On September 11, the EAST Board of Directors held their Annual meeting. This meeting marks the end of one Board year and the beginning of a new one. What makes it especially special to me is that this Annual Board meeting marks the 10th Annual meeting and with it the close of a decade of the EAST Initiative.
I remember the very first Board meeting for EAST, it was Friday, December 7, 2001. On that day EAST “grew up.” Before the incorporation of EAST, Inc. (the nonprofit that oversees the EAST programs and provides training and support to our schools…and the organization that employs me), EAST was a great idea and transformational program overseen and supported by a small group of people that had worked for various single school districts and state educational cooperatives. In those days EAST was still in the “piloting stage;” all that changed when the nonprofit was formed and EAST became a “real life” thing. It was a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that employed staff to train, support, and develop services for the existing EAST programs and was empowered to grow EAST schools and ideas. All of that happened in the blink of an eye with the call to order by a Board Chairman. Suddenly we were off and running.
Over the years the EAST Board has been made up of state agency heads, business leaders, school officials, EAST alumni, nationally recognized educational leaders, and others. Despite their difference in backgrounds they all shared a commitment to supporting and expanding the work of EAST. They have each and all given their time, their advocacy, and their oversight to EAST as we have grown. They also share a common vision for the future of education in general and EAST in particular. They agree we need more of it and that schools should have EAST components in every grade and every class.
I am appreciative of our Board members past and present for volunteering to serve and lend their voice and support to EAST’s work. They truly are some of the best people you could ever hope to know, and with them in our corner, we can only get better. At the beginning of the 2012/2013 Board year, the EAST Board of Directors include:
Mr. Prakash Jalihal – Chairperson; Senior Vice President, FIS
Dr. David Rainey – Vice-Chairperson; Superintendent, Dumas Public Schools
Ms. Melanie VanZandt Bradford - Secretary; Division Leader, Research and Technology; Arkansas Department of Education
Mr. Dominik Mjartan – Immediate Past Chair; Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Communications; Southern Bancorp Inc.
Mr. Jerry Damerow – Chair, Finance and Audit Committee; Retired
Dr. John Ahlen; President, Arkansas Science & Technology Authority
Dr. Michael Gealt; Dean, College of Science and Math, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Mr. David Moody; President, LGW, Inc.
Dr. John O’Connell; Consultant, E2T2 LTD
Ms. Julia Sites; IT Specialist, Southwest Power Pool
Mr. Tommy Tyler; Superintendent, Crossett School District
Each of them brings a unique voice and set of experiences to bear, but together they are the group that has promised to uplift and champion EAST as it continues to grow and develop. If you happen to know any of our directors (or happen to run into them in your travels) thank them for their service. I know I thank them every day.