State Board of Education

Members

Erin D. Benham, Vice Chairperson — Wallingford

Erin Benham

Erin D. Benham was reappointed to the Board by Governor Ned Lamont in January 2023. Ms. Benham was elected as Vice Chairperson of the Board in June 2023. She serves as Chair of the Board’s Accountability and Support Committee, and as a member of the Academic Standards and Assessment Committee. In June 2020, Ms. Benham was appointed to the State Education Resource Center Board (SERC). 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. Ms. Benham was the recipient of the President's Award by AFT Connecticut in 2019 and 2013. Her term expires in February 2027.

 

Bonnie E. Burr — Brookfield

Bonnie E. Burr

Bonnie E. Burr was reappointed by Governor Ned Lamont in March 2024. She serves as Chair of the Board’s Legislation and Policy Development Committee, and as a member on the Finance, Audit, and Budget Committee. Ms. 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 earned a B.S. in animal science and agriculture from the University of Connecticut, and an M.S. in administration and public and nonprofit administration from Western Connecticut State University. Ms. Burr serves on a number of community organizations, including as ex officio member, 4 H Education Center at Auerfarm; the Steering Committee of Working Lands Alliance, American Farmland Trust; the New England Holstein Dairy Cattle Association Board of Directors; and Connecticut trustee for the Eastern States Exposition. Her term expires in February 2028.

 

Terrence Cheng, Ex Officio — Hartford

Terrence Cheng

Terrence Cheng was appointed by the Board of Regents in May 2021 as the president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system. Mr. Cheng began his presidency on July 2, 2021, and serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the State Board of Education. As president of CSCU, Mr. Cheng oversees 12 community colleges, four state universities, and Charter Oak State College. Before being appointed president of CSCU, he served as director of the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus from 2016 to 2021, where he also served as a faculty member in the English department. He has held several academic and administrative leadership and faculty roles, including associate provost/assistant vice president of academic programs at Brooklyn College, associate dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at Lehman College, and chair of the Department of English at Lehman College. Both institutions are part of the City University of New York. Mr. Cheng, a first-generation student, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Binghamton University and an MFA in fiction from the University of Miami, where he was a James Michener Fellow. He is the author of two novels: Sons of Heaven (2002), and Deep in the Mountains (2007), as well as numerous published short stories and essays. In 2005, he received a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Donald F. Harris — Bloomfield

Donald Harris

Donald F. Harris, Jr. was reappointed to the Board by Governor Ned Lamont in February 2021. He serves as Chair of the Board’s Finance, Audit, and Budget Committee, and as a member on the Legislation and Policy Development Committee. 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. His term expires in February 2025.

 

Patricia Keavney-Maruca — Prospect

Patricia Keavney-Maruca

Patricia M. Keavney-Maruca was appointed by Governor Ned Lamont as chairperson of the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System (CTECS) Advisory Board in July 2022, and serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the State Board of Education. In 2011, Governor Malloy appointed Mrs. Keavney Maruca to serve as a voting member of the State Board of Education. She was assigned to the Technical High School subcommittee, and this began her path to the CTECS Governing Board. She served as vice chair on the CTECS Governing Board from 2018 to 2022, and as a member on the CTECS Governing Board from 2011 to 2018. Mrs. Keavney Maruca served on the 16-member panel of experts for the Governor-mandated Sandy Hook Advisory Commission from 2013 to 2015. The commission focused on safe school design and operation, law enforcement, public safety, and emergency, mental health, and mental wellness. Over the course of 33 years with CTECS, Mrs. Keavney-Maruca has functioned in a variety of positions as a teacher, department head, assistant principal, interim special education consultant and supervisor of the Bilingual Adult Evening programs. Prior to CTECS, she held the position of vice president of the State Vocational Federation of Teachers. Mrs. Keavney-Maruca received a B.S., an M.S., and sixth year professional degrees from Southern Connecticut State University. 

