NSBA Executive Director Elected Chair of Learning First Alliance's Board of Directors

July 5, 2016

Alexandria, Va. (July 5, 2016) – National School Boards Association (NSBA) executive director Thomas J. Gentzel was recently named chair of the Learning First Alliance’s (LFA) Board of Directors. A coalition of 14 leading education organizations, LFA represents over 10 million parents, educators, and policymakers dedicated to improving student learning in America’s public schools.

A longtime champion for the advancement of equity and excellence in public education, Gentzel has served as executive director of NSBA since 2012, becoming the sixth executive director since it was founded in 1940. NSBA, the leading advocate for public education, proudly represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the United States. Our nation’s school boards play a pivotal role in advancing student achievement—envisioning the future of education in local communities; establishing a structure and environment that allows all students to reach their maximum potential; providing accountability to the community on student outcomes; and serving as the key advocate for school-age children in public schools.

“Advocates of public schools are needed now more than ever to ensure that all our students are learning the skills they need to pursue college and careers and thrive in a 21st century environment,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association. “Learning First Alliance is an influential voice in the important conversation about student learning and achievement, and I’m honored to serve as chair of the Board of Directors and look forward to helping further LFA’s mission over the coming year.”

Driven by the vision of a bright and successful future for each of our nation’s 50 million public school children, Gentzel has worked to advance education advocacy for over three decades. Prior to NSBA, Gentzel represented and served more than 5,000 school directors, administrators, and other officials from school entities throughout Pennsylvania as executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA). A former head of PSBA’s Office of Governmental and Member Relations for 16 years, he was also the Immediate Past Chair of NSBA’s Organization of State Association Executive Directors.

Before joining PSBA, Gentzel 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 The 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. Gentzel holds a B.S. degree in Community Development and a Master of Public Administration from The Pennsylvania State University.

“Tom Gentzel’s deep knowledge of education and the policymaking process is a valued asset as the Learning First Alliance is turning its attention to the Every Student Succeeds Act and other federal actions,” said LFA Executive Director Richard M. Long. “I look forward to working with Tom and LFA’s new leadership team in the coming year.”

JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, was named LFA’s 2016-17 Secretary-Treasurer. Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward, is now the immediate past president.

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The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school board associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Learn more at

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