Foundation; a San Francisco-based educational foundation, committed to establishing a national network of high schools to incubate effective and innovative practice within the K-12 environment. Additionally, she has served in the Offices of Professional Preparation and Organizational Effectiveness at the WVDE as Assistant Director, and was Director of K-12 Initiatives at the EdVenture Group, where she supported the development and execution of projects related to K-12 technology training, curriculum, and research and consulting.

Jennifer Piver-Renna, Ph.D.
Senior Executive Director for Research, Virginia Department of Education

Dr. Piver-Renna conducts research and provides recommendations for the implementation of major statewide policy, programmatic, fiscal, and other initiatives. She also builds relationships with research partners and translates critical research findings into actionable information for stakeholders throughout the state. Piver-Renna possesses an extensive background in multi-disciplinary research and project management in both the academic and public sectors. She received her Ph.D. in Health, Behavior & Society from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Robert Rodosky, Ph.D.
Former Chief of Data Management, Planning, and Program Evaluation, Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky

Prior to this role, Dr. Rodosky has been an evaluator for Columbus Ohio Public Schools and Assistant Director of the Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University.  He has held adjunct professor appointments at both Western Michigan University and the University of Louisville.

Lynne Schrum, Ph.D.
Former Dean, College of Education and Human Services, West Virginia University

Dr. Schrum is the former Dean of the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University. Previously she served as program coordinator for elementary education at George Mason University. Her research and teaching focus on appropriate uses of technology, preparing school leaders and teachers for the 21st century, and effective and successful online teaching and learning. Dr. Schrum has written and edited ten books and numerous articles, and she recently completed ten years as editor of the Journal of Research on Technology in Education. She is also a past-president of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Dr. Schrum has worked with teachers and leaders in many states and countries as they strive toward establishing 21st century schools, develop STEM initiatives, and design effective learning environments, including a recent investigation into exemplary school leaders throughout the US. 

Nathaniel (Nate) L. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Tennessee Department of Education

Dr. Nate Schwartz began his career as a high school teacher after receiving his Bachelor’s in Social Studies from Harvard University, and he went on to earn his M.P.P. and Ph.D. at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. In his role at the Tennessee Department of Education, Dr. Schwartz directs the teams responsible for research and data analysis, partnerships with external researchers, and strategic planning. Dr. Schwartz is currently serving as Co-Principal Investigator on three IES-funded studies on education in Tennessee.

Rhonda L. Sims
Associate Commissioner, Office of Assessment and Accountability, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)

Rhonda Sims has served in the KDE for 20 years, working with multiple aspects of the state assessment and accountability program. Prior to her appointment as Associate Commissioner in May 2015, Sims served as Director of Support and Research and played a key role in developing, implementing, and communicating the state’s accountability system. Sims began her career in education as a social studies teacher in a Kentucky high school.

Frances (Fran) Swantic, Ph.D.
Chair of Graduate Education/Coordinator of the Instructional Leadership Licensure Program, Professor of Graduate Studies, Lincoln Memorial University School of Education

Dr. Fran Swantic serves as Department Chair, Coordinator of the Instructional Leadership Licensure Program, and Professor of Graduate Studies at the Lincoln Memorial University School of Education in Tennessee. Prior to joining the University in 1999, Dr. Swantic served in a variety of roles in Georgia’s public schools, including Middle School Coordinator, Principal, Assistant Principal, and Teacher. Dr. Swantic’s research and teaching areas include leadership, school assessment, school law, finance, and research. She has acted as a consultant for school improvement initiatives in Georgia and as Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Quality Assurance Review Team Member. Dr. Swantic received her Ph.D. and Masters of Administration and Supervision from Georgia State University.

V. Wayne Young, J.D.
Executive Director/General Counsel, Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA)

Mr. Young conducts frequent workshops for teachers, attorneys, and school administrators on legal issues in education such as general liability, student confidentiality, sexual harassment, and school personnel law.  He is a nationally certified trainer on the topic of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Mr. Young is also the author of the school law training module that has been used to train all new school superintendents in Kentucky for the past 20 years.  A graduate of the University of Kentucky and its College of Law, he was a prosecuting attorney and was engaged in private law practice for five years before joining KASA.