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Council Members

The Council is composed of 13 citizen members, a faculty member, and a student member, all appointed by the Governor. The Commissioner of Education serves as a nonvoting ex-officio member.

Sherrill B. Zimmerman, Chair

Sherrill Zimmerman is a retired educator from Louisville where she was a teacher, assistant principal and a magnet program coordinator for Jefferson County Public Schools. She has made numerous presentations at state and national conferences on many aspects of middle school education.  Zimmerman has served on several boards including the Children's Hospital Foundation Board in Louisville. In addition, she holds a bachelor's degree in biology, a master's degree in education and administrative certification, all from the University of Louisville. She is also a member of the UofL Athletic Hall of Fame. 

Appointment Dates:  July 25, 2012 (EO 2012-646); Jan 10, 2014 (EO 2014-023)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2019

Committee Membership/Leadership Positions:
  --Chairperson (Feb 2017-Jan 2020)
  --Executive Committee (chair)
  --Finance Committee
  --Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee

Ben Brandstetter, Vice Chair

Benjamin (Ben) Brandstetter of Hebron is the president of Brandstetter Carroll Inc., a national architectural and engineering firm with locations in Lexington, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dallas. Brandstetter grew up in Lexington and attended the Georgia Institute of Technology where he received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He worked as a civil engineer in Raleigh, North Carolina for a national engineering firm before becoming licensed as a professional engineer and returning to Kentucky to work at Brandstetter Carroll, Inc. He served six years as a member of the Boone County Planning Commission.

Appointment Date:  July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2020

Committee Membership/Leadership Positions:
  --Vice Chairperson (Feb 2017-Jan 2020)
  --Executive Committee
  --Finance Committee (chair)
  --Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee

Ron C. Beal

Ronald (Ron) Beal of Bowling Green is president of Luvata’s Tubes Division with their main U.S. operations center in Franklin. Luvata is a global leader in the manufacture of copper tubes for the air conditioning and refrigeration industry. Beal’s more than 28 years in the industry has given him hands-on experience in sales, marketing, engineering and manufacturing in countries around the world including China, Thailand and Mexico. Beal is a graduate of the College of Wooster with a bachelor’s degree in geology and holds a master’s degree in business from Ashland University.

Appointment Dates:  July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499); Apr 17, 2018 (2018-255)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2023

Committee Membership:  Executive Committee

Kim Halbauer

Kimberly Halbauer

Kimberly Halbauer is a senior vice president and investment advisors executive for Fifth Third Bank, including Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky. She leads a team of 150 highly specialized investment professionals in the delivery of planning, investment management, banking and advisory services. She is currently the chairman of the board for the American Heart Association, an active member of United Way and co-chair of the Tocqueville society's FIRST TUESDAY lunches, and serves on a number of other boards and organizations. Halbauer received her bachelor's degree and graduated magna cum laude from Thomas More College, and is a graduate of Leadership Northern Kentucky, Leadership Cincinnati and the first class of Leadership Action. 

Appointment Date: July 27, 2017 (EO 2017-502)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2020

Committee Membership:
  --Finance Committee
  --Executive Committee
  --Committee on Equal Opportunities

Laura Harper

Lori Harper

Laura Harper (Lori) is the western Kentucky vice president for Rogers Group, Inc., a nine-state company specializing in crushed stone, asphalt paving, sand, gravel and road construction. She is from Cadiz, KY and a graduate from Transylvania University.  In addition to her role on the Council, Lori is also a member of the executive committee at the KY Commission of Military Affairs, the chair of the Pennyrile Area Development District and a trustee of Transylvania University’s board. 

Appointment Date: April 17, 2018 (EO 2018-255)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2022

Committee Membership:  Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee (chair)

Lucas Mentzer

Lucas Mentzer of Lexington is an enterprise program manager for acquisitions and mergers with Kofax, Inc. He has more than 16 years of experience in information technology at the state, national and global level. Mentzer holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Centre College. He has been actively involved in the Lexmark mentoring program for high school students across Kentucky who are interested in STEM fields. In addition, he serves as the technical adviser for the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, a charity organization focused on providing early education to developmentally delayed children.

Appointment Dates:  July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499); Mar 28, 2017 (EO 2017-200)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2022

Committee Membership:
  --Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee
  --Kentucky Authority for Educational Television Board (representing state universities)

   

Grant Minix

Grant Minix, of Prestonsburg, is the student representative to the Council.  He is a senior at Eastern Kentucky University pursing a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in history.  He currently serves as EKU’s SGA executive vice president and has taken on leadership roles in other organizations, having previously served as Interfraternity Council vice president of recruitment, former president of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and as a Lambda Chi Alpha National Student Advisory Committee member. He is also a recipient of several prestigious awards including the 2018-19 Robert R. Begley Outstanding Senator Award and the EKU Regents Scholarship Award.

Appointment Date:  August 6, 2019 (EO 2019-599)
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2020

Committee Membership:
  --Finance Committee
  --Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee
  --Committee on Equal Opportunities

Donna Moore

Donna Moore of Lexington retired from Kentucky Educational Television in 2004. During her 30 years at KET she was senior producer of public affairs and director of programming before being named deputy executive director for programming and production. She chaired the Governor's Education Transition Team in 2007. She currently chairs the Midway University Board of Trustees, The Women's Network, the KET Authority and serves on various community boards. She holds an associate degree from Midway College and a Bachelor of Arts in business education from the University of Kentucky.

