Government, Higher Education, and Human Resources

Snyder appoints senior education policy advisor

March 5, 2015
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Snyder appoints senior education policy advisor
Karen McPhee. Courtesy State of Michigan

An educator in the region with experience in career-readiness programs will help guide education initiatives at the state level after being appointed the new senior education policy advisor by Gov. Rick Snyder.

During the governor’s Economic and Education Summit in Detroit this week, Snyder announced the appointment of Karen McPhee, superintendent of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, or ISD, in Holland, to the role.

McPhee will assume the full-time advising position next month and replaces former senior education policy advisor Craig Ruff, who retired at the end of 2014.

Advisor role

McPhee will assist administrative efforts to improve education for Michigan students in several areas: early stage reading programs; preparing high school students for college and careers; and improving academics and transparency in schools across the state.

Working with educators, stakeholders and policy leaders, McPhee said the role will include looking at key issues Snyder and the administration have established as priorities, such as early literacy and the entire talent-development system.

Snyder said the emphasis is on developing life-long learners and a talented workforce, which will strengthen the state for decades to come, and McPhee is passionate about helping young people reach their potential.

“We’re focused on improving education for all Michigan students,” Snyder said.

He added that McPhee has been a “leader in working collaboratively” with districts, higher education and the business community to “provide opportunities for students.”

“I am certainly excited to be given this opportunity to have an impact on 1.5 million school children in Michigan,” McPhee said. “There is a lot of work to do. There are a lot of good things happening, and we have to illuminate the great work that is being done.”

Knowledge of system’s “complexity”

McPhee has more than 30 years of experience working at Ottawa Area ISD and roughly 12 years serving as the superintendent.

“I think my experience working with literally dozens and hundreds of educators over 30-plus years has given me an understanding of the complexity of the education system and that is what I can lend to the conversation,” McPhee said.

McPhee was also recognized by the Michigan School Public Relations Association as an Outstanding Superintendent Communicator in 2014.

Ottawa Area ISD

Ottawa Area ISD provides services and programs to 11 school districts, six charter schools and 18 parochial schools in Ottawa County to support about 55,000 students.

The organization provides a range of programs: the Careerline Tech Center, providing training in 24 career areas; futurePREP’d, a community and business-driven partnership exposing students to careers and training; and adult career and technical training opportunities at the Thompson M-TEC through a partnership with Grand Rapids Community College; and more.

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