President & CEO
Judi Steele is President & CEO of The Public Education Foundation. She is one of the founders of the nonprofit organization and also has served local, national and international education and business communities as an educator, business owner, consultant and executive coach.
Judi, who has championed public education and the arts, is a respected thought leader guided by an entrepreneurial spirit and the courage to challenge conventional wisdom. She was active in the civil rights movement and is a champion of equal rights and human justice. Judi has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of teaching and learning for all public school children.
She was born and raised in New York City and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and elementary education from Hunter College. Judi began her distinguished education career as a fifth grade teacher at P.S. 171 in East Harlem.
Before beginning her career with the Clark County School District, she taught elementary and middle school in Providence, Rhode Island, where she began her graduate studies at Brown University. She completed her Master of Education degree in secondary and adult education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Her career with CCSD began as a classroom teacher at C.V.T. Gilbert Prestige School. She also served as Integration Consultant with the Intergroup Education Department under Dr. Claude Perkins and worked with Claude Parson. She was a Team Leader for Teacher Corps, Summer School Site Administrator, and was the first teacher of the Academically Talented Program and the first coordinator of Child Find.
As the Director of Special Education Programs and Services for the District, she developed and implemented procedures and staff development activities to ensure that all disabled students received a free, public and appropriate education. She was responsible for district-wide programs for the visually, orally and emotionally challenged, learning disabled and academically talented.
Judi designed CCSD’s first Individualized Education Program; established multi-disciplinary team processes; and supervised speech and language therapists, school nurses and teachers of the academically talented.
In 1987, she took a leave of absence to assist with some political campaigns and became President of Steele & Associates, a management consulting firm in which she also provided executive coaching. In 1991, she returned to CCSD and served in a dual role as Manager of the Office of Development and Education Improvement for CCSD and Executive Director of the newly incorporated Clark County Public Education Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization established to improve public education in Southern Nevada.
In 2001, she retired from the District and was named President of The Public Education Foundation. Since its inception, the Foundation, working collaboratively with CCSD, has been a leader in creating and sponsoring innovative, results-driven initiatives to improve student performance, demonstrate accountability and support educational excellence.
Judi has received numerous honors and awards for her lifelong service to children, education and the community. In 2006, the Clark County Board of School Trustees honored her, as she became the namesake of the Judith D. Steele Elementary School.
She also has been inducted into the CCSD Educational Excellence Hall of Fame. Judi has served on numerous boards of directors, advisory boards and was the Founder and President of the Arts Council of Henderson and “Nevada Shakespeare in the Park.”
In 2014 and 2015, she was included among “Las Vegas’ Top 100 Women of Influence” in MyVegas magazine and, in 2014, she received the 1st Distinguished Endeavor Award in Education presented by Distinguished Women in Nevada.
Judi has a daughter, Elyse, a son, Arthur, and two granddaughters, Taylor and Haley.
With vision, passion and boundless energy, Judi has lived by the Talmudic philosophy: “If not now, when? If not me, who?”
Chief Administrative Officer
Kirsten Searer advocates for equity and access for all children through public education. She recently joined the Public Education Foundation because she believes strongly in the need for our community to come together to push for improvements in public education, and to support every student.
She most recently served as the Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer at the Clark County School District, overseeing all eternal-facing departments, including media relations, government relations, family engagement, marketing and events, and school-community partnerships. Under her leadership, the Community Engagement Unit enacted a plan to deepen the district’s partnerships throughout the community, including increasing social media interactions, assisting every school to develop its own marketing plan, ensuring every school is adopted by at least one community partner, taking more family engagement programming “on the go” into the community, and recruiting 1,000 mentors in five years.
Kirsten has served as an executive and spokesperson for several political and non-profit organizations. She is a former newspaper journalist who specialized in political and education coverage.
Kirsten is the daughter of a lifelong teacher who served students in Arizona for more than 35 years.
After growing up in Arizona, Kirsten braved the Chicago weather and obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Journalism at Northwestern University.
Chief of Staff
Ashlee Redden, who joined The Public Education Foundation in 2011, is Chief of Staff. Previously, she was Executive Assistant to the President and, prior to that, was an office specialist and worked as a coordinator for the Foundation’s literacy program and the Foundation’s Leadership Institute of Nevada.
Before coming to the Foundation, Ashlee obtained several years of experience working for the Las Vegas-Clark Library District.
She earned her B.S. in Human Services from University of Phoenix, with a concentration in children and family services.
