State Board of Education

Members

Allan B. Taylor, Chairperson — Hartford

Allan B Taylor

Allan B. Taylor was reappointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2017 and has served as the chairperson of the Board since 2005. Mr. Taylor recently retired as the legislative and legal advisor to the Hartford City Council, after 37 years in the private practice of law. He has an extensive record of public service in the Hartford community. He earned an A.B. from Harvard College; an M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government,Harvard University; and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Mr. Taylor has served on the Board since 1994, and serves as Chair of the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee. Mr.Taylor was elected as the Northeast Area Director of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) in 2014-15 and 2008-09, president-elect of NASBE (2010), and served as NASBE president in 2011. In recognition of his significant accomplishments and contributions to public education at the local, state and national levels, Mr. Taylor was selected by NASBE as a recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Service Award. His term expires in February 2021.

Estela López, Vice Chairperson — East Hartford

Estela Lopez

Estela López was reappointed to the Board by Governor Ned Lamont in April 2019, and was elected as Vice Chairperson of the Board in June 2019. In January 2015, Dr. López was appointed Interim Provost of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, and served in that capacity through June 2016. Prior to that, she served as a senior associate with Excelencia in Education. She is the former vice chancellor of academic affairs of Connecticut State University System, serving from 2002 to 2007. From 1997 to 2002, Dr. López served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern Illinois University. Dr. López has received numerous awards, including the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association 2008 Achievement Award and the 2006 Latina Citizen of the Year Award. She is Chair of the Board’s Accountability and Support Committee and a member of the Academic Standards and Assessment Committee, and has served on the Ad Hoc Committee on Accountability. Dr. López was elected as the Northeast Area Director of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) in 2018. Dr. López earned a bachelor’s degree from Queens College, and both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Spanish literature from Columbia University. Her term expires in February 2023.

Erin D. Benham — Wallingford

Erin Benham

Erin D. Benham was reappointed to the Board by Governor Ned Lamont in April 2019. She serves as Chair of the Board’s Legislation and Policy Development Committee and a member of the Accountability and Support Committee. She taught in Meriden Public Schools for 36 years and is the retired president of the Meriden Federation of Teachers and executive committee vice president of AFT Connecticut. She also serves on the board of directors for Project Excel and The Sisters' Project. She earned a bachelor's degree from Saint Joseph College and a master's degree and educational leadership degree from Southern Connecticut State University. Mrs. Benham was the recipient of the President's Award by AFT Connecticut in 2019 and 2013. Her term expires in February 2023.

Miguel A. Cardona — Meriden

Miguel A. Cardona

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona was appointed Commissioner of Education by Governor Ned Lamont in August 2019. Dr. Cardona comes to the State Department of Education with two decades of experience as a public school educator from the city of Meriden. He began his career as an elementary school teacher and then served as a school principal for 10 years. Miguel transitioned to the central office to lead the work of performance and evaluation in the district. In 2013, he assumed the role of assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. Dr. Cardona served as the co-chairperson of the Connecticut Legislative Achievement Gap Task Force as well as co-chairperson of the Connecticut Birth to Grade Three Leaders Council. He also taught for four years as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Educational Leadership. Dr. Cardona attended Meriden Public Schools and graduated from Wilcox Technical High School. Miguel attended Central Connecticut State University for his bachelor’s degree and UConn, where he completed his master’s in bilingual/bicultural education, Administrator Preparation Program, doctorate in Education, and Executive Leadership Program (superintendent) certificate. A lifelong Meriden resident and product of its public schools, Miguel is very active in his community, having served or currently serving on several non-profit charitable organization boards of directors. As Commissioner of Education, Dr. Cardona serves as the secretary of the State Board of Education.

Milan Chand — Newtown

Milan Chand

Milan Chand was appointed to the Board by Governor Ned Lamont in August 2019 as one of two nonvoting student members. Milan is a senior at Newtown High School in Sandy Hook, where he is a member of the National Honors Society, World Language Honors Society, and Hawks Honors Association. Mr. Chand serves as a student representative on the Newtown Board of Education (term expires June 2020). Milan is the founder and co-president of a social issue discussion club called Courageous Conversations; director of the Executive Board of the Newtown International Center for Education (NICE); co-president of the Intergenerational Collaborative Connections (ICC) group, which connects senior citizens and high school students; and is student leader for Families United in Newtown (F.U.N.), a nonprofit that helps children with autism. Milan received the Honan Award for Best Overall Junior, AP Biology Book Award, Superintendents Award, and is a Yale Physics Olympics first-place winner. Mr. Chand interns at a nonprofit organization for neuroscience called the Avielle Foundation, works in a clinical research lab at Yale, and interned at Danbury Hospital. Milan volunteers for REACH, a mentoring program between high school students and elementary kids; traveled to Puerto Rico to help Hurricane Maria survivors; tutors students in math; and volunteers as a summer camp counselor. He is on the varsity indoor track team, varsity tennis team, and is the manager of the boys cross country team. Following graduation in June 2020, Milan plans to major in neuroscience. His term expires in June 2020.

