Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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Department Leadership



Dr. Ivy Pfeffer

Deputy Commissioner

As deputy commissioner, Dr. Pfeffer works with ADE team members, legislators, community members, school district personnel and educators on finance, legislation and other education issues. Pfeffer joined the Arkansas Department of Education in 2013 as the director of educator evaluation, where she coordinated the administration of the new teacher and principal evaluation systems. She was hired as assistant commissioner for Educator Effectiveness and Licensure July 1, 2014. Prior to coming to ADE, Pfeffer worked at the Pocahontas School District for 18 years. She taught Spanish and English at Pocahontas Junior High School before being named the secondary assistant principal at the high school. She served as principal and as an adjunct Spanish instructor for Black River Technical College. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education in Spanish and English from Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, a Master of Science in Education in Integrated Technology in the Curriculum from Walden University in Minneapolis, MN., completed the ASU program of study for administrative certification and earned an Educator Specialist in Educational Leadership. She received a Doctorate of Education in School Leadership from Arkansas Tech University at Russellville. Pfeffer is from Pocahontas.

Gina Windle

Chief of Staff

Gina Windle brings more than 20 years of education experience to the Arkansas Department of Education. She began her career as a language arts teacher at Prescott High School in 1995. She later taught in the East End School District and Perryville School District. She served as a high school counselor in the East End School District, beginning in 2006. The Delight, Arkansas native has a Bachelor of Science in Education, English and Communication from Henderson State University at Arkadelphia and a Master of Education in School Counseling and Leadership from Arkansas Tech University at Russellville. 

Greg Rogers

Assistant Commissioner, Fiscal and Administrative Services

As assistant commissioner, Rogers oversees the distribution of funds to public schools, finance and student management software, and fiscal distress services. Rogers began working at ADE in 2012 as the department’s chief financial officer. He is also continuing in that role where he oversees the agency’s financial operations, including biennial and fiscal year budget requests, and represents the agency at legislative committee meetings. With more than 18 years of state government experience, Rogers previously worked for the Department of Finance and Administration and Department of Human Services. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia and a Master of Business Administration in International Business from Salem International University in Salem, W.V.

Dr. Suzanne Bailey

Assistant Commissioner, Educator Effectiveness and Licensure

Dr. Suzanne Bailey was named assistant commissioner for Educator Effectiveness and Licensure effective Dec. 3, 2018. Her experience includes serving as a mentor to new superintendents, providing strategic planning training for school board members and district leaders, and attending the Leadership Academy’s Master Principal Institute. Bailey has a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Harding University at Searcy and completed the superintendent program of study at Harding. She has a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Harding, a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Central Arkansas at Conway, and an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from Arkansas State University at Beebe. She serves on the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science board and previously served as a board member for the Arkansas Activities Association, Arkansas Professional Licensure Standards Board, Arkansas Rural Education Association, Arkansas Association of School Administrators, Arkansas School Boards Association Workers Compensation, and Arkansas Association of Curriculum and Instruction Administrators.

Stacy Smith

Assistant Commissioner, Learning Services
As assistant commissioner, a role she began in March 2016, Smith oversees the largest division at ADE. Prior to being appointed to the position, she served as interim assistant commissioner. She was the director of the Curriculum and Instruction unit at ADE, a position she held since July 2014.  Before joining ADE, Smith served as the principal at Hill Farm Elementary in the Bryant School District from 2012 to 2014. She also was the principal at Fountain Lake Elementary from 2010 to 2012, assistant principal and curriculum coordinator at Angie Grant Elementary in the Benton School District from 2004 to 2010, and assistant principal at the Howard Perrin and Angie Grant Elementary Schools from 2003 to 2004. Prior to her administrative positions, Smith was a teacher for nine years, having taught fourth and fifth grade, seventh-grade social studies and sixth-grade language arts. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master in Educational Leadership from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is currently working on an Education Specialist degree.

Deborah Coffman

Assistant Commissioner, Public School Accountability
Coffman assumed her role as assistant commissioner for Public School Accountability July 1, 2017. As assistant commissioner, Coffman oversees the division that provides school improvement, performance and equity assistance, as well as desegregation and standards assurance monitoring. Coffman previously served as chief of staff for the Arkansas Department of Education, where she coordinated the agency’s strategic performance management process, served as the agency liaison to the State Board of Education and provided guidance to the Communications Unit. Before she accepted that position, Coffman worked as ADE’s director of Professional Development, collaborating with many stakeholders to provide quality professional learning opportunities to Arkansas educators. Coffman has also served as literacy program manager for ADE, instructional facilitator for Pocahontas Public Schools, literacy specialist at the Northeast Education Service Cooperative and elementary teacher at Hoxie Public Schools. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Education from Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. In addition, she has served as an adjunct professor, GED instructor and private school educator. Coffman is a native of Black Rock.

