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Governor Ned Lamont


Governor Lamont and Commissioner Russell-Tucker Applaud Legislative Confirmation of State Board of Education Members

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker are applauding the Connecticut General Assembly for voting to confirm all seven of the governor’s nominees to the Connecticut State Board of Education. The Senate approved the nominees on Wednesday, and the House of Representatives confirmed the members earlier this month.

Dr. Juan Carlos Salazar, Dr. Seth D. Zimmerman, and Kristen A. Record have been confirmed as new members; Bonnie E. Burr and Erik M. Clemons return as re-appointments; and high school seniors Connor Cowan and Yasmeen Galal will continue to serve as non-voting student members.

“The State Board of Education plays a vital role in setting educational standards, policies, and regulations, ensuring that our schools provide the best possible learning experience for all students,” Governor Lamont said. “With a diverse membership, the State Board of Education will be able to consider a wide range of viewpoints, leading to more innovative solutions and policies that better serve the needs of our diverse student population.”

“I am pleased to welcome the new members to the State Board of Education,” Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “Their extensive experience in education, policy making, physical and behavioral health, and community engagement will be instrumental in shaping the future of education in Connecticut. The State Board of Education plays a critical role in addressing the academic and non-academic needs of all Connecticut students so that they can thrive. Alongside our re-appointees and student members, I am confident our newest members will assist in achieving the board’s goal of ensuring that every student is prepared for learning, life, and work beyond school.

Now that their nominations have been approved by the legislature, Record, Salazar, Zimmerman, Burr, Clemens, Galal, and Cowan, will join the board’s currently serving members – Vice Chairperson Erin D. Benham, Terrence Cheng, Donald F. Harris, Patricia Keavney-Maruca, Allan B. Taylor, and Kellie-Marie Vallieres – at its next regularly scheduled meeting on May 1, 2024.

Additional background on the approved members:

  • Dr. Salazar, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a distinguished pediatrician, professor, and chair of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He serves as executive vice president and physician-in-Chief at Connecticut Children’s, where he has led the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology. Funded by multiple grants from the National Institute of Health, Dr. Salazar has conducted groundbreaking research on Lyme disease and is currently focused on developing a syphilis vaccine and studying the pathogenesis of COVID-19 and MIS-C with a team spanning China, Malawi, Colombia, and the United States. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and has served on multiple scientific review panels at the NIH. Dr. Salazar received his medical degree from Universidad Javeriana, Colombia, and MPH from the University of Minnesota.
  • Kristen Record, M.Ed., has been a dedicated physics teacher at Bunnell High School in Stratford since 2000. She is a certified mentor for Connecticut’s TEAM program, supporting new teachers, and a cooperating teacher for pre-service educators. Named the 2011 Connecticut Teacher of the Year, Record holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from Fairfield University and a Master of Education in teaching and learning from Harvard. Inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2023, she tirelessly advocates for STEM education and has been recognized with prestigious awards, including the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Record has served on the Connecticut Legislative Task Force for Secondary School Reform and the Next Generation Science Standards District Advisory Committee.
  • Dr. Seth Zimmerman earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and social science from Dartmouth College and holds a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University. He has authored and co-authored a number of published academic papers and is a recipient of two National Science Foundation Grants. Dr. Zimmerman is currently a professor of economics at the Yale School of Management, specializing in labor economics and public finance, with a focused interest in the economics of education. Dr. Zimmerman previously taught economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His research centers on the design, implementation, and evaluation of education policy.
  • Ms. Bonnie E. Burr is the assistant director and department head with the Cooperative Extension System at the University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. She provides leadership and assistance to 105 faculty and staff managing a wide variety of outreach and educational programs involving public engagement in local, state, regional, national, and international programs. Ms. Burr serves as state chair of the State Committee United States Department of Agriculture and Farm Service Agency for Connecticut. She earned a Bachelor of Science in animal science and agriculture from the University of Connecticut, and an Master of Science in administration and public and nonprofit administration from Western Connecticut State University.
  • Mr. Erik C. Clemons was first appointed to the State Board of Education by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in February 2016. 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 Bachelor of Science in sociology from Southern Connecticut State University and a Master of Arts in theology and ethics from Hartford Seminary.
  • Connor Cowan, whose term will finish in July 2024, is a senior at Fairfield Ludlowe High School (FLHS), where he is a member of the National Honor Society and President of the school's student government. He has served as the youngest student representative on Fairfield’s District Improvement Plan Steering Committee, focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Passionate about environmental sustainability, Cowan has led initiatives to certify FLHS as a Connecticut Green LEAF School, has served on Fairfield’s Sustainable Task Force, and conducted research at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. Named a climate innovations fellow by Civics Unplugged, Connor plans to major in environmental science and public policy.
  • Yasmeen Galal, whose term will finish in July 2024, is a senior at Woodland Regional High School (WRHS), where she is a member of four National Honor Societies and pursuing the WRHS Learning Pathway courses in computer science and engineering. She serves as Vice President of the Student Body Government and President of the Connecticut Association of Student Councils (CASC), leading efforts to foster collaboration and innovation among student leaders. Galal is passionate about technology and policy and serves as lead programmer for her Gus Robotics team. Recognized as a National Aspirations in Computer Award winner and a Coca Cola Scholar, she plans to major in computer science and political science.

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