Sophia H. Chin — South Windsor

Sophia Chin

Sophia H. Chin was appointed to the Board by Governor Ned Lamont in August 2019 as one of two nonvoting student members. Sophia is a senior at South Windsor High School in South Windsor, where she is co-council of the National Junior Classical League (Latin Honors Society), president of the Model United Nations chapter, as well as president of the Future Health Professionals club. Ms. Chin was recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction by the College Board and received awards at the state conference for Model United Nations along with medals at the state Science Olympiad competition. Sophia is the school’s blood drive student coordinator and organizes three blood drives with the American Red Cross during the school year. Sophia also travels throughout Connecticut as an American Red Cross donor ambassador to help run blood drives. Ms. Chin is a Prudential Spirit of Community honoree and has been recognized for volunteering with Saint Francis Hospital and as a summer tennis instruction with her local parks and recreation department. Ms. Chin is a varsity captain for the girls tennis team. She was as an all-academic player, a member of the all-Courant team, the all-conference team for the Central Connecticut Conference, and an all-state singles player for spring 2019. Following graduation in June 2020, Sophia plans to major in international studies and minor in business on a law school track. Her term expires in June 2020.

Erik M. Clemons — New Haven

Erik Clemons

Erik M. Clemons was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2016 and is a member of the Academic Standards and Assessment Committee. Mr. Clemons is the founding chief executive officer and president of the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology Inc. (ConnCAT), an organization that prepares youth and adults for educational and career advancement through after-school arts and job training programming in the areas of health sciences and culinary professions, and links adult learners with local corporate partners. Prior to that, Mr. Clemons served as the executive director of the Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership, Inc. and as the director of career technical training for the New Haven Job Corps Center in New Haven. He is the Chair of the board of the Housing Authority of New Haven and is a member of the board of Connecticut Voices for Children. Mr. Clemons received a B.S. degree in sociology from Southern Connecticut State University and a M.A. in theology and ethics from Hartford Seminary. Mr. Clemons’ term expires in February 2020.

William P. Davenport — Litchfield

William Davenport

William P. Davenport was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2016. He serves on the Board’s Accountability and Support Committee and the Legislation and Policy Development Committee. Mr. Davenport is the 4 H Youth Development Educator at the Litchfield County UConn Extension Center. In June 2019, Mr. Davenport retired as the director of the Ellis Clark Regional Agriscience and Technology Program and from 33 years as an agriscience teacher at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury. He was selected as Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year in 2004, and has served on the Teacher of the Year Council since 2005. Mr. Davenport received numerous awards as a teacher and advocate for agricultural education, and is a member of the National FFA Organization Board of Directors, the Litchfield County Farm Bureau, and the Connecticut Farm Bureau. Mr. Davenport received a B.S. and M.S. in animal science from the University of Connecticut, and a sixth-year diploma in administration and supervision from Southern Connecticut State University. Mr. Davenport’s term expires in February 2020.

Donald F. Harris — Bloomfield

Donald Harris

Donald F. Harris, Jr. was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in February 2017. Mr. Harris has been an active member of the Bloomfield community for the past 55 years. A graduate of Bloomfield High School, he became a teacher, coach, athletic director, vice principal and principal in the Bloomfield Public Schools. Mr. Harris serves as the chairperson of the Bloomfield Board of Education, and served as the deputy mayor of the Bloomfield Town Council from 2007-2011. He currently serves on the Connecticut Commission on Equity and Opportunity, the Capital Region Education Council Board of Directors, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Board of Directors, the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board, and the Rotary Club. Mr. Harris received a B.S. from Springfield College, and an M.S. and sixth-year degree in education administration from the University of Hartford. Mr. Harris’ s term expires in February 2021.

Mark E. Ojakian, Ex Officio — West Hartford

Mark Ojakian

Mark E. Ojakian was appointed by the Board of Regents for Higher Education in September 2015 to serve as president of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) System and serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the State Board of Education. As president of CSCU, Mr. Ojakian oversees 12 community colleges, four state universities and Charter Oak State College. Prior to being appointed president of CSCU, he served as chief of staff to Governor Dannel P. Malloy. Mr. Ojakian has also served as deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management and as deputy comptroller in the Office of the Comptroller, where he supervised more than 250 employees and over $1 billion in state accounts. Earlier in his public service career, Mr. Ojakian served as the special advisor to the commissioner of the Department of Higher Education. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from St. Anselm College in New Hampshire and a master’s degree in international relations from the American University in Washington, D.C.

Malia K. Sieve — Norwich

Malia Sieve

Malia K. Sieve was appointed to the Board by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in 2016 and serves on the Accountability and Support Committee. Ms. Sieve is a director at HCM Strategists in Washington, D.C., where she works with system and institutional leaders from regional universities and community colleges and elected officials on higher education goal setting, monitoring, and policy development in states across the country. Prior to her current job, Ms. Sieve worked as an independent consultant for HCM Strategists and for AEM Corporation, where she provided policy direction on strategic planning and developing data systems to improve outcomes. She also served as associate director for policy and research for the Connecticut Board of Regents of Higher Education, director of the United Way of Connecticut Community Results Center, and project director of the Connecticut Policy and Economic Council. Ms. Sieve received a B.S. degree from the University of Connecticut, School of Family Studies, and a M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut, School of Social Work. She served on the Norwich (CT) District Data Team and on the Huntington School Governance Council (Norwich, CT). Ms. Sieve’s term expires in February 2020.

Robert J. Trefry, Ex Officio — Fairfield

Robert Trefry

Robert Trefry was appointed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy as Chair of the Connecticut Education and Career System Governing Board in October 2012, and serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the State Board of Education. He served as the chair of the State-appointed Bridgeport Board of Education from 2011 to 2012. Mr. Trefry is the retired president/chief executive officer of Bridgeport Hospital and executive vice president of the Yale New Haven Health System. He is a Columbia University certified executive and organizational coach, and currently is an executive and organizational coach with Path Quest Coaching and Consulting. He currently serves on the boards of the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. Mr. Trefry has an undergraduate degree in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia, and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the School of Business at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He is a life fellow of the American College of Health Care Executives and a member of the International Coaching Federation.