Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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A Division of the Arkansas Department of Education

State Board Members

Diane Zook

Diane Zook, chair of the State Board, brings to the board her years of experience as a child advocate, educator, volunteer, business owner and pioneer in public school special education. She was born in Batesville and graduated from Melbourne High School. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Arkansas and completed postgraduate study at UAMS and UCLA. After the Education of the Handicapped Law was passed, she started and expanded programs within her school district for every child, regardless of handicap, and helped train special education supervisors throughout the state. She also helped train school administrators and teachers in the Program for Effective Teaching.

Zook’s “children first” philosophy has guided her professionally and as a volunteer, whether as a companion to a child at the Arkansas Children’s Colony, a liaison between parents and schools in Atlanta, working as assistant to the chaplain in a hospital setting or serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children in the 16th District Courts. She is currently serving on the administrative Board of Manna House in Izard County and is vice chair of the Ozarka College Foundation Board. Her professional experiences include teaching, school administration, owner/operator of a small business and family farming interests.

“This is a time of wide ranging change in education. I will use my experiences to inform my opinions as we help our schools become more effective and efficient in teaching every student the skills needed to be successful in school and beyond.  We want students well prepared for the challenges they will face.” 

She was appointed to the State Board by Gov. Mike Beebe in 2013. Her term expires in 2020.

Zook and her husband, Randy, make their home in Melbourne.

Email: ddzook@aol.com

Susan Chambers

Susan Chambers graduated from Wathena High School in Wathena, Kansas and received a Bachelor of Science in Systems and Data Processing from William Jewell College in Liberty, MO. She recently retired as the executive vice president of global people, chief human resources officer, for Walmart in Bentonville, where she has worked since 1999. Prior to joining Walmart, Chambers worked for Hallmark Cards Inc. and Amoco.
 
Chambers has received multiple honors, having been named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, Forbes’ The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Business, and Fortune’s Top 10 Chief Human Resources Officers. She also has received William Jewell Achievement Honors. 
 
She has served on numerous boards, including the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Walmart de Mexico SAB DE CV, Arvest Bank and William Jewell College, where she serves as vice chairman. 
 
Chambers was appointed to the State Board by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in July 2015. Her term expires June 30, 2021. 
 
She lives in Bella Vista with her husband, Charles.

Email: susancham78@gmail.com

Charisse Dean

Charisse Dean, a former homeschool mom and current parent of four children in public school, believes it is vital for parents to be an integral part of a child’s education. She strives to emphasize the importance of parental involvement in the education of children and to strengthen the relationship between educators and parents. “Both should work together toward the goal of education which is not just the academic, but is also the development of intelligence and virtue, which according to the Arkansas Constitution, are the safeguards of liberty, the bulwark of a free and good government, and the very reason for the establishment and maintenance of a free school system. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

Dean graduated from Oak Grove High School in North Little Rock and attended Agape College, where she received a diploma of biblical studies. She currently serves as the governmental affairs assistant and project coordinator for Family Council in Little Rock. She also serves on the Governor’s Council on Common Core Review. Dean previously was employed as a field director for the Family Council Action Committee and worked for Agape College and Agape Church.

She was appointed to the State Board by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in July 2015. Her term expires June 30, 2022.

Dean lives in Little Rock with her four children.

Email: charissedean18@gmail.com

R. Brett Williamson

R. Brett Williamson brings to the State Board a business career in finance and economic development. He believes the future economic success of Arkansas lies in part on the education of our children.

Williamson graduated from El Dorado High School in El Dorado and received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. He also is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He currently serves as the general manager for Murphy Offices LLC and The Murphy Foundation, both in El Dorado. Prior to joining Murphy Offices, he worked for Simmons First Mortgage Company in Little Rock, First National Bank of El Dorado and First Financial Bank in El Dorado.

He currently serves on the board of The Murphy Foundation, El Dorado Fifty for the Future and is a founding board member of El Dorado Festivals & Events Inc. He has also served on both the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Union County boards.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Williamson to the State Board in July 2015. His term expires June 30, 2022. 

He lives in El Dorado with his wife, Stephanie, and has three children.

Email: brett.williamson@murphyoffices.com

Dr. O. Fitzgerald Hill

Dr. O. Fitzgerald Hill has extensive experience in higher education. While serving as the 13th president of Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, the college experienced a dramatic increase in enrollment, from 150 students to more than 1,100. In addition, the college’s budget increased from $2 million to nearly $20 million.

After 10 years at the college, Hill recently stepped down as president to become the executive director of the college’s foundation and the Scott Ford Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development. He also provides leadership for the Derek Olivier Research Institute for the Prevention of Black on Black Violence, a research think tank that identifies solutions and provides recommendations to address homicides in urban communities.

The former San Jose State Spartans head football coach and Arkansas Razorbacks assistant head football coach also serves as a guest lecturer and research associate at the University of Central Florida’s Institute of Diversity and Ethics.  

