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Stand For Schools is advancing

public education in Nebraska.


Public education reflects Nebraska’s values. Public schools are open to all, they are free and fair, and they provide fiscally conservative oversight of taxpayer dollars through elected school boards.

Nebraska has developed public schools that work. Our state boasts the second-highest high school graduation rate in the country, one of the nation’s top ACT scores, and the seventh-highest college-going rate in the nation. The vast majority of Nebraskans, nearly 80 percent, support public education, according to recent Gallup polls. We know public education works, and we need to pursue further improvements to meet our state’s changing needs.

Ann Hunter-Pirtle founded Stand For Schools in 2016 to support our public schools’ history of success and to find innovative ways to make them even stronger — through opportunities like early childhood education, school to career pathways, and before- and after-school and summer programming. We believe our state does best when we come up with Nebraska solutions to Nebraska challenges. Education is no exception.

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Dunixi is the proud son of immigrants and the product of quality public education. At an early age, he learned not all public schools are created equal and that, sometimes, a few miles or blocks can make a big difference.


While studying Political Science at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln and the University of Nebraska- Kearney, Dunixi worked with a variety of causes and organizations striving to build a stronger, more equitable society. This led to a career in activism that allowed him to travel all over the state, visiting communities and meeting Nebraskans with a deep and enduring pride in their local public school.s.


Dunixi believes public education is the silver bullet to many of society’s problems, and he's committed to fight every day until every child - no matter their zip code - is given the tools necessary to reach their full potential.


Executive Director


Daniel started with Stand For Schools in 2020 with experience in nonprofit operations and oversight. He is a proud product of Nebraska public schools, graduating first from Lincoln Public Schools and then from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska College of Law.


Before Stand For Schools, Daniel worked for 5 years at the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office in nonprofit regulation and oversight. He then spent a year at iMentor, a nonprofit organization in New York City that focuses on fostering mentoring relationships for low-income, first-generation high school students to support graduation and success in college.


Deputy Director

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Tania, a first-generation Latina woman, brings a wealth of experience from advocating for immigrants and refugees to working with at-risk populations and diverse communities.


Fluent in both English and Spanish, Tania has excelled in roles at the Immigrant Legal Center and the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights. As a communications and outreach specialist, she is committed to providing excellent communication and building meaningful partnerships throughout Nebraska.


Tania's dedication extends into the creative with a passion for content creation that allows her to amplify voices, tell compelling stories, and engage with diverse audiences. 


Communications & Outreach Specialist


As a Communications and Outreach Specialist at Stand For Schools, Brooke aims to leverage her unique background, combining early childhood education with her commitment to advocacy and community engagement.


Hailing from rural Nebraska, Brooke possesses an awareness of how geographical nuances can significantly shape the educational landscape. A devoted champion of public education, Brooke draws inspiration from her journey as a proud beneficiary of quality Nebraska public education. During her time at the University of Nebraska, she acquired the skills to communicate effectively and cultivated critical thinking and adaptability—integral traits for navigating the multifaceted aspects of advocacy work.


With a belief that quality public education is a powerful solution to societal challenges, Brooke promises to safeguard the educational rights of all children. 


Communications & Outreach Specialist


Dr Ferial Pearson

Dr. Pearson - aka Mama Beast - is a mother, activist, author, educator, speaker, poet, comedian, cook, sourdough artist, and citizen of the world. She founded the Secret Kindness Agents Project and is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has been teaching humans of all ages for 22 years in the Omaha area. As a Kenyan Indian Muslim immigrant queer disabled woman of color, she is passionate about working towards Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Kindness. She has received national and local awards for her work in education and social justice, has authored two books, and has been featured as a speaker on the TEDx Omaha stage. Her Secret Kindness Agents Project has been featured at Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, Hallmark, Parents Magazine, Learning for Justice website and magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, and more. Her goal is to make sure you know that you are loved and that you are enough just the way you are. She lives in Omaha with her family.


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Gabriel lives and works in Omaha, NE, where he works at the University of Nebraska-Omaha as an instructor in the College of Education. 


Jerry Bexten is retired.  He worked for The Sherwood Foundation from 2006 until 2021 as the Director of Education Initiatives.  Prior to joining The Sherwood Foundation, he worked for the Omaha Public Schools for thirty-three years.  He taught middle school history and language arts for twelve years and was an assistant principal for ten years. He then served as principal at Lewis and Clark Middle School and at Central High School.  Jerry earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Creighton University and master’s degrees in history and educational administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  He and his wife Karen are the proud parents of two daughters, Lauren and Claire.  He believes strongly in the value of public education.


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Drew Blessing lives and works in Kearney, NE, where he serves as the President of the Kearney School Board. 




Ann is a Lincoln, Nebraska, native and a proud graduate of Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, from which she holds a BA in Political Science and French and an MS in Agricultural Economics. She spent five years in Washington, D.C., working at the U.S. Senate, the White House, and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

In 2016, Ann founded Stand For Schools in order to preserve and strengthen Nebraska’s public schools so that future generations of Nebraskans can enjoy the opportunities she received.  

After serving as the Executive Director of Stand For Schools for six years, Ann returned to D.C., where she works with the U.S. Department of Energy. 



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