Hal Heiner resigns from Bevin cabinet to accept seat on Ky. Board of Education

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Hal Heiner has resigned as Gov. Matt Bevin’s secretary of education and workforce development to accept Bevin’s appointment to the state board of education.

Heiner, an east Louisville businessman and former Metro Council member, agreed to join Bevin’s cabinet in late 2015 after losing to Bevin earlier that year in the Republican primary for governor.

A longtime supporter of charter schools, Heiner has said education is his “greatest civic passion.”

He has used the cabinet position, which has no direct authority over the Kentucky Department of Education and local school districts, as a platform for advocacy.

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Now Heiner will be among the 11 gubernatorial appointees overseeing K-12 policy and the state’s education commissioner, Stephen Pruitt.  

“Test scores and other academic achievement indicators must be improved across the state, and I look forward to working with the Board to provide all Kentucky students, regardless of wealth or zip code, with educational opportunities designed to meet their specialized learning needs and prepare them for success in college and careers,” Heiner said in a prepared statement.

In addition to Heiner, Bevin appointed the following people Monday to four-year terms on the board of education. Their biographies were provided by Bevin’s office:

  • Kathy Gornik, of Lexington, the retired co-founder and president of Thiel Audio, a high-performance audio equipment manufacturer which she helped launch in 1977. She has served as chairwoman of the Consumer Electronics Association and on the board of the National Science and Technology Education Partnership (NSTEP). Gornik holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Dayton and is presently a non-voting advisor to the Kentucky Board of Education and chairwoman of Newton’s Attic, a nonprofit education center focused on inspiring young people to pursue engineering, robotics and physics. She also serves on the Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board.
  • Tracey Cusick, of Union, is the mother of 10 children and presently serves as the parental advisor to the Kentucky Board of Education. She is engaged in many community and education organizations and has a diverse background in homeschooling, private schools and public schools. Cusick holds an associate’s degree in applied science from the State University of New York’s Health Science Center in Syracuse.
  • Joe Papalia, of Louisville, is an entrepreneur and the chief executive officer of Munich Welding and Deposition Technology Innovations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has served as their Regional Educational Coordinator. Papalia presently serves as a member of the Council on Postsecondary Education and as a non-voting advisor to the Kentucky Board of Education.
  • Laura Timberlake, of Ashland, is chief operating officer for Big Sandy Distribution/Big Sandy Superstores, a large furniture store chain with over 600 employees and 16 locations. She also serves as chairwoman of the Foundation for the Tri-State and on the boards of Ashland Alliance and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. Timberlake holds a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from Park University with minors in finance and accounting. Additionally, she is a former bank vice-president and trust officer and has been an active member of the Shawnee State University Workforce Advisory Panel.
  • Amanda Stamper, of Lexington, is Bevin’s former communications director and now public relations director for Anthem, Inc. She previously served as director of communications for Asbury Theological Seminary and as a communications specialist for Lexmark International. Stamper holds a bachelor’s degree in strategic communications from the University of Kentucky and is a former PTA president in the Fayette County Public Schools.
  • Ben Cundiff, of Cadiz, was first appointed by Gov. Bevin in May 2016 to fill an unexpired term. He has been the owner/operator of Cundiff Farms since 1967, was a practicing attorney from 1973-1991, and served as chairman and CEO of Trigg County Farmers Bank from 1991-2000. Cundiff is a graduate of the Kentucky Military Institute and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt University as well as a juris doctorate from Vanderbilt Law School. Among his extensive community service, he has served on the boards for The Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University, the Gatton Academy of Math and Science, the Pritchard Committee for Academic Excellence, the University Heights Academy, and the Governor’s Scholars Foundation.

They join Bevin’s previously appointed board of education members: Rich Gimmel, of Louisville, chairman of Atlas Machine and Supply, Inc.;  Gary Houchens, of Bowling Green, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research at Western Kentucky University; Alesa G. Johnson, of Somerset, the chief workforce solutions officer for Somerset Community College and a former engineering and operations superintendent for ExxonMobil; and Milton C. Seymore, of Louisville, pastor of Energized Baptist Church since 1993.

The new board has called a special meeting for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. One of the agenda items is a closed-door discussion on personnel.