Board of Education Members
Anne E. Bingham, Chair
Appointed to the Board 2014; reappointed 2017; reappointed 2021; appointed Board Chair 2017; reappointed Board Chair 2021; current term expires June 30, 2025Anne Bingham has more than 35 years of experience in banking and finance. She previously served on the board of Friends of Breakthrough Charter Schools. She currently serves on the board of The Transformation Alliance. 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 M. Heard, Sr., Vice Chair
Appointed to the Board 2004; reappointed 2005; reappointed 2009; reappointed 2013; reappointed 2017; reappointed 2021; appointed Board Vice Chair 2017; reappointed Board Vice Chair 2021; served as Board Chair 2007-09; current term expires June 30, 2025Robert Heard is retired from State Farm Insurance and the Cleveland Clinic. He previously taught English in CMSD’s Adult Education Program. He is a former member of the Neighborhood Connections grants committee, 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland. He has held the office of vice president and 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 as President of the Ohio School Boards Association. He lives in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood with his wife.
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, 2023Louise 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, J.D.
Appointed April 2019; reappointed October 2019; current term expires June 30, 2023Sara 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.
Denise W. Link
Appointed 2007; reappointed 2011; reappointed 2015; reappointed 2019; served as Board Chair 2009-17; current term expires June 30, 2023Denise 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.
Nigamanth Sridhar, Ph.D.
Appointed June 2021; current term expires on June 30, 2025Dr. Nigamanth Sridhar serves as a professor of Computer Science in the Washkewicz College of Engineering at Cleveland State University. Over the last 17 years, he has taught courses and conducted research in a variety of areas involving computer science and software engineering. From 2017 to 2020, he served as the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies at CSU. In that role, he oversaw more than 70 graduate programs across all eight academic colleges, serving more than 4,000 students. He grew up in India and earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from BITS Pilani in India. He moved to the United States in 1999 to attend graduate school at Ohio State University, where he earned a master of science degree and Ph.D. in Computer Science. He lives in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood with his wife and daughter, who is a CMSD student.
Lisa Thomas, Ph.D.
Appointed 2011; reappointed 2013; reappointed 2017; reappointed 2021, current term expires June 30, 2025Lisa Thomas, PhD retired from a career in the public sector, serving the communities of Cleveland, Lakewood, and North Olmsted over a two-decade career in local government. Dr. Thomas took her experience and obtained a Doctorate in Public Affairs and Urban Studies in 2008 from Cleveland State University, specializing in Public Administration. She also had extensive experience working in the not-for-profit sector, primarily serving the health care needs of people who are homeless. Dr. Thomas holds a BA from Coe College and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University. She has served on the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Board of Education for ten years, holds a trustee position with the Ohio School Boards Association, and has been appointed to the National Buy Board, a national purchasing cooperative of the National School Boards Association. She resides in the North Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland.
Kathleen C. Valdez, Esq.
Appointed 2019; current term expires 2023Kathleen 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, JD., MBA
ex officio memberPresident of Cleveland State University. He holds a J.D. from George Mason University.
Dr. Alex Johnson
ex officio memberPresident of Cuyahoga Community College. He holds a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University.Board of EducationAdministration Building1111 Superior Ave E, Suite 1800Cleveland, Ohio 44114Phone: (216) 838-0030 Fax: (216) 436-5078