 

Allan B. Taylor — Hartford

Allan B. Taylor

Allan B. Taylor was reappointed to the Board by Governor Ned Lamont in April 2021. Mr. Taylor served as the chairperson of the Board from March 2005 through March 2021. He serves as a member on the Board’s Academic Standards and Assessment Committee. 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 on the Academic Standards and Assessment 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 2025.

 

Kellie-Marie Vallieres, Ex Officio — East Haddam

Kellie-Marie Vallieres

Dr. Kelli-Marie Vallieres was appointed to the Board by statute that was signed into law by Governor Lamont and effective July 1, 2021, and serves as an ex officio, nonvoting member. Dr. Vallieres is the chief workforce officer of the newly established Office of Workforce Strategy and the vice chair of the Governor’s Workforce Council. She is an owner of two manufacturing companies, Sound Manufacturing Inc. and Monster Power Equipment, where she served as president and CEO for 14 years before stepping down to take on her new role with the State of Connecticut. Dr. Vallieres has served and presently serves on the board of several organizations. She is president emeritus for the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance and continues to serve on the board of directors for Eastern Workforce Investment Board. She serves on the Connecticut Department of Labor Apprenticeship Council, the Department of Economic and Community Development Manufacturing Innovation Fund Advisory Committee, and she is an emeritus board member of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. Dr. Vallieres served as a member of the Statewide Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Committee for the state college and university system and worked with Three Rivers Community College to develop their precision sheet metal program and the Early College Opportunity Programs. Dr. Vallieres earned her degree in educational leadership and adult learning from the University of Connecticut. Dr. Vallieres is able to combine her roles in industry and education to develop learning curricula and establish educational pathway programs from secondary through postsecondary educational systems.

 

Seth D. Zimmerman — New Haven

Dr. Seth D. Zimmerman Dr. Seth D. Zimmerman was appointed to the Board by Governor Ned Lamont in December 2023. Dr. Zimmerman serves as a supporting member on the Accountability and Support Committee. He is a professor of economics at the Yale School of Management. He studies labor economics and public finance with a focused interest in the economics of education, and his research centers on the design, implementation, and evaluation of education policy. Dr. Zimmerman previously taught economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is an academic advisor at two nonprofit organizations, RIPL and ConsiliumBots, where data, science, and technology are used to help policymakers make better-informed decisions; he conducts ongoing research projects with these organizations. Dr. Zimmerman earned a B.A. 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. Dr. Zimmerman is a recipient of two National Science Foundation Grants. His term expires in February 2027.

 

Charlene Russell-Tucker, Secretary — Guilford

Charlene Russell-Tucker

Charlene M. Russell-Tucker was appointed by Governor Ned Lamont as Commissioner for the Connecticut State Department of Education in August 2021. Until her appointment, she served as Acting Commissioner from March through August.  Prior to serving as Acting Commissioner, she served as the Department’s Deputy Commissioner, a role in which she oversaw educational supports and wellness priorities. Previously, she served as Chief Operating Officer and Division Chief for the Department's Office of Student Supports and Organizational Effectiveness. She also served as Associate Commissioner of Education and Bureau Chief within the Department, previously overseeing a portfolio of programs and services that included student health, nutrition and safety, family engagement, magnet and charter schools, afterschool programs and services, school climate, adult education, and special education. She is a performance-driven and visionary education leader with over 20 years’ experience in successfully leveraging the inter-connectedness of the social, emotional, physical, and mental health of students and their families as foundations for positive school and life outcomes. She passionately supports family and community engagement in education and has successfully led school attendance and school discipline initiatives with intensive focus on equity and diversity. Ms. Russell-Tucker has participated on various state and national committees, such as the Connecticut General Assembly Committee on Children Strategic Action Group on Chronic Absence, and she has served as an expert panel member on committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She has also served in the role of president of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and as a member of the national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Ms. Russell-Tucker has extensive teaching experience, formerly serving as an adjunct faculty member at Albertus Magnus College School of New Dimensions.