NSBA board selects new executive director from Pennsylvania association, establishes new lobbying and advocacy center in D.C.

Submission

The National School Boards Association Board of Directors has unanimously selected Thomas J. Gentzel to be the next NSBA executive director. Gentzel is the executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

“I am honored to lead NSBA at such an important time for the organization and for public education,” said Gentzel. “I am deeply committed to community ownership of public schools, which is the essence of school board governance. We will build on a strong foundation, taking an active role in shaping education policy and ensuring a quality education for all children in America.”

In his current role at PSBA, Gentzel represents and serves more than 5,000 school directors, administrators, and other officials from school entities throughout Pennsylvania. He joined the PSBA staff in 1980 as a lobbyist and, five years later, was promoted to head the organization’s Office of Governmental and Member Relations–a position he held until being promoted to executive director in 2001. He is also the immediate past chair of NSBA’s Organization of State Association Executive Directors. Before joining PSBA, he served as the county administrator for Pennsylvania’s Centre County Board of Commissioners and, later, as assistant executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

In addition, Gentzel has served as vice president at large for the National School Public Relations Association and as a member of the Outreach Advisory Board for Pennsylvania State University. He was appointed by Gov. Tom Ridge and reappointed twice by Gov. Edward Rendell to the State Advisory Panel on Special Education. In 2009 he was named by Rendell to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Council. He previously chaired the Pennsylvania Coalition for Public Education and was founder and coordinator of the Alliance for a School Aid Partnership.

NSBA President C. Ed Massey noted that NSBA’s search committee had undertaken a comprehensive selection process to choose Gentzel, who received the committee’s unanimous recommendation before the board’s vote.

NSBA’s executive director reports directly to  the organization’s board of directors and is responsible for guiding the development and implementation of the strategic plan, programs, policies and practices of the association. The executive director is responsible for the management and development of nearly 100 employees and an annual budget of more than $20 million.

Gentzel will begin his new role on Dec. 1.

Meanwhile, NSBA has launched the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC), a 501(c)(4) organization that will enable NSBA to expand its advocacy efforts and to increase its lobbying to include public advocacy activities not previously available. NSBAC is also designed to serve local school board members as an important resource for grassroots advocacy and for information on the political process and candidates.

Although NSBAC will not endorse specific candidates, it will analyze information and identify differences among the political candidate positions so that local school board members will be able to determine what candidates best serve the interests of our public school students.

As part of its mission to raise awareness of school boards’ top issues to candidates for federal offices, NSBAC has released an analysis of President Obama’s and Gov. Mitt Romney’s K-12 proposals. For more information, go to www.nsbac.org.

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