2023 NAESPA Leadership

ESEA Timeline

PRESIDENT - Tara Rodriguez (KY)

Tara Rodriguez taught high school chemistry and Spanish for 17 years. She came to the Kentucky Department of Education in 2011 as the teacher liaison for the Kentucky Virtual High School and has since acted as a manager working with school improvement and a manager of Title I, Part A, and other federal programs. She currently serves as a director over Title I parts A, C, and D, McKinney-Vento, Rural Low-Income Schools, and 21st Century programs. Since joining the Association, she has served as Region 3 Alternate and is a member of the technology subcommittee. Tara earned master’s degrees in science education, Spanish, and instructional leadership. She received her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in 2016 from Eastern Kentucky University.

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Dr. Ken Banter – Ken is the Senior Title I Program Manager with the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and has served with GaDOE since 2015.  Before, moving into this position, he served as a Title I Area Specialist for GaDOE and worked with 14 school districts implementing their Title I initiatives.  Prior to joining GaDOE, Ken was an educator for 31 years in the Peach County School system in Middle Georgia where he held numerous positions (Teacher, Assistant Principal, Dean of Students, Principal, and Federal Programs Director).  He also served as the Finance Manager for Cardinal Manufacturing Inc. which was a subsidiary of the Blue Bird Body Company.

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VICE PRESIDENT - Beth Wooster (NE)

Beth Wooster has 30 years of experience in Education and is the ESEA Federal Program Administrator for the State of Nebraska.  She is over all of the ESEA Title Programs as well as the ESSER Grants for the state and feels fortunate to work with an amazing team that has stepped in to help absorb the extra load brought on by the Emergency Relief Grants. 

Beth has been an active member of the Association for the past 10 years, currently serving on the Board as the Alternate for Region 4.  Other roles she has served for the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA) are; Secretary for two years and the Co-Chair of the Early Childhood Committee.  She has also been a member of the National Conference Planning Committee all 10 years, the Communications Committee, the Membership Committee the Ad HOC Revenue Committee and has been Nebraska’s Distinguished Schools State Coordinator since 2012. 

The positive relationships and rapport built with other members of the Association & NAESPA staff are extremely important to Beth.  She takes her responsibilities seriously and makes the Association and its members a priority.

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SECRETARY - Shelly Babler (WI)

Shelly Babler is an assistant director for the Title I and School Support Team at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WDPI) and has been at the WDPI since 2008. In her role, she provides leadership and management for the ESEA consolidated application and monitoring process as well as oversite for the administration of the federal stimulus funds for COVID-19 relief. Shelly is heavily involved with the management and software design of WISEgrants, Wisconsin’s in-house grants management system and she has extensive experience with developing internal procedures, providing technical assistance regarding federal rules and regulations, analyzing and reporting data, and monitoring progress of federal grant recipients. Shelly is currently the Region 3 Representative for the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators Board of Directors and will be joining the Board of Directors for the Association of Educational Federal Finance Administrators in September of 2022.

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TREASURER - Jewell Stanley (SC)

Jewell Stanley is the Assistant Director for the Office of Federal and State Accountability at the South Carolina Department of Education.  As the Assistant Director, she is responsible for the oversight of all federal education grants under ESSA ensuring fiscal and programmatic compliance. Prior to becoming the Assistant Director, her roles included serving as the Title I, Title II, and Title IV State Coordinator. Throughout her 28 years in education, she has worked with and advocated for Title I students. She was a teacher and principal of a Title I school for 16 years before beginning her work with the South Carolina Department of Education.

As a part of NAESPA, she has served in various capacities including the Conference Planning Committee and the Government Relations Committee. Her experience at the school level, state level, and her work thus far with NAESPA is beneficial in helping the organization grow and provides support to all federal program coordinators. She has been instrumental in managing administrative budgets and reviewing district allocations and budgets for her state. As the NAESPA Treasurer, she is dedicated to ensuring accuracy, transparency, and upholding all the duties and responsibilities. In addition to her work at the South Carolina Department of Education, she has served as treasurer of her church and local sorority chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. With her husband, Derrick, she has two children – a son who is a rising sophomore at South Carolina State University and a daughter who is a rising 9th grader in Kershaw County Public Schools. 

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Dean Zajic is the State and Federal Program Coordinator for the Special Education and Title Services team of the Kansas State Department of Education, where he oversees the agency’s ESEA and IDEA fiscal coordination and monitoring, supports results driven accountability through the implementation of the Kansas Integrated Accountability System, and provides training and technical assistance to Kansas school districts on IDEA and ESEA requirements, MTSS implementation, blending and braiding of programs, disproportionality analysis, and best practices to achieve results for all students.  


Dean serves on the Kansas Council for Developmental Disabilities, and is a recipient of the Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators Kids First Award.  He supports local, early education by serving on the board of directors for Topeka TDC Early Learning Centers, a non-profit early-learning organization  dedicated to serving children from all backgrounds, aged birth through five years old.


He volunteers nationally as a member of the Association of Educational Federal Finance Administrators (AEFFA), where he is overseeing the planning of the 2019 AEFFA National Conference in Kansas City, and he serves on the expert review panel for OSEP’s Center for IDEA Fiscal Reporting, and 


Dean has been a member NAESPA for 6 years and has served as a co-chair for the Effective Programs Committee, is the currently chair of the Internal Communications Committee and is the alternate representative for Region 4.  

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