Members

The Maine State Board of Education consists of nine members appointed by the Governor. Four must live in Maine's First Congressional District when appointed, four must live in the Second Congressional District, and one can live in either Congressional District. Board members serve staggered, five-year terms.

The Board elects a Chair and Vice Chair annually.

The State Board also has two nonvoting student members appointed by the Governor. At all times, the Board has one high school junior and one high school senior. One student attends a school in the First Congressional District; the other attends a school in the Second Congressional District. Student members serve two-year terms. More on student members.

The State Board of Education has four standing committees. Board members also serve on outside boards, commissions and other bodies.

Fern M.Y. Desjardins, Chair

Fern M.Y. Desjardins, Chair is a resident of St. Agatha.  Fern had a 43-year career in PK-12 education as an elementary school teacher, principal, and Superintendent of Schools in the rural, small school system of MSAD 33.  During her principalship, Dr. Levesque Elementary School was designated a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.  Fern is a life-long learner who holds a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Language Arts from UMaine, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership from USM, and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from UMFK. She has taught graduate level courses for UMaine as an adjunct faculty member in their outreach programs in Aroostook County, served on UMFK’s Board of Visitors (one year as President and two as Vice President), Northern Maine Medical Center's (NMMC) Board of Trustees, and she has been an active member of numerous educational associations and committees.  After her retirement, Fern worked as a facilitator for school systems and served on various committees and special projects of the Maine Department of Education.  She was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2018 and to the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) Board of Directors in 2019 where she currently serves as secretary/treasurer.  She volunteers at her local church, parish, and at the diocese level.  Fern and her husband, Francis, have three grown children and four grandchildren.  Fern currently serves as Chair of the State Board of Education. 

185 Main Street
St. Agatha, ME 04772
Email: fern.desjardins8@gmail.com
Home: 207-543-6005
Seat #03
Term Ends: 2023

Board Committees: Legislative Action, School Facilities Construction (Chair)
Outside Membership: Maine Charter School Commission

Wendy L. Ault, Vice Chair

Wendy L. Ault, Vice Chair is a resident of Wayne.  She is a graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.  Wendy served as the Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Maine at Farmington for seventeen years.  During her tenure at UMF, she was elected to four terms in the Maine House of Representatives representing part of Kennebec County from 1988 through 1996.  She served all eight years as a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, serving as its House Chair during her final term.  Wendy is the Executive Director of the MELMAC Education Foundation.  Wendy currently serves as Vice Chair of the State Board of Education.

26 Pond Road
Wayne, ME 04284
Email: ault@melmacfoundation.org
Phone: 207-557-4987
Seat #02
Term Ends: 2022

Board Committees: Legislative Action, Career and Technical Education, Certification and Higher Education (Chair), Student Voices (Co-Chair)

Mark Balfantz

Mark Balfantz is a resident of Portland.  Mark served in the united States Marine Corps for 10 years.  During his service, he served as an attorney working in various areas, such as legal assistance, prosecution, appellate advocacy, death-penalty litigation, and deployment to Iraq.  Mark and his wife have two children and are active members of the community.  His wife serves on Portland's Public Art Committee and Mark served on the Portland School Board for three years and currently, serves on the board for the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children.  Mark works as an Association General Counsel and Lending Compliance Officer for Kennebunk Savings.

P.O. Box 3621
Portland, ME  04104
Email: mark.balfantz@gmail.com

Home: 207-619-3411
Seat #08
Term Ends: 2026

Board Committees:

Kristin K. Bishop

Kristin K. Bishop is a resident of Madison.  She is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where she studied Education and Government and Legal Studies.  Kristin holds a lifelong dedication to public service and community engagement and has been involved with numerous higher education, service, and civic organizations.  Kristin works in the Office of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships at Colby College in Waterville, Maine where she helps to support partnership development and student civic learning opportunities with area nonprofit and community organizations.  She previously served on the Maine State Board of Education as a Student Representative.  Kristin is currently pursuing her graduate studies at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine and expects to complete her MBA the summer of 2022.

21 Young Street
Madison, ME 04950
Email: 
Cell: 207-399-5343
Seat #04
Term Ends: 2027

Board Committees: Career and Technical Education

Paulette Bonneau

Paulette Bonneau is a resident of Biddeford.  She attended Stonehill College and received her bachelor's degree in Psychology.  Upon graduating, Paulette became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker focusing on Mental Health and Substance abuse.  At the same time, Paulette worked as a School Social Worker at the John F. Kennedy School supporting students and their families from grades 3-5.  In 2004, Paulette was awarded her master's in Social Work from the University of Michigan and in 2006 received a Graduate Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership/Administration from the University of Southern Maine.  She currently holds a position as the Director of the Biddeford Regional Technical Center of Technology.

77 Granite Street
Biddeford, ME 04005
Email: paulette.b@biddefordschools.me
Home: 207-229-4433
Seat #07


Term Ends: 2026

Board Committees: Career and Technical Education

James E. Ford

James E. Ford is a resident of Brunswick.  Mr. Ford holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Hobart and William Smith College and earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Additionally, he holds a master's degree in special education from the University of Southern Maine.  He is a former teacher and is skilled in Lesson Planning, Teaching English as a Second Language, Classroom Management, Volunteer Management, and Differentiated Instruction.

