News Release

March 14, 2023


The ad hoc search committee of the Nebraska State Board of Education has identified four finalists in the search for Nebraska’s next Commissioner of Education.

“The Board received a strong slate applicants and while choosing finalists was not an easy task, we feel very confident in our selections,” said Board President Patti Gubbels. “Each finalist brings a unique perspective and extensive experience that will benefit our state.”

Finalists for the position in alphabetical order include:

  • Dr. Lisa Coons, Chief Academic Officer for the Tennessee Department of Education, Nashville, Tennessee.  Photo, Resume
  • Dr. Brian Maher, CEO and Executive Director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, Pierre, South Dakota. Photo, Resume
  • Dr. Melissa Poloncic, Superintendent, DC West Community Schools, Valley, Nebraska. Photo,Resume
  • Dr. Summer Stephens, Superintendent of Schools and CTE Administrator for Churchill County School District, Fallon, Nevada. Photo, Resume

Finalists were selected after a comprehensive search in partnership with the professional recruiting firm, McPherson and Jacobson. Feedback from a community survey and a public work session with board members helped develop the desired experiences and qualities of the next commissioner.

The Board plans to interview the finalists in public meetings on March 30. Each candidate will also meet with various small groups throughout the day that will include NDE staff members and educational partners. The State Board plans to hold a public meeting on March 31 to select the next Commissioner of Education.

David Jespersen
Public Information Officer, Nebraska Department of Education