Wood brings years of experience as a dedicated school administrator in Arkansas. As deputy commissioner, he focuses on a variety of departmental matters, including finance, legislation, and relations with school districts. Wood was named to the position in 2010 after serving 18 years as superintendent of the Searcy district. He previously worked as deputy superintendent for the Little Rock district and superintendent of the Kensett district. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harding University in Searcy and is a native of Columbus, Miss.
Chief of Staff
As Chief of Staff, Phyllis Stewart facilitates activities of the Office of the Commissioner and coordinates special projects in support of the Department’s strategic initiatives. She serves as the liaison between the Commissioner and the State Board of Education and organizes the Board’s monthly meetings. Stewart brings over 30 years experience in education. Prior to joining the Department in 2009, she served as Director of Communications for the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators. She spent 28 years in the Pulaski County Special School District providing executive support to the Superintendent and the School Board. Over the years, Stewart has enjoyed sharing her knowledge and expertise with others responsible for executive support and leadership. She has provided professional development to district support staff and leaders of other organizations on topics including communication, strategic planning and organizational leadership.
Assistant Commissioner, Learning Services
Bednar leads the effort to focus support for teaching and learning in Arkansas schools. She joined the Department in 2010 after serving for five years as the superintendent of the Stuttgart district. She’s also worked as an administrator at the Pulaski County Special School District and a classroom teacher in Stuttgart. She is past-president of the Arkansas Association of Curriculum and Instruction Administrators. Her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees are from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Bednar is a native of Stuttgart.
Assistant Commissioner, Research and Technology
Boardman, a Department employee since 1970, has logged the most service to the agency among Leadership Team members. He’s managed numerous programs having worked in Curriculum, Teacher Licensure, Accountability, Federal Programs and Assessment, among other areas. In his current role, he supervises data collection, statistical analysis and technology. He previously worked as a teacher in Monette, Mo. A native of Heber Springs, he has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Arkansas.
Assistant Commissioner, Fiscal and Administrative Services
Cleveland formerly served as superintendent of the Lavaca district before starting with the ADE on June 25. In his role, he oversees the agency’s finances and the distribution of funds to public schools. Previously, he worked in the Magazine district in Logan County as superintendent, high school principal, coach, and social studies teacher. He is pursuing a doctorate in education from Harding University and has a master’s from Harding and a bachelor’s from Arkansas Tech. Cleveland is a native of Paris.
Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources and Teacher Effectiveness
Cushman manages a variety of operations including the agency’s facilities, teacher ethics investigations, and teacher licensure. She was hired to the position in 2011 after four years as superintendent of the Hector district. Her resume includes stints as superintendent, principal, and teacher at the former Evening Shade district, as assistant superintendent of the Bismarck district, and as a teacher at St. Paul Elementary in Pocahontas. A native of Evening Shade, Cushman has a doctorate from Harding University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Arkansas State University.
Assistant Commissioner, Public School Accountability
Hoy was hired in 2011 from the Monticello district where he served as assistant superintendent for two years. His division is responsible for holding districts accountable under No Child Left Behind, for complying with state educational standards and monitoring desegregation and equity. He previously worked as federal programs coordinator for the Lee County district, as principal at Hughes High School, and as a teacher in Forrest City and Atlanta. A native of Hughes, Hoy has bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist degrees from Arkansas State University.
Lasiter heads the Department’s Legal Office, handling lawsuits, legislation and rule-making. He’s worked for the ADE since 2008 and previously served as an assistant attorney general, defending state agencies in federal and state court. His military experience includes being a judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. A native of Pulaski County, Lasiter has a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University and a law degree from the UALR Bowen School of Law.
Policy and Special Projects Director
Harriman plays a key role in managing special projects such as No Kid Hungry and STEM Works which includes the New Tech Network High Schools and UTeach teacher preparation program. She’s been with the Department since 2010. She previously worked for the National Center for Education Achievement, ACT, the U.S. Department of Education, the Texas Education Reform Caucus and Texas Public Education Reform Foundation, the Arlington Independent School District, and Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. Harriman earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master's degree from the University of North Texas. She is a native of Texas.
Legislative Service Director
Griffin has served the Department for 25 years in various capacities. As legislative services director, she’s the agency’s liaison with legislative staff, helping facilitate meetings and information requests. She began in that role during the school funding debates of 2003 and has also had positions in the Department’s legal office, personnel office and with instructional services. A native of Little Rock, Griffin has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a master’s from Webster University.