Ashlee, who was born and raised in Las Vegas, is a proud graduate of Advanced Technologies Academy in the Clark County School District.
Chief Financial Officer
Francisco Torres joined The Public Education Foundation in 2018 and its Chief Financial Officer.
For the past 13 years, Francisco has held a variety of Finance positions throughout Nevada and tribal gaming entities. These positions include Director of Planning and Analysis at Foxwoods Resort and Casino, and Director of Finance for Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Most recently at Foxwoods, Francisco was an integral piece of development team to ensure the sustainability and enterprise growth of the resort & casino, which is a major contributor to the finances of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. As Director of Finance at the Hard Rock his experience included the preparation and review of financial statements, SEC reporting, budget preparation, and gaming compliance.
He was born and raised in Las Vegas, is a proud graduate of Bonanza High School and earned his B.S. in Accounting from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
SVP of Transformational Leadership
Jeremy Hauser joined The Public Education Foundation in 2016 and is the nonprofit organization’s Vice President of Entrepreneurial & Empowered Leadership. Jeremy brings a wealth of experience to his work at the Foundation.
Prior to joining The Public Education Foundation, he worked for the Clark County School District for three decades in a variety of roles: in the classroom as a teacher, in school leadership as a principal and as a district-wide administrator.
His passion and deep understanding for the work related to school empowerment led to his appointment as Special Assistant to the Deputy Superintendent to implement school empowerment reform district wide through the “Empowerment Schools” program.
Jeremy began as a 4th grade elementary teacher in the Clark County School District in 1986, then moved on to become a special assignment teacher, assistant principal and eventually a principal at Matt Kelly Elementary School, Edythe & Lloyd Katz Elementary School and Linda Rankin Givens Elementary School.
He served as the academic manager over a variety of CCSD programs, such as School Improvement, Turnaround Schools, Professional Practice Schools, Dual Language Schools and Empowerment Schools. He also was associate superintendent over the Operational Service Division and was responsible for Maintenance, Operations, Food Service and Transportation.
SVP of Academic Initiatives
Kristine Minnich joined The Public Education Foundation in 2018 and currently serves as the Senior Vice President of the Educational Reform Programs and Initiatives Unit with the goal of fulfilling the belief of The Public Education Foundation: that every child deserves a quality education.
Kristine brings extensive experience to this position, as evidenced by over 25 years in public education. Beginning her career as a general education teacher, she expanded her role to include the instruction of students identified as gifted. After more than a decade of teaching, she accepted the challenge of balancing the ever present needs of students with the demands of a large urban school district when she accepted the position of Assistant Superintendent. Throughout her career, Kristine has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to support the local school community in providing ALL students optimum opportunities for learning and options for post-secondary education.
After earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida, Kristine obtained a Master of Education Degree in Instructional and Curricular Studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as well as a Master of Education Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Vice President of Technology & Design
Thomas Zimmerman, Vice President of Technology & Design, specializes in educational technology and user-interface design for the web and Internet applications. He also is The Public Education Foundation’s art director for various multimedia events, web and print projects.
Prior to joining the Foundation in 2007, Thomas served as a project manager for the Clark County School District, developing and managing projects for educational technology and distance education. Thomas also developed the information architecture and user-interface design for the school district’s website and Internet applications. Additionally, he taught visual art and design for 11 years in CCSD.
Thomas holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Illinois and a bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Illinois State University. He has taken master’s level classes in educational technology from Western Governors University.
Dr. Beverly Mathis
Vice President of Teacher Engagement & Early Learning
Dr. Beverly G. Mathis, who is Vice President of Early Learning, Literacy and Family Engagement, joined The Public Education Foundation in 2011.
In 1976, Beverly relocated to Las Vegas from Tennessee, where she was an elementary school teacher for two years. Upon her arrival to Nevada, she taught 17 years in the classroom, three years as assistant principal and, from 1995 to 2011, served as the principal at Kermit Roosevelt Booker Sr. Elementary School, a post she held for 16 years until her retirement.
Among many recognitions of her commitment to excellence, Beverly received The Public Education Foundation’s Lifetime Education Achievement Award in 2015, was selected in 2010 as School Administrator of the Year by the Nevada Association of School Boards, was a recipient of the 2000 Milken Family Foundation Education Award, and has been inducted into CCSD’s Excellence in Education Hall of Fame.
In 2015, Governor Brian Sandoval appointed Beverly to Nevada’s Spending and Government Efficiency Commission for K-12 public education.
Beverly obtained her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from the University of Tennessee, Martin, and she obtained her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.