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 28,000 active members in 2020. Read bio >

COABE Executive Commitee

Voting Members of the Board

President (2021-2023)

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 >

Past President (2021-2023)

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 >

President-Elect (2021-2023)

Regina Suitt

Regina is a product of Adult Education and has dedicated over 30 years to a career in education. Like many in the field, she started as a part-time teacher working and living on the Tohono O’odham Nation teaching High School English. It was then that she began teaching night time GED classes part time in a village meeting house. She moved on to teach full time in the Pima County Jail for 8 years while also teaching as adjunct faculty at the State Prison. Her work has always been grounded by “a teacher’s heart”.  Read bio >

Secretary (2021-2023)

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. Jeff was the founder of the National Workforce Opportunity Network, a fully integrated workforce development agency. Read bio >

Vice President of Membership (2021-2022)

Dr. Larriann Torrez

Dr. 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 graduated from Brandman University in May 2018. She received her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. Read bio >

Treasurer (2017-2023) & 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 (2020-2023)

Kristin Hempel

An educator for over 20 years, Kristin Hempel has been a passionate adult education administrator and advocate in CT for the past 7 years. Previously, she was an elementary principal in NY and a teacher and high school administrator in RI. 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 3 (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 4 (2019-2022)

Dr. Olga M. Escamilla

Dr. 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 5 (2021-2024)

Stephenie Rittberger

Stephenie Rittberger, adult education coordinator for the Career Learning Center of the Black Hills, has been with adult education as a division of Black Hills Special Services Cooperative for twenty years. Her experience in adult education has been a varied and enriching experience. Mrs. Rittberger began by teaching in two rural sites.  Read bio >

Region 6 (2021-2024)

John Werner

John Werner is the executive director of Sequoias Adult Education Consortium, which serves ten school districts and one community college and has a total adult education student population of just under 10,000 students in the southern region of California’s Central Valley. John is also the California Adult Education Administrators Association (CAEAA) state president and the California Council for Adult Education (CCAE) Central Section past president.  Read bio >

Committee and Taskforce Leadership

Nonvoting Members of the Board

NASDAE Liaison

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 >

Standing Committees

Awards/Scholarships/Incentive Grants Chair

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 >

Nominations & Elections Chair

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 >

Professional Development Chair

Dr. Olga M. Escamilla

Dr. 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 >

Public Policy Chair

Regina Suitt

Regina is a product of Adult Education and has dedicated over 30 years to a career in education. Like many in the field, she started as a part-time teacher working and living on the Tohono O’odham Nation teaching High School English. It was then that she began teaching night time GED classes part time in a village meeting house. She moved on to teach full time in the Pima County Jail for 8 years while also teaching as adjunct faculty at the State Prison. Her work has always been grounded by “a teacher’s heart”.  Read bio >

Membership Chair

Dr. Larriann Torrez

Dr. 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 graduated from Brandman University in May 2018. She received her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. Read bio >

Task Forces

Publications / Conference Chair

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 >

Students as Leaders Chair

Kristin Hempel

An educator for over 20 years, Kristin Hempel has been a passionate adult education administrator and advocate in CT for the past 7 years. Previously, she was an elementary principal in NY and a teacher and high school administrator in RI. Read Bio >

Worforce Development Chair

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 >

Prison Literacy Chair "Behind and Beyond the Walls"

Danielle Cox

Danielle has been an educator since 2001. She has a broad background as a teacher, reading specialist, a principal, a curriculum developer, academic coordinator for correctional education, and now as the director of correctional education for the State of Maryland prison system. Her career has been one of helping those most in need. Read bio >

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 >

Alumni Advisor to the COABE Board

Meghan McBride

Dr. Meghan McBride is a former adult learner who has worked in education since 2007. She currently serves as the vice president for adult education at Georgia Piedmont Technical College in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, where she has worked since 2018.  Read bio >

Historian

Dr. Renae Harrison

Dr. Renae Harrison was selected as historian for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) in 2020. She began her journey with COABE in the early 2000’s when she received a scholarship from the organization. Her experience on the COABE board includes a term as a regional representative, a member of various committees, president-elect, president, and past president. She served on the board from 2006-2015. Read bio >

Are you interested in serving on the COABE Board of Directors? Complete our short “Talent Bank” form. 

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