COABE Staff

Sharon Bonney – Chief Executive Officer

Sharon Bonney began her career with COABE as a part-time administrator in 2009, moving up in the organization as she showed an unparalleled commitment to the field of adult education. Sharon has helped advance the organization on a number of fronts, including managing efforts to move it from a 1,300 member group in 2009 to 35,000+ active members in 2022. She was the guiding force behind designing and implementing a new national conference model, developing new state, national, and workforce partnerships with more than 100 organizations, rebranding the COABE research journal and a related research-to-practice initiative, and designing all new professional development offerings, including webinars that have engaged more than 50,000 participants. Bonney spearheaded the development of the internationally acclaimed, six-time award-winning Educate and Elevate public awareness campaign, which brought much-needed visibility to the value of adult education and prompted more than 250,000 contacts with legislators at the local, state, and federal levels. These efforts staved off $200 million in funding cuts and added a $108 million increase in funding for adult education. In addition, Bonney successfully promoted a national two-time award winning campaign, Move Ahead with Adult Ed, to increase enrollments in local adult education programs that were hard hit by the pandemic. Moreover, she has diversified and increased revenue streams for the organization by envisioning, designing, and implementing many innovative strategies.

Michelle Chiles-Fourcoy – Chief of Staff

Michelle has served in a variety of positions since joining the organization ten years ago. Her path has been marked by hard work and the desire to always represent COABE well. She started as temporary data entry help, moved to Registration Clerk, Coordinator, Office Manager, and then Operations Director. Today she serves as our Chief of Staff, who oversees the operations of our organization and staff. Michelle plays an integral role in planning, managing, and executing our annual conference and state virtual conferences from start to finish. She has always served with dedication and professionalism, often going the extra mile to ensure excellent service for COABE members and the board. With her hand in many facets of the day-to-day operations, Michelle is beloved on our team as well as the field, and is known for her responsiveness and wealth of knowledge.

Lindsey Lord – Project Manager

Lindsey has served as Project Manager for three years. Known for her ability to multitask, Lindsey helps organize and orchestrate our adult education symposiums and virtual conferences as well as our advocacy events, such as AEFL week. She also coordinates COABE’s eblasts and weekly newsletter, and assists in updating our website. Additionally, she manages the production of COABE’s journal, oversees the awards process, helps with onboarding our new State Advocates for Adult Education Fellows (SAAEF) and collaborates with several team members to accomplish tasks. Lindsey is involved with most of the initiatives that COABE puts forward, and is an invaluable asset to our organization. 

James Bonney – Creative Director

James brought ten years of experience as a graphic designer to his role of Creative Director at COABE. For the last five years, James has coordinated aspects of COABE’s social media and website design. In addition, he collaborates with the team to create marketing initiatives and determines branding strategies for specific projects. Known for his good nature and creativity, James brings an innovative approach to all of COABE’s signage and multimedia marketing projects. 

Bethel Fernandez – Information Coordinator

Bethel became COABE’s Information Coordinator over five years ago. She updates our database with the most recent statistics available, responds to general inquiries from the field, and is ready to assist with any projects or tasks needed. In addition, Bethel plays a key role in assisting with registration for our well-attended annual conference. Known for her can-do attitude, Bethel coordinates with our Project Manager, Communications Director and Office Support specialist to assist our members and our team in every way possible. 

Christina Reitz – Membership Coordinator

Christina Reitz began as a receptionist and is now the Membership Coordinator for COABE. She has served the company for five years, and is known for her hard work and consistency. Christina assists individuals and groups in purchasing COABE memberships, giving them access to all of the trainings and advocacy services that we offer. She facilitates communication with our members and is always warm and responsive in updating membership information, processing payments and responding to any questions our members might have.

Moriah Sampson – Office Support 

Moriah joined the COABE team five years ago. Today she serves as an Office Support specialist. Moriah always responds to our members within a 24-hour time period and maintains careful detail in her work. She creates and updates webinar information via Zoom, liaises with our webinar presenters, and often collaborates with our Information Coordinator to ensure the webinar experience runs smoothly for all of our members. Moriah also assists our team with the IBM SkillsBuild project. Known for her positive outlook and team spirit, Moriah is an asset to our team. 

Stephen Knack – Communications Coordinator

Stephen Knack is a new addition to the COABE team. In recent years, he has primarily taught English as a New Language at the primary and secondary level, but has also performed copywriting and technical support. Today he serves as the Communications Coordinator for COABE, integrating our eblast, website, and social media content. In addition, he oversees the creation of our adult success stories and press releases to the public. 

Erin Vobornik – Student as Leaders Coordinator

Erin has been involved with COABE as a SAAEF fellow and co-host of our Advocast Podcast since 2021. Now, as our “Students as Leaders” Coordinator, Erin engages with adult education students, faculty and programs to create and refine tools for student engagement and leadership. As an adult education teacher herself, Erin collaborates with others in the field to promote advocacy from the ground up. Known for her eagerness to connect with people from all walks of life around the nation, Erin’s innovative spirit brings life to this position. 

Sarah Goldammer- Presenter Coach

Sarah has worked in the field over 20 years as an educational training specialist in adult education. With a B.S. in Special Education and an M.S. in Higher education, Sarah now serves as COABE’s Presenter Coach as well as the Director of the Southern Illinois Professional Development Center. In this role Sarah creates and shares live and recorded tutorials, advises leadership on professional development decisions, and provides individual support to presenters looking to present with excellence. Known for her wealth of knowledge in the field, Sarah leads our presenters with encouragement and inspiration.