Governor Kelly Elected to Chair Education Commission of the States

TOPEKA – Today, Governor Laura Kelly was elected to serve as Chair of Education Commission of the States (ECS) for the 2023-25 term. This election, by a bipartisan group of commissioners from every state, happened during ECS’s annual National Forum on Education Policy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Serving in this role, Governor Kelly continues her commitment to be the “Education Governor” by elevating Kansas to this national leadership role.

“I am looking forward to working with ECS to continue its legacy as a key partner for education leaders across the country,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “The organization has been absolutely invaluable to me and my team, and I want to be a champion for it by leading it through its next chapter.”

Education Commission of the States is the premier education policy organization working to support state leaders nationwide. ECS provides policy and technical assistance to elected officials and policy leaders from all education sectors. ECS comprises over 300 appointed commissioners from every state and territory representing governor’s offices, state legislatures, state boards of education, chief state school officers, higher education authorities, and local education officials. ECS brings together these leaders to encourage collaboration across states and advance educational best practices.

“We are so pleased to have Gov. Kelly’s leadership and involvement with ECS,” said Matt Padilla, interim president of Education Commission of the States. “Gov. Kelly embodies the bipartisanship that is so instrumental to our mission. We look forward to working alongside her to advance innovation and best practices in state education policy.”

As Chair, Governor Kelly will develop and lead a Chair’s Initiative to highlight innovative practices underway in the Kansas education system that can serve as a model for how other states can build upon Kansas’ leadership. Governor Kelly’s Chair’s Initiative will focus on expanding educational opportunities for justice-impacted individuals. On July 1, 2023, Pell Grant eligibility was restored for incarcerated populations across the country, opening an avenue for around 760,000 incarcerated individuals to participate in college coursework nationwide.

In Kansas, correctional populations have had access to Pell-eligible coursework since 2020 through the Second Chance Pell Experimental Site Initiative, which piloted the provision of college coursework in correctional settings. Now that Pell eligibility has been restored for justice-impacted individuals across the country, Kansas is a model for creating partnerships that expand programming into correctional facilities and prepare incarcerated individuals to reenter society with significant work and educational experience.

While in Minneapolis, Governor Kelly participated in a panel discussion with former Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on the state of education in America and how states can come together to solve pressing challenges. Governor Hutchinson, the outgoing Chair of ECS, also presided over the official gavel exchange—marking the transition to Governor Kelly’s term.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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