Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office confirmed the replacement of four Oklahoma State Board of Education members this morning, appointing Jennifer Monies, Brian Bobek, Estela Hernandez and Kurt Bollenbach one day after a board meeting.
Stitt re-appointed only William Flanagan, a certified public accountant and the mayor of Claremore. He previously chose Impact Tulsa executive director Carlisha Williams Bradley to fill the seat of Dan Keating, who died in November. He has now appointed all six of the non-elected seats, with Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister chairing the board.
“Each of our new board members is a qualified leader who is passionate about education in our state,” Stitt said in a statement. “They will bring strong representation from across Oklahoma in order to help invest in and guide the direction of our public school system. I look forward to working with the entire board as we move toward Top Ten status in education.”
Stitt’s four new appointments will replace Leo Baxter, Cathryn Franks, Bill Price and Bob Ross.
The board met Thursday in the Oliver Hodge Education Building and are scheduled to meet Thursday, May 23.
Hofmeister released a statement about the appointments Friday morning.
“General Lee Baxter, Cathy Franks, Bill Price and Bob Ross have served on the State Board with distinction, passion and genuine commitment to Oklahoma’s schoolchildren. I will miss working with each one, and I thank them for their service on the board,” Hofmeister said. “At the same time, I am excited by the appointments announced today by Governor Stitt. I already have had the honor of working with Estela Hernandez and Jennifer Monies; I know both to be tireless and exceptional advocates for strong public education. I look forward to getting to know Brian Bobek and Kurt Bollenbach. We all have hard work ahead of us, but there is reason for great optimism.”
Know your Bobek from your Bollenbach
The Stitt administration released brief biographies for all six of his appointees to the State Board of Education. Abbreviated and edited versions appear here:
Monies serves as the senior director of public affairs for Saxum. Previously, she worked as executive director of Oklahoma Achieves, an education initiative of the State Chamber of Oklahoma focused on matching workforce needs with education policies.
Monies worked as a political reporter at The Oklahoman and Congressional Quarterly, and she served in a press and policy advisory role for House Speaker Chris Benge and subsequently Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman. She lives in the urban core of Oklahoma City with her husband, Paul Monies of Oklahoma Watch, and two children. She has served on the community advisory board of her neighborhood elementary school and currently serves on the board of her son’s school, John Rex Charter Elementary.
Bobek currently helps manage the largest global account for BP Lubricants, where he has worked for nearly two decades. He has traveled the United States for a vast majority of his career, landing accounts in multiple regions. Bobek spearheads local outreach at Capitol Hill High School, providing snacks for teams before games, mentoring teenagers through hardships and hosting their annual All Sports Banquet. He created a free ACT prep night, open to any student in the area struggling with test anxiety and preparedness. He also partners with Tulsa Hope Academy, which provides a new opportunity to students who have been in the criminal justice system, homeless, addicted to drugs, abused or in need of assistance getting back on the right track. Bobek and his wife, Toni, reside in Oklahoma City, and together they have four children and one grandchild.
Hernandez has been in the construction and real estate business for 15 years as a small business owner and a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams. Hernandez is also known for her role in Oklahoma politics, serving as vice president of engagement for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and vice chairwoman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. In March, she was appointed to the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. Hernandez has been married for 17 years and is the mother of three children, who attend school at Putnam City School District, OKC Public School District, and Epic Charter Schools.
Bollenbach currently serves as an oil and gas operator for Teocalli Exploration, LLC, where he manages approximately 500 wells in northwest Oklahoma. Prior to working in the oil and gas industry, Bollenbach served as an attorney at a variety of legal offices, including Harrison & Mecklenburg, and the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Upon completion of Officer Basic Course in 2006, Bollenbach was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany where he acted as general counsel for commanders, provided legal assistance to service members, and acted as a military claims officer. Bollenbach resides in Kingfisher with his wife and two children who attend Kingfisher Public Schools.
William E. “Bill” Flanagan
Flanagan is the mayor of Claremore. A retired certified public accountant and personal financial specialist, he has owned and operated a public accounting firm, specializing in individual, small business and corporation taxes. He served many years on the Claremore Park Board and previously served on Claremore’s City Council. Flanagan served as president for the board of directors for Hope Harbor Children’s Home for more than 20 years. He has served as a board member for the Rogers State University Foundation. He and his wife, Mary Lou, have three children and four grandchildren.
Carlisha Williams Bradley
Bradley serves as the executive director for Impact Tulsa, and she is also founder and CEO of Women Empowering Nations. A leader in the Tulsa and Oklahoma education community, Bradley previously worked as the executive director for Tulsa Legacy Charter Schools. She also worked as the Schools Systems Leader Fellow & Senior Consultant at Tulsa Public Schools. She served as the regional vice president at Lighthouse Academics and worked as an eighth grade math teacher at KIPP Reach College Preparatory School.
(Update: This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 26, to include comment from Hofmeister.)