Appointment Date:  Dec 28, 2007 (EO 2007-074); Jan 10, 2014 (EO 2014-023)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2019

Committee Membership:
  --Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee
  --Kentucky Authority for Educational Television Board (representing UK)

Kristi Nelson

Kristi P. Nelson

Kristi P. Nelson of Union is vice president of Global Human Resources for Multi-Color Corporation (“MCC”), a Cincinnati, Ohio based leader in global label solutions.  She is responsible for overall human capital management for the company’s global workforce, which is comprised of approximately 10,000 employees across 86 plants in 26 countries.  She earned her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University, a juris doctorate from Salmon P. Chase College of Law and is admitted to the Kentucky and Ohio bars.  She currently serves on the board of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center Corporation and the Northern Kentucky University Foundation.  Prior to her appointment to CPE, Kristi served two consecutive four-year terms on the board for the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation.

Appointment Date:  July 27, 2017 (EO 2017-502); Apr 23, 2019 (EO 2019-292)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2024

Committee Membership:
  --Executive Committee
  --Nominating Committee


  

Richard Nelson

Richard Nelson of Cadiz is the executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center. He graduated with a bachelor of science with triple majors of biology, wildlife management and resource management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and earned a Master of Arts in public policy from Regent University. He is certified by the Wildlife Society as a wildlife biologist and certified by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as a secondary education teacher in environmental science.  He currently serves on the Pennyrile Christian Community Board and has  previously served on the Trigg County Hospital Corporation Board and also the Trigg County Fiscal Court as magistrate.

Appointment Date:  Aug 16, 2019 (EO 2019-292)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2022

 

OJ Oleka

Onyejindu (OJ) Oleka of Louisville is chief of staff and deputy treasurer for the Office of Kentucky State Treasurer.   He serves on many boards and committees, including the Kentucky Education and Business Advisory Panel, Louisville Promise Scholarship Work Group and the Kentucky Jumpstart Coalition.  Additionally, while obtaining his bachelor's degree, he served as president of the University of Louisville Student Government Association and chairman of the Board of all Student Body Presidents. Oleka holds a bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Louisville, a Masters of Business Administration from Bellarmine University, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in leadership in higher education from Bellarmine University.   

Appointment Date:  Apr 23, 2019 (EO 2019-292)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2024

Committee Membership:
  --Finance Committee
  --Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee

Vidya Ravichandran

Vidya Ravichandran of Louisville is a technology entrepreneur and owner of GlowTouch Technologies in Louisville. She serves on many boards, including the KentuckianaWorks Board of Trustees; Kentucky One Hospital Foundation Board, Mission and Stewardship Committee; Speed Art Museum, Board of Governors; Fund for the Arts Board of Trustees; Walden School Board of Trustees, Diversity Committee; and DuPont Manual High School Executive Committee. She serves as president of DuPont Manual Regional Science Fair, and is passionate about increasing student involvement in STEM fields and is an advocate for women in STEM. Ravichandran is a graduate of University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India and holds a master’s degree in molecular biology in horticulture from Virginia Tech.

Appointment Date: July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2021

Committee Membership: Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee

Robert H. Staat

Robert Staat, Ph.D., of Goshen, is the faculty representative to the Council. He joined the University of Louisville in 1976 as a professor of microbiology. In addition to his teaching duties and research on infectious dental diseases, he serves as a faculty senator and is the immediate past chair of the University of Louisville Faculty Senate. Currently, he is a member of the University of Louisville Athletic Association Board and the Coalition of Senate and Faculty Leaders. Staat's education includes a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of New Mexico and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. In addition to his work in academia, Dr. Staat is a hobbyist, woodworker and president of a model railroad manufacturing business.  

Appointment Date: July 31, 2013 (EO 2013-562); Jan 5, 2018 (EO 2018-021)
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2021

Committee Membership:
  --Finance Committee
  --Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee
  --Committee on Equal Opportunities

Brandon Wilson

Brandon Wilson, of Carlisle, is in agronomic and IT solutions for Davis Brothers Farms in Cunningham, Kentucky.  He is a former professor at the Murray State University Hutson School of Agriculture and has served on numerous boards and associations related to agriculture and agriculture education.  Wilson earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural science from Murray State University and a doctorate in agriculture education from Auburn University.  

Appointment Date: Apr 23, 2019 (EO 2019-292)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2023

Committee Membership:
  --Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee
  --Finance Committee

Carol Wright

Carol Wright of Tyner is president and CEO of Jackson Energy Cooperative, a non-profit electric cooperative headquartered in McKee that serves more than 52,000 members in 15 southeastern Kentucky counties. She has more than 26 years of experience in the electric utility industry. Ms. Wright is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. She also earned a master’s degree in business administration from Sullivan University. Ms. Wright served on the committee to establish the Lineman’s Training Center at Somerset Community College that opened in 2004, and served as chairman of the Advisory Committee for more than 10 years. Wright is actively involved in multiple community and civic clubs in Jackson Energy’s service territory. 

Appointment Date: July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499)
Current Term Expires: Dec 31, 2021

Current committees:
  --Finance Committee
  --Nominating Committee

Wayne Lewis

Wayne D. Lewis (ex-officio)

Dr. Wayne D. Lewis was named the Kentucky Commissioner of Education in 2018. Lewis has more than 15 years of experience in education, including work in public school districts, postsecondary institutions, and in state government. Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Dr. Lewis served as an appointed advisor to several Kentucky organizations. His published research and writing over the last decade has been in the areas of education policy and politics, school-family-community engagement, and school choice. Visit the Kentucky Department of Education's website for more about Lewis.

 

Last Updated 8/22/2019