Meet the Board

President – Sue Durkin

E. Sue Durkin, M.A.E., is an Arizona native and has served adult high school students for twenty-three years as an instructor and, since 2001, an administrator at International Commerce Secondary Schools.  Sue earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Master of Arts in English from Northern Arizona University, a Post-baccalaureate Certification in Education from Ottawa University, and a Diploma in Humanities from Harrison Middleton University. In her capacity as administrator, she has simultaneously worked as principal, director of assessment, curriculum developer, and director of special populations. As a result of her many roles, she has become proficient in Arizona’s Academic Standards as well as state and national education policy. In the past five years, Sue has served on three different task forces with the Arizona Department of Education: Alternative Pathway to a High School Diploma; Adult Education English Standard Development; and Adult Education Social Studies Standards Development and currently serves on the Alternative Accountability Technical Advisory Committee (AATAC).  Sue is highly invested in and dedicated to helping Arizona’s underserved adult population become college and career ready through the attainment of a high school diploma.

President-Elect – Wayne Tucker

Wayne Tucker, M.Ed., is the Superintendent of PPEP TEC High School, a network of six alternative high school campuses stretching across Southern Arizona. The mission of PTHS is to provide innovative, high quality educational opportunities to students whose needs have not been met by traditional schools and who are at risk of disengaging from the educational system. Wayne began his academic career as a biology student in his home state of Florida but transferred to Bennington College, in Vermont, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, concentrating in epistemology and cognitive systems. Some years later, he earned a Master of Secondary Education degree from the University of Arizona and has been devoted to the study of Alternative Education throughout his entire teaching career.

Secretary – Binky Michele Jones

Binky Michele Jones, M.Ed., currently serves as Senior Vice President for Ombudsman Educational Services a subsidiary of Chancelight Education.  She has over 30 years of experience in educational and business administration.  She earned her Bachelors degree in Secondary Education and a Masters degree in Educational Administration from the University of Missouri Columbia.  For the Arizona Alternative Education Consortium, she has held the roles of President Elect, President, and Secretary.  She also serves as Co-Chair for the Opportunity for Youth Education Momentum Action team.  Additionally, she serves on the Alternative Accountability Technical Assistance Committee (AATAC) for the Arizona Department of Education. In 2012, she was awarded the Servant Heart, Chancelight’s highest honor to recognize exemplary leadership and operational excellence.

Treasurer – Dr. Timothy Smith

Timothy Andrew Smith, Ed.D., Is the president and CEO of Learning Matters Educational Group, a leading charter school organization in Arizona and California.  Dr. Smith is the founder of E-Institute Charter Schools, an online high school with satellite high school locations in the West Valley and Calibre Academy, an “A” rated K-8 traditional school in Surprise, Arizona.  Dr. Smith is also the founder of Taylion High Desert Academy in San Bernardino County, California. Dr. Smith is an advocate for the educational needs of nontraditional students and has been a leader in the Arizona charter school movement since 1996.  Dr. Smith has served as the treasurer of AZAEC since the organization was first established in Arizona.  Dr. Smith earned a Global Executive Doctor of Education from the University of Southern California, a Global MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Korean Language and Asian Students from Brigham Young University.

Past President – Kellie Burns

Mrs. Kellie Burns, M.Ed., is the Past President for the Arizona Alternative Education Consortium.  She is the District Executive Officer at the Yavapai Accommodation School District in Prescott, Arizona.  Prior to serving as the DEO, Kellie served as the Dean of Students at YASD.  In addition, she taught elementary school in both Holbrook and Seligman, Arizona.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership.  She is currently working on her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University.  She serves on several other professional organization boards including Arizona Correctional Educators Association, Yavapai County Education Foundation and the Forest Fee Management Association.  Kellie lives in Paulden, Arizona with her husband and teenage boys on their hobby farm.  Her past times include spending time with her grandchildren, gardening and caring for her horses, dogs and the plethora of other animals she has collected. 

