MARCH 25, 2015

Ducey names Appointees to Veterans' Services and Board of Education

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PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey recently announced the appointment of retired Colonel Wanda Wright as director of the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services (AZDVS).

Col. Wright has been vice principal of Montessori Academy since 2011. She previously served as director of staff for the Arizona Air National Guard (2005-2011), directing Joint Forces Headquarters, air component military personnel, administrative, support and recruiting staff. She was responsible for overseeing programs supporting more than 2,500 personnel, conducting relief efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, managing more than 4,000 air personnel assisting in the Operation Jump Start border mission and more.

"With three decades of outstanding military service - including five years in the active duty Air Force and 25 years with the National Guard - Col. Wright has the leadership experience, management skills and keen understanding of military and veterans issues necessary to direct this department's crucial mission," said Governor Ducey. "She recognizes the important value of veterans to our state and communities, and will be a steadfast advocate for them, their families and all of Arizona's men and women in uniform. Col. Wright will be a tremendous asset to our administration and a strong voice for Arizona veterans."

Col. Wright previously served with the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, including as executive officer, communications flight commander and international training budget officer. Additional experience includes working in the MBA rotational program at Hughes Missile System Group and as budget office chief at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

In 2011, Col. Wright was awarded the prestigious Legion of Merit medal for her exceptional military service, which includes nearly 30 years in the United States Air Force.

She holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Arizona; Masters of Business Administration from Webster University; Bachelor of Science in Management from the United States Air Force Academy; and is in the process of obtaining a Master of Education from Arizona State University.

"I am honored that Governor Ducey has granted me this opportunity to work with and for the veterans of the state of Arizona," said Col. Wright. "I will do my best to serve those who have served our country." 

Col. Wright's appointment makes her the first female director of the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services. 

Reiterating his commitment to expanding educational excellence and improving schools for all Arizona students and parents, Governor Doug Ducey also announced five appointments to the Arizona State Board of Education. 

In addition to three public member seats currently available for appointment, the governor must fill the vacant seats of a county school superintendent and a university president to the 11-member board. The governor's appointments reflect his focus on putting classrooms first, expanding educational opportunities and ensuring that Arizona's standards are our own.

"I look forward to working with the Board of Education to improve results in the classroom and to ensure all Arizona students have access to a great education," said Governor Ducey. "Our work starts with making sure that the standards in our classrooms are Arizona high-standards and not a one-size fits all model. Arizona can and should be the number one state in the nation for our children to get an education."

Jared Taylor has served as a councilmember for the town of Gilbert since 2012. Prior to his election, Mr. Taylor served on various citizen budget committees, as a precinct committeeman and vice chairman in his legislative district, on the board for Constitution Week USA and is an active advocate for Arizonans Against Common Core. He also has 10 years of private sector experience in various corporate human resources roles.

Chuck Schmidt is the Associate Executive Director for the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA). He started with AIA in 2000 as a coordinator and was promoted to Assistant Executive Director in 2002. He also taught high school social studies for several years at Valley Lutheran High School and was an assistant baseball coach at Valparaiso University.

Chris Deschene is a former state representative from Navajo Nation. Mr. Deschene is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Marine Corps. While in the Marines, he served as an infantry and reconnaissance officer with two tours in the Persian Gulf. He went on to graduate school at Arizona State University to earn a master's degree in engineering and a juris doctorate in law.

Tim Carter is the current Yavapai County School Superintendent, a position to which he was unanimously appointed in 2005. He previously worked at Prescott High School as the assistant principal for student learning, and later as principal until his retirement in 2003. Mr. Carter also has experience coaching, teaching and counseling.

Michael Crow is the 16th president of Arizona State University, a role he has served since 2002. He previously was executive vice provost of Columbia University, where he also served as a professor of science and technology policy. He is also the author of the recently released book, "Designing the New American University."

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