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Presiding the 2019 Conference in Lake Washington, WA

Lisa Driscoll is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Tennessee. Over three decades she has held faculty and administrative positions in pk-12 and higher education in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. She teaches graduate courses in educational law and finance, public education history, and human resources practice. Her research focuses on legal, financial and policy implications in providing equitable and adequate, free, universal systems of public education. In collaboration with others, she has prepared expert studies in public education finance for plaintiffs in Alaska and Missouri equity and adequacy litigation. She serves as an editorial board member for the Journal of Education Finance. In 2011, she was named a Distinguished Research and Practice Fellow in Education Finance by the National Education Finance Conference. Dr. Driscoll earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in Education from Virginia Tech and a B.S. from Berry College (Georgia).


Presiding the 2020 Conference

Nicola A. Alexander is Associate Professor in the Education Policy and Leadership program in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota. She is particularly interested in notions of fairness, including issues of adequacy, equity, and productivity as they relate to PK-12 education. She has extensive research and teaching experience in policy analysis and in the economics and fiscal aspects of elementary and secondary education, including courses in education policy analysis, politics of education, comparative budgeting and strategic financial management. Dr. Alexander has published in books, monographs, and journals, including American Educational Research Journal, Educational Policy, Journal of School Business Management, and Journal of Education Finance. She is author of Policy Analysis for Educational Leaders: A Step by Step Approach with Pearson Publishers. She earned a PhD in Public Administration with a focus on public finance from the University at Albany.


Presiding the 2021 Conference

Rob Knoeppel serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development at Clemson University.  His research interests include the intersection of school finance and education accountability policy.  Dr. Knoeppel has authored over 100 refereed journal publications, book chapters, technical reports and conference papers in the field of education finance, education reform, and educational leadership.  His work has been regularly published in the Journal of Education Finance and Educational Considerations, two of the top-tiered journals in the field of education finance.  Dr. Knoeppel serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Education Finance Academy where he was awarded the Scholarly Paper of the Year Award for the three consecutive years.  Previously, he was elected chair of the Fiscal Issues, Policy and Education Finance Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association.  Dr. Knoeppel has previously held an academic appointment at the University of Kentucky and worked for several years in the public schools of Virginia as a school counselor, building level administrator, and coach.  In May 2018, he will begin an appointment as Dean of the College of Education at the University of South Florida.


Anthony Rolle, Professor and Dean of Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies, conducts research that explores relative measures of economic efficiency for public schools, and measures of vertical equity. He recognizes that demographic differences among communities affect organizational processes, and, does not assume that all public schools have the same expenditure priorities. His work is published in the Journal of Education Finance, Peabody Journal of Education, School Business Affairs, Educational Considerations, School Administrator, and Developments in School Finance. He has conducted policy research in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. He was a Board member for AEFA, and the 2002 AEFA Jean Flanigan Dissertation Award winner. Dr. Rolle received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Santa Clara University; a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. from Indiana University.


Lisa Dawn-Fisher is currently the Chief School Finance Officer at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) where her responsibilities include overseeing the administration of the state’s Foundation School Program, collecting and reporting of financial data, developing financial accounting and accountability standards, and monitoring fiscal compliance. She serves as the state’s expert witness in the legislature and school finance-related litigation. Dr. Dawn- Fisher has worked for 20 years in the field of school finance, serving as a legislative staffer, a researcher, and a consultant in addition to her current responsibilities. Dr. Dawn-Fisher holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs and a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.
Scott Sweetland is Chair of the Educational Administration Program at Ohio State University. He served as Chair of The Ohio State University Senate Fiscal Committee, Transition Director of the School of Educational Policy and Leadership, and Section Head of Educational Administration and Higher Education. He has delivered presentations on school finance and authored or co-authored more than 30 books, chapters, and journal articles about school finance. His school finance work has appeared in such venues as the Journal of Education Finance, Journal of School Business Management, School Business Affairs, Education Policy Analysis Archives, Planning and Changing, Education Leadership Review, The American Association of School Administrators Professor, University Council for Educational Administration Review, Review of Educational Research, and the Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration. Scott began his professional career in the banking and insurance industries where he held positions in branch office management, corporate headquarters administration, and marketing and sales.
William E. Thro, the General Counsel of the University of Kentucky and a former Solicitor General of Virginia, has written extensively on constitutional issues in educational contexts with a particular emphasis on school finance litigation. In recognition of his scholarly work, he received Stetson University’s Kaplin Award for Excellence in Higher Education Law & Policy Scholarship, the National Education Finance Conference’s Distinguished Research Fellow Award, and the National Association of College and University Attorneys’ Fellow Award. He has a distinguished record of service to academic, professional, and civic organizations including President of the Education Law Association, Chair of the Virginia Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section, Board Chair for a local Red Cross Chapter, Editorial Board Chair for the Journal of College & University Law, and service on numerous boards.


