• Board of Education Members

    Board Members
    Anne Bingham

    Anne E. Bingham, Chair

    Appointed to the Board 2014; reappointed 2017; appointed Board Chair 2017; current term expires June 30, 2021

    Anne Bingham works as a vice president in private banking for First Federal of Lakewood. She has more than 25 years of experience in banking and finance. She previously served on the board of Friends of Breakthrough Charter Schools. She holds a BA in French from DePauw University, and an MBA in finance from Indiana University. She lives in the West Park neighborhood of Cleveland.

    Robert Heard

    Robert M. Heard, Sr., Vice Chair

    Appointed to the Board 2004; reappointed 2005; reappointed 2009; reappointed 2013; reappointed 2017; appointed Board Vice Chair 2017; served as Board Chair 2007-09; current term expires June 30, 2021

    Robert Heard is retired from State Farm Insurance and the Cleveland Clinic. Heard previously taught English in CMSD’s Adult Education Program. He is a member of the Neighborhood Connections grants committee, a member of 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland and vice president of the Cleveland Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. A John Adams High School alumnus, Heard holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Cleveland State University. He earned the title of fellow from Broad Institute and completed the Executive Leadership Program for Educators at Harvard University. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Ohio School Boards Association. He lives in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood with his wife and two daughters.

    Louise Dempsey

    Louise P. Dempsey, Esq.

    Appointed 1998; reappointed 2003; reappointed 2007; reappointed 2011; reappointed 2015; reappointed 2019; served as Board Vice Chair 2009-17; current term expires June 30, 2023

    Louise Dempsey is the Senior Fellow for Education Policy and a retired assistant dean of Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. An attorney, Dempsey serves on the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation, and is a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Public Education. She is also an emerita trustee of Laurel School, her alma mater. She earned a bachelor’s degree from McGill University and her juris doctorate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Dempsey also holds a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Bioethics from CSU. She lives in Bratenahl and is the proud mother of a Collinwood High School graduate.

    Sara Elaqad

    Sara Elaqad, J.D.

    Appointed April 2019; reappointed October 2019; current term expires June 30, 2023

    Sara Elaqad is Executive Director of Minds Matter Cleveland, a nonprofit working to close the higher education opportunity gap faced by low-income high school students through mentoring, test prep, and summer college programs. Ms. Elaqad has served on the board of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Circle, and founded the Associate Board of the Refugee Response. She is a recipient of the YWCA Greater Cleveland Distinguished Young Woman Award, which recognizes those making a difference in Northeast Ohio through career accomplishments, community involvement, and commitment to YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, and was named to the 2019 Crain’s Cleveland Business 40 Under 40 Class. Ms. Elaqad is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law and received bachelor’s degrees in International Relations and French from The Ohio State University. She lives in the Gordon Square neighborhood of Cleveland.

    Jasmine Fryer

    Jasmine Fryer

    Appointed 2017; reappointed 2019; current term expires June 30, 2023

    Jasmine Fryer is the Chief Strategy Officer at BES (Building Excellent Schools) where she helps drive the organization’s growth, contributes to its strategic planning process, and builds partnerships with a focus on positioning BES for impact. Prior to joining BES, Ms. Fryer worked at Chiefs for Change as the Director of Membership and Future Chiefs. There, she led the organization’s efforts to increase the number of state and district education leaders in its network and oversaw its aspiring system-level leader program. Previously, Ms. Fryer was an Education Specialist at the New York State Department of Education in the Office of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness. In addition, she served as a Policy Analyst at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. She was a Fulbright Scholar and has worked, lived, and volunteered in Thailand, China, Morocco, Jordan, and Israel. Ms. Fryer began her career as a middle school teacher and Teach For America Corps Member in New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Urban Practice and Policy from the University of Richmond, a Master of Arts in Secondary Social Studies Education from Lehman College, and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Ms. Fryer lives in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood of Cleveland.

    Denise Link

    Denise W. Link

    Appointed 2007; reappointed 2011; reappointed 2015; reappointed 2019; served as Board Chair 2009-17; current term expires June 30, 2023

    Denise Link has worked at PNC Bank for over 30 years and serves as vice president in Network Planning. Link holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. Before joining the Board of Education, she served on the District’s Bond Accountability Commission. In addition to her service as a CMSD board member, she volunteers at District preschools as part of PNC’s Grow Up Great program, designed to help prepare underserved young children for success in school and life. She also serves as a mentor with True2U and College Now. Because of Link’s commitment to urban education, she won the 2013 Richard R. Greene Award. Each year at its fall conference, the Council of the Great City Schools bestows the Green Award upon a superintendent or board of education member in recognition of exceptional contributions to urban schools and students. Link lives in Ohio City with her husband and family.

    Willetta Milam

    Willetta A. Milam, J.D.

    Appointed 2003; reappointed 2005; reappointed 2009; reappointed 2013; reappointed 2017; current term expires June 30, 2021

    Willetta Milam is the president and founder of Help Resources, a community-based organization that assists in educating people about their legal rights. A graduate of John Hay High School, she holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, Bradford Campus and a juris doctorate from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. She lives in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood of Cleveland and is the proud mother of a CMSD student.

    Lisa Thomas

    Lisa Thomas, Ph.D.

    Appointed 2011; reappointed 2013; reappointed 2017; current term expires June 30, 2021

    Lisa Thomas is the Director of the Center For Experiential Learning at Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Dr. Thomas teaches courses in public administration and non-profit management. Thomas has served on the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County and has significant senior-level management experience with municipal government, including the cities of Cleveland, Lakewood and North Olmsted. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, an M.B.A. from Baldwin-Wallace College and a Ph.D. in urban policy and public affairs from Cleveland State University. She lives in the Euclid Park neighborhood of Cleveland.

    Kathleen Valdez

    Kathleen C. Valdez, Esq.

    Appointed 2019; current term expires 2023

    Kathleen Valdez is Managing Partner of K Legal LLC, a law firm she recently started. At K Legal, Valdez advocates for the needs of the parents and students with regards to school law and special education services. Valdez also helps the legal needs of small businesses in the community. A James F. Rhodes High School alumna, Valdez holds a bachelors degree in Spanish, Political Science and International Studies from Case Western Reserve University. Valdez obtained a post-baccalaureate teacher certification from the University of North Georgia. Valdez is a graduate of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Valdez began her career as a middle school Spanish teacher and Teach for America corps member in Atlanta, Georgia. She has continued her work in education through her role in the Esperanza Alumni Association, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s 3R’s program, and Legal Aid pro bono work. Ms. Valdez lives in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood with her husband and daughter who is a CMSD student.

    In addition to the nine Board of Education members appointed by the Mayor, Ohio House Bill 269 provides that the presidents of Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University serve as nonvoting ex officio members of the Board.

    Harlan M. Sands

    Harlan M. Sands, JD., MBA

    ex officio member

    President of Cleveland State University. He holds a J.D. from George Mason University.

    Dr. Alex Johnson

    Dr. Alex Johnson

    ex officio member

    President of Cuyahoga Community College. He holds a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University.
    Board of Education 
    Administration Building 
    1111 Superior Ave E, Suite 1800
    Cleveland, Ohio 44114 
    Phone: (216) 838-0030 Fax: (216) 436-5078