Donald Benton

Assistant Commissioner, Research and Technology
As assistant commissioner, Donald Benton oversees technology initiatives and resources such as ADE’s Ambassador Academy, Arkansas Digital Sandbox and Student GPS dashboards. He also oversees the Arkansas Public School Computer Network, which includes eSchoolPlus. Before joining the ADE team in September 2018, Benton served as an assistant professor in educational leadership at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, a position he held since 2009. He also has been the director of the Hot Springs Technology Institute since 1998 and founded Schools Without Walls, which provides professional development for technology leaders and educators, in 2010. He previously served as the director of technology and information, information technology security officer/disaster recovery, technology plan developer and E-Rate coordinator at the Hot Springs School District. Benton has a Bachelor of Science in Education (Vocational Business Education), a Master of Science in Education (P-12 Building Level Leadership) and an Education Specialist in District Level Leadership from Henderson State University. He is pursuing a Doctor of Education in Educational Technology from Boise State University in Idaho.

Arijit Sarkar

Director of Information Systems and Chief Information Officer
Arijit Sarkar serves as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Director of Information Systems for the Arkansas Department of Education. As CIO, Sarkar provides leadership and vision for the agency’s Office of Information Technology. Sarkar reports to the Deputy Commissioner, supervises five direct reports, and leads an Information Technology (IT) team of approximately 25 individuals. The primary responsibility of the office is to ensure new and continued availability of IT systems that are dependable, responsive and fully support the internal and external needs of the agency. Additionally, Sarkar provides executive leadership, direction and strategic vision to the agency in technology and information systems use and operations, strategies and program integrity. Sarkar, who has been serving as the director of information systems since 2012, assumed his additional role as CIO in November 2015. He has worked for ADE since 2008 and was an information systems business analyst from 2008 to 2010 and an information systems coordinator from 2010 to 2012. Before oining the department, Sarkar was a graduate research assistant at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 2006 to 2008.

Lori Freno

General Counsel

Lori Freno became the department’s general counsel July 1, 2016. As general counsel, Freno oversees the Office of Legal Services, which ensures agency compliance with federal and state laws; advises the commissioner and State Board of Education regarding policies and legislation; oversees the agency’s rule-making process; and manages litigation. Prior to becoming general counsel, Freno served as the department’s deputy general counsel for three years and worked for the Attorney General’s Office for 15 years as both an assistant and senior assistant attorney general. Her other work experience included serving as a general attorney for the Panama Canal Commission in the Republic of Panama for two years and in private practice for four years in Cincinnati, Ohio. Freno graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Akron, Ohio, and received a Juris Doctor from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Tina Smith

Policy and Special Projects Director
Tina Smith assumed her role as the policy and special projects director July 1, 2016. In this role, Smith will research education policy initiatives. She also will manage special projects, including methods to improve efficiency, development of Arkansas’ Every Student Succeeds Act plan and stakeholder engagement regarding ESSA. Prior to joining ADE, Smith was a leadership coach for the Arkansas Public School Resource Center and served as a curriculum administrator, high school counselor, junior high school counselor and social studies teacher at the Ozark School District. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Arkansas Tech University at Russellville, Ark., and a Master in Education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Ark. Smith has a counselor certification from John Brown University at Siloam Springs, Ark., and a curriculum certification from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Ark. 

Kimberly Friedman

Director of Communications

Friedman joined the department as the director of communications in August 2013. In her position, she coordinates agency internal and external communication efforts. She previously served as the communications director for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, a position she held for 12 years. She also worked as a reporter for The Pine Bluff Commercial and as a page designer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Friedman received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Central Arkansas at Conway and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She grew up in DeWitt, located in southeast Arkansas.

Michelle Griffin

Legislative Service Director

Griffin has served the department for over 25 years in various capacities. As legislative services director, she’s the agency’s liaison with legislative staff, helping facilitate meetings and information requests. She began in that role during  the school funding debates of 2003 and has also had positions in the Department’s legal office, personnel office and with instructional services. A native of Little Rock, Griffin has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a master’s from Webster University.

Anthony Owen

State Director of Computer Science Education

Owen serves as the leader of the computer science initiative in Arkansas. He coordinates with Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Computer Science Task Force to identify the state’s computer science and technology needs. Owen began working at ADE in 2011 as the K-12 math and computer science curriculum specialist. He has worked as a math and science teacher at Sheridan High School and has taught math at Gurdon High School, Goza Middle School at Arkadelphia and England High School. Owen received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor in Education and Computer Science and a Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership from Henderson State University at Arkadelphia. He has a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law.

State Standards

Learn more about the standards that define the knowledge and skills Arkansas students should have in order to be ready for college and careers.

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Licensure & Certification

Find critical information about renewing Arkansas educator licenses, adding areas of licensure, licensing by reciprocity from other states, background checks and more.

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