AMLE Board of Trustees

Stephanie Patton, School Leadership Coach, OH
Stephanie currently serves as a school leadership coach for Columbus City Schools. She provides coaching to 5 middle school principals and 4 middle school assistant principals and leadership interns. Stephanie was previously the principal of an all-girls middle school focusing on equity, girl empowerment, and high academic standards.
Contact Stephanie
Chandra Diaz, Director of Middle Level Ed, NE
Vice Chair
Chandra is the Director of Middle Level Ed at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She was a middle school educator for 12 years and was awarded Outstanding Math Teacher of the Year. She also belongs to NMLA and advises her local CMLA chapter.
Contact Chandra
Rachel Graham, Director of Programs, IL
Executive Council
Rachel is the director of programs at the Lefkofsky Family Foundation. In her role she oversees all of the Foundation’s education grantmaking focused on supporting middle level education.
Contact Rachel
Maya Kratzke, English Teacher, MD
Executive Council
Maya currently holds several roles at The Siena School in Silver Spring, Maryland, including Middle School English Teacher, Middle School Advisor, and High School Dean of Students.
Contact Maya
Andrew Maxey, Director of Strategic Initiatives, AL
Executive Council
Andrew currently serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at Tuscaloosa City Schools in Alabama. He was a founding board member of the Alabama Association for Middle Level Education. He also serves on state-wide planning and advisory boards that provide professional supports for middle level educators.
Contact Andrew
Sandy Cameli, Education Specialist, HI
Sandy is an Education Specialist for the Hawai’i State Department of Education. Sandy’s passion for middle level education spans three decades, beginning as a teacher and now serving at the state-level in a role that allows her to elevate teacher leadership.
Contact Sandy
Katie Johnson, Principal, VA
Katie is the principal of Belmont Ridge Middle School in Leesburg, Virginia where, under her leadership, the school has been recognized as an inaugural AMLE School of Distinction, a Purple Star School, and redesignated for a fourth time as a National School to Watch.
Contact Katie
Walter Lee, Assistant Professor, SC
After teaching in Title I schools for more than five years, Walter now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate where he is also the coordinator of the University’s Call Me MiSTER program.
Contact Walter
Sabine Phillips, Principal, FL
Sabine has been an educator for 30 years, with 23 of those years in middle schools. She is the principal of Margate Magnet Middle School in Florida where she also serves on the district’s middle school executive board. Sabine enjoys facilitating professional development for her fellow educators, both within her district and at AMLE’s Institute for Middle Level Leadership and Annual Conference.
Contact Sabine
Cyndi Plemons, Teacher, GA
Cyndi recently graduated from Georgia College and State University and began her first year of teaching at Putnam County Middle School. While at Georgia College, she was an integral part of their CMLA chapter where she hosted the annual Summit Conference. Cyndi was also selected as an inaugural AMLE Student Ambassador for the AMLE22 Annual Conference where she also presented.
Contact Cyndi
Karen Weller Swanson, Teacher, CO
Karen currently serves as a middle school science teacher at Timberview Middle School in Colorado Springs. She has been a middle-grades advocate for 25 years and served in multiple capacities for AMLE, including on the Research Advisory Committee and as editor of Research in Middle Level Online journal.
Contact Karen
Toni Williams, Professor, SC
Toni has more than 20 years of experience in middle level education and currently teaches and supervises middle level preservice teachers at the University of South Carolina. There, she also serves as the middle level program coordinator and the CMLA Chapter Advisor. Toni is the editor of Middle Grades Research Journal and president of the South Carolina Professors of Middle Level Education.
Contact Toni

2025 AMLE Board of Trustees Nominations

Nominations for the 2025 Board of Trustees are now closed. Nominations for 2026 will open in spring, 2025. To learn more about serving on the board of Trustees, explore Trustee qualifications and expectations or contact Chandra Diaz, Chair of the AMLE Elections Committee, at Have questions about the nomination process? Contact

AMLE Staff

Stephanie Simpson
Chief Executive Officer

Derek Neal
Chief Operating Officer

Katie Powell
Director for Middle Level Programs

Megan Mooney
Accounting Manager

Marcia Meade-Hurst
Senior Member Center Specialist

Helen Polansky
Partnerships Manager

Kristie Smith
CMLA East Chapter At-Large Advisor

Sarah Pennington
CMLA West Chapter At-Large Advisor

Dr. Lisa Harrison
Middle School Journal Co-Editor

Dr. Kathleen Brinegar
Middle School Journal Co-Editor

Dr. Ellis Hurd
Middle School Journal Co-Editor and CAEP Coordinator

Dr. David Virtue
Research in Middle Level Education Online Journal Editor

Past Presidents/Chairs

AMLE is grateful to the dedicated educators who have served as President/Chair and who have contributed to our rich history

2022-2023 Lisa Harrison
2020-2021 James Barnes
2019 Christine Thielen
2018 Nancy Ruppert
2017 Pam Millikan
2016 Kathleen McCaffery
2015 Ashley Smith,
2014 Mike Muir
2013 Jeff LaRoux
2012 Nancy Poliseno
2011 Joan Jarrett
2010 Cathie Thibodeau
2009 Janet Vernon,
2008 Theresa Hinckle
2007 Mike Dietz
2006 Patti Kinney
2005 Kathy McAvoy
2004 Marc Ecker
2003 Linda Robinson
2002 Deborah Kasak
2001-2002   Santo Pino
2000-20001 Fran Salyers
1999-2000 Marion Payne
1998-1999 Walt Grebing
1997-1998 Pete Lorain

1996-1997 Ross Burkhart
1995-1996 Jerry Adrian
1994-1995 Charlene Pike
1993-1994 Betty Edwards
1992-1993 Sue Swaim
1991-1992 Jeanette Phillips
1990-1991 Julia Thomason
1989-1990 James Garvin
1988-1989 Conrad Toepfer
1987-1988 Robert Shockley
1986-1987 Gerald Bourgeois
1985-1986 Ann Moniot
1984-1985 Ronald Johnson
1983-1984 Kenneth McEwin
1982-1983 Mary Compton
1981- 1982 Sherri Scott
1980-1981 John Swaim
1979-1980 Louis Romano
1978-1979  James Fox
1977-1978  Robert Malinka
1976-1977 Thomas Gatewood
1975-1976 Keith Brown
1974-1975 Glenn Maynard
1973-1974 Hal Gladdis
1972-1973 Gordon Vars