Board Member – Cyndi Cubillas

Cyndi Cubillas is a Tucson native and has been working in alternative education at Southern Arizona Community Academy for 21 years as administrator, registrar and student advocate.  She currently holds the distinction of serving as their Director of Student Affairs. During her time at SACA, she has been the faculty sponsor to numerous student clubs, including the popular YLM (Your Life Matters Suicide Awareness & Prevention Peer/Community Outreach) and TSP Avengers (high school chapter of the The Sanctuary Project Animal Advocacy and Rescue).   In January of 2020, Cyndi was the recipient of the Speak Up, Stand Up, Save–a-Life Educator Difference Maker of the Year for the State of Arizona.  She is currently working with local mental and behavioral health alliances in her community to help create a YLM curriculum for other schools and educators to implement on their campuses.  Cyndi has recently become a certified trainer for Youth Mental Health First Aid to assist in the movement to help bring awareness to other educators about this topic and to reduce the stigma surrounding it.  Aside from her work within the school setting, one of Ms. Cubillas’ passions is being on the softball field as a player and/or coach.  As a Master Level Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches College, she has coached at the high school, college-prep, NJCAA and NCAA levels.  Another love of Cyndi’s is animals and in 2011, Cyndi was one of the Co-Founders of The Sanctuary Project Animal Rescue, where she was the Director of Rescue and Placement.  Cyndi has a strong passion for investing in the lives of her students and players and is doggedly determined to find resources in our community to help them see their worth and develop their potential.  “I believe in the power of teamwork and I am honored to be a part of the AEC team!”

Board Member – Ginger Flaumenhaft

Ginger Flaumenhaft, M.Ed., is the Vice Principal at Yavapai Accommodation School District. She earned her Master’s Degree in Education at California State University, Los Angeles and was a Seabee in the United States Navy before using her G.I. bill to go to college to become a teacher. She has worked in education for more than 15 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling to new places, trying new recipes, and spending time with her family.

Board Member – Lannie Gillespie

Lannie Gillespie, M.Ed., is the Associate County School Superintendent in Navajo County.  She has served the schools office in this capacity for 15 years.  Her responsibilities include director of the Education Service Agency, Administrator for Jail Education and accommodation district/alternative school– NCIS and Administrator of the special services consortium.  Prior to her position at the county she served as the curriculum/title I director for the Show Low Unified School District.  Lannie currently holds a master’s degree in Elementary Education.  She holds a special education, principal certification and a Reading specialist endorsement.  In addition to working for the county, Lannie is a preservice instructor for NAU.  She teaches the literacy classes to students within the Show Low extended campus cohorts. 

Board Member – Rachelle Morris

Rachelle Morris, M.Ed., currently serves as the Vice President of Operations for Student Choice High School, an alternative education high school charter district extending across 8 cities throughout Arizona. Serving in this position has afforded Rachelle the opportunity to lead her district to positively impact young adults in Arizona needing a champion while offering a flexible pathway to their high school diploma. Rachelle is a second-generation Arizona native having grown up on the west side of Phoenix in Peoria. After graduating from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education, Rachelle began her teaching career in the Peoria and Dysart school districts, but ultimately grew roots in the Litchfield Elementary School District. It was there she was mentored into school leadership which led to her pursuing a Master of Arts in Education in Administration and Supervision. She cut her teeth as an assistant principal in the Creighton and Madison districts serving at Title-1 schools. While at Rose Lane Elementary, she helped to achieve their distinction as the 2009 National Distinguished Title 1 School for Arizona and while at Papago Elementary, she authored and was awarded the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant bringing $500,000 to her district over 5 years. Rachelle then went back to Litchfield to become the principal for Scott L. Libby Elementary School to fill the big shoes of two previous National Distinguished Principals. During her seven years of leadership, she led the school to increase their school ranking to become the 12th highest performing K-8 school in the state for 2018. Other distinctions earned during this time included A+ School of Excellence for 2016, NCEA Higher Performing School in 2013 & 2014, and the ADE Achievement in Action Award in 2014. Most recently, Rachelle earned the distinction of being a National Certified Principal Mentor through NAESP. Having been an educator for 25 years, Rachelle is proud to continue serving the underprivileged communities in her state!

Board Member – Steve Purkiss

Steve Purkis, M.Ed., has lived in Arizona for most of his life spending that time in either Scottsdale, Flagstaff, or Tucson.  Currently residing in Tucson, he serves as the Lead Teacher and Principal for PPEP Tec High School’s Celestino Fernandez Learning Center, a grade 9-12, Alternative, and Title-1 high school.  Steve received a Master of Secondary Education in 2005 followed by a M. Ed. in Educational Leadership and Administration in 2018.  He then received his Principal’s Certification the same year.  Within his sixteen years of education, Steve has taught for the first eight years and has been in administration since serving in all Title-1 schools with two being designated as Alternative Education schools. 

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