23 Boody Street
Brunswick, ME  04011
Email: jef54@comcast.net
Home: 207-841-9377
Seat #05

Term Ends: 2026

Board Committees: School Facilities Construction, Student Voices (Co-Chair)

Wilson G. Hess

Wilson G. Hess is a resident of Freedom.  He and his wife Ellie maintain their home in Freedom where, since 1978 they have raised a family of three daughters on 100 acres of scattered woodland, fields, and lakefront.  Wilson has over 40 years' experience in higher education, including over 20 years as a college president in private independent, two-year public, and four-year public institutions.  He has also been privileged to serve as a professor of history and thinks of himself first and foremost as an educator.  Wilson holds a deep personal commitment to community service and has a broad range of experiences with public service, economic and community development organizations, and community betterment issues.  Illustrations of his leadership in statewide educational initiatives include service as president of the Maine Independent Colleges Association, appointment by Governor Angus King to the Maine Higher Education Achievement Task Force, and being the immediate past-president of the Maine Higher Education Council.  He currently serves as University of Maine System Research Professor and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor. 

465 Belfast Road
Freedom, ME 04941
Email: wgh.sbe@fairpoint.net
Home: 207- 249-7670
Seat #09
Term Ends: 2023

Board Committees: Legislative Action (Chair), Certification and Higher Education, Career and Technical Education (Chair), School Facilities Construction
Outside Membership: Maine Charter School Commission (Chair)  

Thomas E. (Tom) Keller

Thomas E. (Tom) Keller is a resident of Newcastle.  Tom is the Founder and Director of STEM Education Strategies LLC.  He was a Senior Research Scientist at the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance in Augusta, Maine, as well as director of the Reach Center project on science out-of-school learning from 2011 until 2019.  He has been the principal investigator on several National Science Foundation grants.  Tom was a senior program officer with the National Research Council's (NRC) Board on Science Education where he co-directed development of A Framework for K-12 Science Education, which led to development of the Next Generation Science Standards.  In 2007, while a program officer at the NRC, he led development of the award-winning Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments report.  From 1986 to 2007, he held several positions in K-12 education in Maine, including being a high school science teacher, a director of instruction and eighteen years as State Science Supervisor for the Maine Department of Education.  During his time with the Department, he was a co-Principal Investigator on a project that created the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance.  Tom served as president of the National Council of State Science Supervisors, was a founder and the first president of the Maine Curriculum Leaders Association and a founder and the first president of the Computer Science Teacher Association Maine chapter.  Currently, he is a member of the Board of Visitors for the University of Maine at Augusta.  Tom has an Ed.D. in science education from the University of Massachusetts and a B.S. in zoology from Texas A&M University.  Tom lives in Newcastle with his partner, also a Maine science educator.  

208 N Newcastle Road
Newcastle, ME  04553

Email: tom.keller.me@gmail.com
Cell: 207-350-6106
Seat #06
Term Ends: 2022

Board Committees: Certification and Higher Education
Outside Membership: Professional Standards Board

Victoria P. Kornfield

Victoria P. Kornfield is a resident of Bangor.  Tori served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives, representing part of Bangor.  She was the House chair of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee for three of the four terms she served on the committee.  A lifelong educator, she taught for 37 years, 30 of which were at Bangor High School.  Tori has a master's degree in teaching and a certificate of advanced study in educational administration.  She has traveled extensively, including a trip around the world by ship.  She has been out with Maine game wardens to tag bears in their winter dens and on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.  Tori feels extremely lucky to retire from a profession she loved and then to immediately begin a new career in the legislature which she found very interesting and stimulating.  After being termed out of the legislature, she was appointed to the State Board of Education by Governor Mills.  Tori has two daughters, four grandchildren and her late husband who was a professor at the University of Maine.

48 Madison Street
Bangor, ME 04401
Email: torikornfield@gmail.com
Home: 207-907-9491
Seat #01
Term Ends: 2026

Board Committees: Legislative Action, Certification and Higher Education
Outside Membership: Maine Charter School Commission

Joshua T. Leinwand (Student)

Joshua T. Leinwand is a student at Yarmouth High School.  He was appointed to the board by the Governor in June of 2021.  Joshua is an active member of his school community and is a member of many extracurricular activities including the school's Debate Team, Student Senate, Class Council, Model UN Team and Math Team.  Joshua is also an accomplished athlete having been a member of Yarmouth High School's cross- country team, indoor track team and outdoor track team.  Alongside his education and extracurriculars, Joshua is a member of the Trail Crew for the Royal River Conservation Trust.  His hard work is focused on helping him achieve his goal of one day becoming a US Senator.  For him, being able to represent people is the most rewarding of feats.  

175 Royall Point Road
Yarmouth, ME 04096
Email: y2023joslei@yarmouthschools.org
Home: 207-274-1953
Seat #11
Term Ends: 2023

Board Committees: Student Voices, Career and Technical Education

Outside Membership: Commissioner's Student Cabinet

Greyson Orne (Student)

Greyson Orne is a student at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) in Limestone.  He was appointed to the board by the Governor in February of 2021.  Greyson's activities include Astronomy Club, Math Team, National Science Bowl, Varsity Nordic Ski Team, Kiwanis Key Club, Maine YMCA Youth in Government, Jazz Band, and he is an officer in the MSSM Student Senate.  He is pursuing a private pilot's license.  He has a strong interest in community service.  Greyson believes in student involvement in the education system of Maine and plans to advocate for “advanced education in public schools, especially rural areas with little access to other schooling options.” After high school, Greyson plans to apply to the three major U.S. Service Academies to become a commissioned officer in the United States Military.  
 

95 High Street
Limestone, ME 04750
Email: orneg@mssm.org
Home: 207-706-6643
Seat #10
Term Ends: 2022

Board Committees: Student Voices

Outside Membership: Commissioner's Student Cabinet