Hill received degrees in communications and physical education from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia and a master’s degree in student personnel services from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., where he served as a graduate assistant football coach. Hill later served on the Razorbacks football coaching staff for 12 years.  

A veteran, Hill received the Bronze Star and Commendation Medal for services in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Hill to the State Board effective July 1, 2016. His term expires in 2023. 

Hill is married to Dr. Cynthia Hill. They have two daughters, Destiny and Faith, and one son, Justice.

Email: fitz.hill@arkansas.gov

Ouida Newton

Ouida Newton brings 38 years of experience as an educator to the State Board of Education. She was named the 2015 Arkansas Teacher of Year and recently retired to serve on the State Board. 

Newton believes that learning is embraced when children receive encouragement and support from parents, teachers and the community. She previously taught multiple levels of math and science in the Poyen School District and has served as a library media specialist, math coach, curriculum supervisor, class sponsor, senior and Arkansas State Beta Club sponsor, and Teachers of Tomorrow supervisor. Newton also taught at the Searcy School District and Pulaski County Special School District and was an adjunct professor at College of the Ouachitas in Malvern. 

She served on multiple assessment and standard review committees, including the Arkansas Math Standards Review Committee, and spoke before the Governor’s Council on Common Core Review.

Newton graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Henderson State University at Arkadelphia, with a double major in math and science. She received a Master of Library and Informational Science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. 

In 2014, Newton was named the Arkansas Rural Education Teacher of the Year and Arkansas Middle Level Math Teacher of the Year. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Newton to the State Board effective July 1, 2016. Her term expires June 30, 2023.

Newton and her husband, Jerry, live in Leola and have two children and eight grandchildren. 

Email: ouida.newton@arkansas.gov

Dr. Sarah Moore

Dr. Sarah Moore has a background in elementary education and education policy. A native of Little Rock, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University and a doctorate in education policy from the University of Arkansas. Moore taught elementary school in the Stuttgart School District and then worked at the Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas, as a Doctoral Academy Fellow. In addition, she has worked with non-traditional teaching programs to train and develop teachers.
 
Moore served as the education policy advisor to Gov. Asa Hutchinson for three years, focusing on K-12 education issues, including the Computer Science Initiative. In this role, she saw firsthand that Arkansas' students will be better prepared for their future and will exceed when provided high-quality opportunities, such as computer science. 
 
Gov. Hutchinson appointed Moore to the State Board in July 2018. Her term expires June 30, 2025.
 
Moore lives in Stuttgart with her husband, James, and their two children.

Email: sarah.b.moore@arkansas.gov

Kathy McFetridge

Kathy McFetridge brings 27 years of school board experience serving Arkansas children and families to the State Board of Education. She was first elected to the Springdale School Board in 1991 and has held the positions of secretary/treasurer, vice president and president. During her tenure, McFetridge helped manage the tremendous growth in the Springdale School District with 11 new schools opening to accommodate a rapidly growing student enrollment. 

McFetridge was elected to serve on the Arkansas School Boards Association in 1999. She received the Honor Board Member Award in 1995 and the Pinnacle Award in 2001. She also received the prestigious Daniel Pilkinton Award in 2001 from the Arkansas School Boards Association in recognition for her outstanding service to public education. In 1998, the National School Boards Association presented McFetridge with its award for distinguished service. McFetridge has also served her community through various organizations.

She has served on several statewide committees:

  • Arkansas Blue Ribbon Commission on Education, 2002
  • Child Health Advisory Committee, 2003 – 2010 (chair 2007-2009)
  • Technology Task Force on Education, 2004
  • Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, 2002 – 2007

Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed McFetridge to the State Board of Education in July 2018. Her term expires June 30, 2025.

The McFetridge family has owned and operated Ozark Film & Video Productions in Springdale since 1983, and attend First United Methodist Church in Springdale. McFetridge has two adult children and four grandchildren.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed McFetridge to the State Board of Education in July 2018. Her term expires June 30, 2025.

Email: kathy.mcfetridge@arkansas.gov

Chad W. Pekron

Chad W. Pekron is a parent of five children. He believes that providing a range of diverse educational opportunities is essential to ensuring our children’s future by meeting as many individual educational needs as possible.
 
Pekron graduated in a class of 28 students from De Smet High School in De Smet, South Dakota. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with high honors. He then attended Yale Law School, where he received his juris doctor degree. He is a partner at the Little Rock law firm of Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull, where he practices in the areas of general commercial litigation and appellate law. Pekron has appeared in state and federal courts across the United States. Before joining the Quattlebaum firm, Pekron was an associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin LLP. He was also a law clerk to the Honorable Morris Sheppard Arnold on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
 
Pekron has previously served as a member of Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners and the U.S. Election Assistance Commissioner Standards Board. Pekron has also twice been appointed to serve as a Special Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.
 
Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Pekron to the State Board in July 2019. His term expires in July 2026.
 
Pekron lives in Bryant with his wife, Cambre, and his family.

Email: chad.pekron@arkansas.gov

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