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.
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.
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.
Melina joined Stand For Schools in 2017 with a wealth of experience in nonprofit administrative support and grassroots organizing. Since then, she has earned a Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and developed a deep understanding of education policy.
From the Community Schools Model in Grand Island to teacher training programs in Finland and the origins of school vouchers in the Jim Crow South... Melina is interested in what works and what doesn't when it comes to promoting equity and excellence in our schools and communities.
A firm believer in the common good and in the power of people and policy to do good, Melina is a proud and passionate advocate for evidence-based, constituent-led policy solutions and an outspoken opponent of corruption in government and the privatization agenda.
Director of Communications & Outreach
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.
DR. AMY MART
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.
DR. FERIAL PEARSON
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.
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.