Barbara Deluca, has a Ph.D. from THE Ohio State University in Economics and Consumer Economics.  Dr. Deluca taught at the University of Dayton for 20 years in the College of Arts & Sciences. In 1995, she moved to the School of Education and Health Sciences where she has taught School Finance (both p-12 and higher ed) and currently teaches primarily Research Design, Dissertation Seminar, and Statistics in the Ph.D. program. She recently spent four years as Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research. In years past, Dr. Deluca was Founder and Director of the First-Year Experience Program at the University of Dayton, as well as Associate Director of the Honors and Scholars Programs.  She is currently in her 42nd year at UD. Prior to her Higher education career, she taught junior high school for four years. Dr. Deluca’s research focuses on school finance.  She has also co-authored a book on faculty bullying, Faculty Incivility: The Rise of the Academic Bully Culture and What to Do About It.
William A. Owings, is a professor of educational leadership at Old Dominion University, has been a middle school English teacher in Baltimore County, MD, and an elementary and high school principal, an assistant superintendent, and a superintendent in Virginia. In 1999, he moved into the professorate, first at Longwood University and in 2002, to Old Dominion University. He is married to Leslie S. Kaplan, Ed.D., a retired school administrator and his frequent collaborator. Bill’s professional interests focus on education finance, principal quality, and teacher quality as they relate to school improvement and student achievement. His scholarly writings, co-authored with Leslie S. Kaplan, appear in journals including the Journal of Education Finance, Phi Delta Kappan, Teachers College Record, Journal of School Leadership, NASSP Bulletin, The Eurasian Journal of Business and Economics, and the European Journal of Economic and Political Studies. The World Bank cites his work on education as an investment in human capital, and his text, American Public School Finance. He has also co-authored Organizational Behavior for School Leaders: Leveraging Your School for Success, Leadership and Organizational Behavior in Education, Introduction to the Principalship: Theory to Practice, Culture Re-Boot: Reinvigorating School Culture to Improve Student Outcomes, Educational Foundations (2nd ed.), and The Effective Schools Movement: History, Analysis, and Application. He serves on the Journal of Education Finance Advisory Board. In 2008, the Virginia Educational Research Association presented Bill with the Charles Edgar Clear Research Award for “consistent and substantial contributions to educational research and scholarship,” and in 2014, NEFA named him as Distinguished Fellow of Research and Practice. In 2016, Bill donated a 25-year school finance database to the NEFA, opening up a new area of research for professors and graduate students
Gabriel R. Serna is an assistant professor in the School of Education at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech). He has nearly 15 years of experience in higher education including as director of programming at New Mexico State University, assistant director of admissions at the University of Kentucky, associate instructor at Indiana University Bloomington, and most recently as assistant professor in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership program at the University of Northern Colorado. His research interests lie in the areas of higher education economics, finance, and policy. He is particularly interested in the economic relationships between the states and their public institutions, student price-response, college and university fiscal administration, undocumented student populations, and enrollment management. Some of his published work can be seen or is forthcoming in the Journal of Education Finance, Education Policy Analysis Archives, the Journal of Higher Education Management, the Planning for Higher Education Journal, The Handbook of Strategic Enrollment Management, and The Encyclopedia of Education Economics & Finance. Dr. Serna’s research was nationally recognized by the Journal of Education Finance and the National Education Finance Academy with the “Outstanding Article of the Year” award in 2014. He is the co-author of two recent education finance textbooks (Rowman & Littlefield) with Spencer Weiler. Dr. Serna currently serves or has served on the Board of Advisors of the National Education Finance Academy and the Association for Institutional Research’s Forum Advisory Board. In addition, he serves on the Editorial Boards of the ASHE Report Series, Research in Higher Education, and the Journal of College & Character. Dr. Serna holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy from Indiana University Bloomington (2012); a Master of Public Policy in Public Finance & Budgeting from the Martin School of Public Policy & Administration at the University of Kentucky (2008); and a BBA in Economics as well as a BA in German from New Mexico State University (2006).


Eric Houck is an Associate Professor of Leadership and Policy in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He received his PhD from Vanderbilt University in 2006, a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1999 and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992.

His current research focuses on the equitable and efficient allocation of resources through school finance mechanisms, including how these mechanisms address funding across student, district and sector characteristics. He is a coauthor of one of the leading school finance textbooks on the market and his research has appeared in publications such as the Journal of Education Finance, the Peabody Journal of Education, Education and Urban Society, and Leadership and Policy in Schools.  A former public school teacher and central office administrator, Eric utilizes political, educational and administrative frameworks to understand how context and politics drive seemingly irrational policy decisions.  

Among other honors and accolades, Eric was recognized as a Distinguished Research and Practice Fellow by the NEFA in 2012 and has served as an expert and consultant at the local, state, and national levels.    

Lenford C. Sutton Sr. is Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations at Illinois State University, where he has held an academic appointment for the last four years. Dr. Sutton’s research interests are focused on issues related to education funding, the privatization of public schools, the fiscal effects of educational reform, school desegregation, and education finance litigation. The results of his research have been published in a variety of journals, including Educational Considerations, International Journal of Education Reform and the Journal of Education Finance. He was selected as a Distinguished Research & Practice Fellow in 2014 by the National Education Finance Academy, serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Education Finance, and the Board of Directors of the Education Law Association.

Philip Westbrook served as a public school educator for 17 years including experience as an elementary teacher, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent.  He is currently Professor of Practice at The University of Alabama where he has taught in the educational leadership program for the past 11 years.  He teaches courses in education finance, education law, supervision, and curriculum.  He has also served as the Director of the Blackburn Institute, a leadership development organization on the campus of The University of Alabama, and taught public policy.  Philip earned a B.S. from Birmingham-Southern College, a MA from The University of Alabama at Birmingham, and an Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University.