COABE Leadership


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 23,000 active members in 2019.

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 engage more than 18,000 members. Bonney also developed 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 110,000 contacts with legislators at the local, state and federal levels. These efforts resulted in a $35 million increase in funding for adult education. In addition, Bonney has diversified and increased revenue streams for the organization. Read bio >

COABE Executive Commitee

Voting Members of the Board

President (2019-2021)

Dr. Don Finn

Don has been an adult educator since 1992 and currently serves associate professor of education specializing in adult education, professional development, curriculum and instruction, and leadership at the Regent University School of Education (SOE).   Read bio >

Past President (2019-2021)

Kaye Sharbono

Kaye Sharbono is the retired Director of DeltaLINC, the Literacy Initiative for North Louisiana Communities which provides Adult and Family Literacy Education to over 3000 students per year in over 30 sites throughout the region. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education as well as a Master’s Degree Plus Thirty in Educational Administration and Supervision with endorsements in Adult and Early Childhood Education. Read bio >

President-Elect (2019–2021)

Jody Angelone

Jody Angelone has served in Adult Education for over 25 years and is currently the Staff Training & Development Coordinator for the Ohio Professional Development Network, at The Ohio State University. She has worked as a reading specialist, instructor, coordinator and program director in the context of Correctional Education, ABLE/GED, Workplace Education, Volunteer Literacy, Vocational Evaluation & Assessment and Professional Development. Read bio >

Secretary (2019-2021), Communications/Media & Region 3 (2017-2020)

Jeff Arnott

Jeff Arnott has extensive experience in the administration of adult education programs in the state of Florida. He is an active member of the Adult and Community Educators of Florida state-level board where he serves as the treasurer and standing board member. He is the current president of the Florida Adult and Technical Distance Education Consortium and he is an instructor for the Institute of Professional Development for Adult Educators. Read bio >

Vice President of Membership (2017-2020)

Dr. Debbie Faubus-Kendrick

Dr. Debbie Faubus-Kendrick has been an educator for 35 years. For over nine years, she has fulfilled the role as director of the Crawford County Adult Education Center in Van Buren, Arkansas. Debbie is an adjunct psychology professor for Vincennes University.   Read bio >

Treasurer (2015–2019) & Public Policy Chair

Polly Smith

Polly Smith’s hook into adult literacy began as a volunteer tutor many years ago and she has never looked back. She has received the Alaska Adult Education Association Administrator’s Award and the John L. Hulbert Award for outstanding long term contributions to adult learning.  Read bio >

Regional Representatives

Voting Members of the Board

Region 1 (2017-2020)

David Downes

David Downes has worked at all levels of education during his career, beginning with graduate level research in counseling and instruction at a community college, to counseling and remediation work in K-12 systems, and culminating in adult and continuing education administration in Connecticut for the past eleven years.  Read bio >

Region 2 (2019-2022)

Shaketta D. Thomas

Shaketta D. Thomas is currently the Testing Director for the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC). Ms. Thomas completed her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia State University, a master’s in adult education from Regent University, and is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in educational psychology, also at Regent University.  Read bio >

Region 4 (2019-2022)

Michael Matos

Michael’s combined experience includes 7 years with CPS as a high school teacher and an additional 20 years as an adult education teacher and administrator. He taught 5 subjects in ABE/GED® instruction, all levels of ESL, and was an administrator at Adult Education Community Center.   Read bio >

Region 5 (2017-2020)

Alex Harris

Alex Harris has been the state director for adult education in Iowa since January 2012. As the director and state administrator for the HiSET,™ Alex leads the department’s efforts in adult education for achieving high school equivalency diplomas. Iowa’s adult education and literacy mission is to provide accessible, quality instruction that develops life, work, and literacy skills.  Read bio >

Region 6 (2019-2022)

Olga M. Escamilla

Olga M. Escamilla has worked in adult education since 1994. She began her career in adult education as a teacher’s aide and progressively moved to GED® instructor, ABE supervisor, and in 2004 she served as the administrator of the South Central GREAT (Getting Results Educating Adults in Texas) Center for professional development. She provided coordination of regional and state-wide professional development in adult education for 10 years.  Read bio >

Region 7 (2018-2021)

Laurie Kierstead-Joseph

Laurie Kierstead-Joseph is motivated to serve on the COABE Board to support Region 7 students and teachers through high-quality professional learning and highlighting the impact and importance of adult education. Laurie has served in adult education for nearly 20 years. She began her career as a volunteer in the ESL classroom and quickly discovered that adult education was where she was meant to be.  Read bio >

Region 8 (2018-2021)

Larriann Torrez

Mrs. Larriann Torrez was born and raised in the Central Valley. She earned her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Fresno Pacific University, including a Bachelor of Arts in Management and Organizational Leadership and a Master of Arts in Education and Administration Services. Mrs. Torrez is completing a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Brandman University and will graduate in May of 2018. Read bio >

Committee Members

Nonvoting Members of the Board

Strand Partner Chair

Connie Rivera

Connie Rivera facilitates opportunities for adult learners and their teachers that enable them to learn in new environments, discover connections, and develop greater understanding of the subject matter.  Connie is proud to have served as president of the Adult Numeracy Network and as the Numeracy Strand Partner to COABE during her presidency.  Read bio >

Task Force Chairs

Nonvoting Members of the Board

Prison Literacy Behind and Beyond the Walls Chair

Jeff Abramowitz

Jeffrey Abramowitz, J.D is currently the Executive Director of Reentry Services for JEVS Human Services. Jeff is also the founder and President of Looking Forward Community Engagement Partnership, a non-profit agency that works with individuals who have barriers to gainful employment and provides staff training and development in the area of workforce development. Read bio >

Workforce Partnership Chair

Jesse McCree

Jesse McCree is the CEO of SCPa Works, the regional workforce development board whose mission is to unlock the human talent that drives the development of businesses and individuals, creating opportunity for growth and prosperity for the South Central PA region. Under Jesse’s leadership, SCPa Works invests over $14M of public funds, annually supporting a labor force of over 740,000 people. Read bio >

Fund Development Chair

Joshua Evans

With a career in education spanning over 20 years, Josh Evans has always demonstrated a passion for adult learners as a teacher or administrator. Josh has previously held educational positions with governmental agencies, universities and colleges, and nonprofit organizations. Read bio >

Student Engagement Chair

Regina Suitt

Regina Suitt is the Dean for Adult Education at Pima Community College. She leads multiple district-wide complex programs including all Arizona Department of Education funded Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education, and English Language Acquisition for Adults. Read bio >

Regional Map

The Coalition on Adult Basic Education provides leadership, communication, professional development, and advocacy for adult education and literacy practitioners nationwide with the leadership of 8 Regional Representatives.
COABE regional map