Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Sept. 6 that Diane Zook has been appointed to serve on the Southern Regional Education Board, and Lisa Hunter and Jeff Wood were appointed to serve on the State Board of Education. While the State Board of Education is an Arkansas institution, the SREB is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization made up of 16 member states across the American South – including Texas, Florida and Delaware.
Zook formerly served as a member and chairwoman of the State Board of Education, during which tenure she was noted for her support of charter schools and evaluation of the Little Rock School District (LRSD). She has taught at Henderson Middle School in Little Rock, the Rockefeller Demonstration School in Morrilton, and the Child Study Center on the UAMS Campus. She has also served on the Board of Manna House (a food and clothing bank) and the Foundation Board of Ozarka College in Melbourne, and has collaborated with the General Assembly to address education issues.
“Diane has served students of all ages through many different positions,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “She has been a blessing to the state of Arkansas and to all the people who have been impacted by her passion for education. Diane will provide the SREB with expertise in improving education.”
Hunter is currently the executive vice president and chief data officer for Simmons Bank, with a career in banking and finance that has included positions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia.
“It is an honor to be selected, and I am very excited to serve the state of Arkansas,” Hunter said. “I am grateful to the Governor for his confidence in me and for giving me an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of Arkansas children.”
Wood has extensive experience in education, but is currently operating a law practice in Little Rock which focuses on consumer protection litigation. He served on the Community Advisory Board for the LRSD while the district was under state management, and was elected to serve on the district’s board when it returned to local control.
“I am honored and thankful to have Gov. Hutchinson’s trust to do this important work. My hope is that Improving education – and literacy, in particular – will be the highest priority of our state’s leaders,” Wood said. “While I have enjoyed serving the students and families of Little Rock with my colleagues on the Little Rock School Board, I look forward to working with my new friends on the State Board of Education to continue moving Arkansas education forward.
Hunter and Wood are replacing Beth Anne Rankin and Charisse Dean, respectively; the incomers’ terms will expire on June 30, 2029.