ABOUT US

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.

Stand For Schools exists 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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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. Prior to founding Stand For Schools, she spent 5 years in Washington, DC working at the U.S. Senate, the White House, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Ann is passionate about preserving and strengthening Nebraska’s public schools so that future generations of Nebraskans can enjoy the opportunities she received.

ANN HUNTER-PIRTLE

Founder + Executive Director

ANN HUNTER-PIRTLE

Founder + Executive Director

OUR
STAFF

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Daniel joins Stand For Schools 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.

DANIEL RUSSELL

Deputy Executive Director

DANIEL RUSSELL

Deputy Executive Director

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Melina joined Stand For Schools in 2017 with a wealth of experience in nonprofit administrative support and grassroots organizing. She grew up in rural western Iowa and went on to study at the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she earned a Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration. Melina is proud to support Nebraska’s public schools and is a staunch advocate for equity in education.

MELINA COHEN

Director of Communications

MELINA COHEN

Director of Communications

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After spending years in the classroom as a teacher, Dr. Webb served as a school administrator and now works as a Mentoring Specialist to Omaha Public Schools. She has a long history of collaborating with the community and is particularly passionate about using research-based strategies and smart public policy to address the opportunity gap in high-poverty schools and neighborhoods. 

ANN HUNTER-PIRTLE

Founder + Executive Director

DR. DANITA WEBB

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Dr. Pearson - aka Mama Beast - is a mother, activist, author, educator, speaker, poet, comedienne, 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 20 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 spouse, two teenagers, and two guinea pigs.

FERIAL PEARSON

FERIAL PEARSON

OUR
BOARD OF
DIRECTORS

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Promoting education for all children has always been Connie Duncan’s passion. Connie was a special education teacher for Lincoln Public Schools for 17 years, followed by four years as a Retention Specialist for a low-income, first-generation scholarship called Learn to Dream at Southeast Community College.

Connie is Vice President of Philanthropy for Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and is also very active in her community. She is an elected official on the Lincoln Public Schools Board of Education and serves on several community boards, such as Humanities Nebraska and United Way of Lincoln. Connie serves as director of her family's foundation, Duncan Family Trust.

Connie was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, and met her husband Todd while in high school. She has a music performance degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and graduate work and a teaching certificate from UNL. Connie and Todd have twin boys that are now married. PK and Katie Duncan live in Lincoln and both work for Duncan Aviation. Harrison and Brooke Duncan live in Atlanta, Georgia where Harrison is working on his MBA at Georgia Tech.

CONNIE DUNCAN

CONNIE DUNCAN

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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.

CONNIE DUNCAN

JERRY BEXTEN

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TAMMY DAY

Tammy is a business owner and an active community philanthropist and change-maker. Her work focuses on innovative approaches to positive community change, such as Daycos4good, the Youth Philanthropy Contest, and the Philanthropy Council of Northeast Nebraska. Tammy is a mentor, speaker, and trainer who helps people, businesses, nonprofits, and communities learn new ways to give back and make a difference. In addition to Stand for Schools, Tammy currently serves on the Norfolk Public Schools Board of Education and on The Connie Fund.

Tammy and her husband Brandon, own and operate Daycos, Inc., one of only four Benefit Corporations in Nebraska. Tammy holds bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and German from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  In addition, she spent a year studying at Katölische Universität in Eichstätt, Germany. 

 

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