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Article: Thinking Big at the Region 14 Comprehensive Center Year 5 Advisory Board Meeting

During a uniquely pleasant autumn day in Houston, Texas, the Region 14 Comprehensive Center team convened alongside a distinguished group of educational leaders and scholars who serve as advisors to our mission of advancing sustainably improved educational outcomes in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.  

We gathered at the Judy Cook building, home to the Advancing Community Engagement and Service Institute (ACES) at the University of Houston. The ACES Institute strives to enhance real-world learning experiences for students while addressing the needs of communities. This setting provided an ideal backdrop for fostering meaningful conversations and harnessing the knowledge and insights of our collective efforts to drive positive change in education. 

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the University of Houston, particularly Dr. Anne McLellan, Co-Founder of the ACES Institute, and Dr. Catherine “Cathy” Horn, Dean of the College of Education, and their teams for their gracious hospitality as hosts of the event. 


Advisory board members

Region 14 Comprehensive Center Advisory Board Members. Top row, left to right: Dr. Rodney Watson, Region 4 Education Service Center; Kelvin Bradford, Richardson ISD; William Minton, Canopy Ed; Dr. Thomas Ricks, Louisiana State University. Middle row, left to right: James Caton, Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; Kevin Malonson, TeachPlus Texas; Mark Estrada, Lockhart ISD; Dr. Paula Calderon, Southeastern Louisiana University. Front row, left to right: Dr. Sarah Moore, Arkansas State Board of Education; Dr. Jennifer Chidsey, Texas Education Agency; Meredith McGovern, Louisiana Department of Education; Jamila Thomas, Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star; Dr. Missy Walley, Arkansas Department of Education.

Ensuring Alignment with National Educational Goals

Advisory board members participated in a gallery walk of six active projects showcasing a portion of the Region 14 Comprehensive Center’s year five portfolio of work. During this activity, board members conversed with project staff, asking probing questions and making connections to enhance project visibility and sustainability. We presented projects aligned with the U.S. Department of Education’s “Raise the Bar, Lead the World” initiative focus areas to help guide the conversation toward broad outcomes. Advisory board members also received a breakdown of how each active Region 14 Comprehensive Center project aligns with these focus areas to understand better the strategic relevance of the projects in the broader context of national educational priorities. 

Commitment to Sustainable Solutions 

Our team at the Region 14 Comprehensive Center, along with our Advisory Board, remain committed to engaging in productive discussions that will lead us toward sustainably improved educational outcomes across our region. We are planning to convene again in the spring to maintain forward momentum, developing innovative solutions to our persistent problems of practice through the collective impact of our diverse perspectives and expertise. We are grateful for the dedication of our team, partners, and esteemed advisory board members, who all share our vision of creating a brighter future through improved educational outcomes for all. 

Region 14 Comprehensive Center Team

The Region 14 Comprehensive Team. Top row, left to right: Erin Blass, Chelsea Sorensen, Boris Granovskiy, Darcy Pietryka, Dr. Lauren-Decker Woodrow. Middle row, left to right: Laura Jurgensen, Jocelyn Franke, Valerie Orellana, Hayley Trentacosta, Sally Hall. Front row, left to right: Anushka Shirali, Clarissa McKithen, Kristin Nafziger, Dr. Donna Elam, Sherelle Foust.

Advisory board meeting attendees collage

Advisory board members sitting at a table talking and smiling during a meeting

Advisory board meeting attendees collage

In person attendees meeting with virtual attendee

Advisory board meeting attendees

Clarissa McKithen

Advisory board meeting attendees

Anne Mclellan

Advisory board meeting attendees collage

Comprehensive Center Network Westat Leadership

Westat Comprehensive Center Network. Left to Right: Dr. Brad Keller, Region 5 Comprehensive Center Co-Deputy Director; Kristin Nafziger, Region 14 Comprehensive Center Director; Dr. Donna Elam, Senior Equity Advisor; Dr. Kimberly Hambrick, Region 5 Comprehensive Center Director; Dr. Lauren Decker-Woodrow, Region 14 Comprehensive Center Deputy Director.

All Advisory Board Meeting Photography Courtesy of Annie Mulligan 

Judy Cook Building, University of Houston