Chief Executive Officer

Sharon Bonney

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 45,000 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. Moreover, she has diversified and increased revenue streams for the organization by envisioning, designing, and implementing many innovative strategies.

Chief of Staff

Michelle Chiles-Fourcoy

Michelle has served in a variety of positions since joining the organization back in 2012. 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.

Project Manager

Lindsey Lord

Lindsey has served as Project Manager since 2019. 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. 

Creative Director

James Bonney

James brought ten years of experience as a graphic designer to his role of Creative Director at COABE. Since joining COABE in 2017, 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. 

Information Coordinator

Bethel Fernandez

Bethel became COABE’s Information Coordinator in early 2018. 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. 

Membership Coordinator

Christina Reitz

Christina Reitz began as a receptionist and is now the Membership Coordinator for COABE. She has served the company since 2017 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.

Office Support

Moriah Sampson

Moriah joined the COABE team in 2017. 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. 

Communications Coordinator

Julie Knack

Julie Knack is a new addition to the COABE team, joining last fall of 2022. Previously an ENL teacher in an urban school district, Julie has spent the last several years in higher education teaching methods courses and preparing future ENL teachers in a residency model format. She holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in differentiation, and dual majored for her undergraduate degree in TESOL and linguistics. Today she serves as the Communications Coordinator for COABE, integrating our eblast, website, and social media content. In addition, she oversees the creation of our adult success stories and press releases to the public. 

COABE Journal Editor

Don Finn

Don Finn, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at Regent University, COABE Journal Editor, and served on the COABE board of directors in several capacities including Board President (2019-2021). He chairs Regent’s Adult Education, C&I, and Educational Technology programs. His 30-yearlong career includes teaching middle, high, adult high school, master’s, and postmaster’s students. Dr. Finn has led projects for the Virginia DOE, VCU, and VAACE, Virginia’s adult education association, and has delivered numerous workshops and PD sessions nationally.

Student as Leaders Coordinator

Erin Vobornik

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. 

Conference Coordinator

Chad Boyer

A former police officer, with attention to detail, Chad Boyer currently serves as COABE’s conference coordinator. Attending to conference logistics, Chad ensures that all of COABE’s national conference meeting rooms are well-planned and set up. In addition, he provides support to the award winners and keynote speakers, navigating busy schedules to create a seamless experience for the members attending. Chad also oversees the logistics and materials for COABE’s presence at state and national conferences. Chad’s strongest attributes are his communication skills, as well as his ability to stay organized. He is a motivated, hard-working individual who is always a team player. 

Presenter Coach

Steven Schmidt

Steve Schmidt is an adult education consultant, and he moderates the LINCS Reading and Writing Community Group. He has worked in adult basic education for more than 30 years as an ABE, HSE, and AHS instructor, program director, and professional developer. Steve is the author of Writing for the GED® Test Book 4 and holds an Ed.S. in adult and developmental education. He has delivered hundreds of workshops on a variety of topics for many years, including the last 12 years at COABE. 

Google Scholar Mentor/Instructor

Heather Engelhart

Heather Engelhart is currently an Adult Education Adjunct Instructor at Waubonsee Community College in Aurora, Illinois. She has 24+ years of experience in education. This includes areas of instruction, training, curriculum development, implementation of new programs, as well as mentoring. Heather began teaching at the primary level of public education where she received her master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum. For the past 8 years, Heather has been an instructor in the Adult Ed program where she has taught a variety of classes including ELA, Microsoft Office ICAPs, ABE and ASE for math and language arts instruction. Heather has collaborated with colleagues in curriculum writing, she co-created a Technology Bootcamp to inboard new students, presented professional development opportunities for new technology and trained new teachers. The past three years, Heather has been teaching in a Flex Classroom. This gives her the opportunity to learn and understand how this modality can benefit the students’ varying learning styles and increase retention.

In addition to her work in the classroom, Heather has also earned a certification for ABE/ASE Language Arts Specialist and a Certificate in Effective College Instruction through ACUE. She has also had the honor of receiving Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member from Waubonsee Community College in 2022.