WDMCS School Board Election Results
School Board elections were held Tuesday, Nov. 5, throughout the state of Iowa.
In the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS), four seats were open and six candidates campaigned for election. Unofficial election returns show Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D., Liz Cox, Lonnette Dafney, and Jeff Hicks the winners of the election.
The new Board members will be sworn in at the annual/organization meeting on Monday, Nov. 25.
Meet Our Re-Elected and Newly Elected Board Members
Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D.
Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D., is a professor of education and director of off-campus teaching and learning programs at Drake University. She is a former fourth-grade teacher at Crestview Elementary (now School of Inquiry) in the West Des Moines Community Schools. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Iowa, and her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction, literacy education from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband, Tom, have two children: Jack is an 11th-grader and Caton is a 10th-grader at Valley High School. Johnson is also a member of the United Way Education Cabinet.
Liz Cox is the CEO of Polk County Health Services. This organization provides mental health services along with assistance to families with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Cox was the former executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Dakota and is a graduate of the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business where she completed the executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. She and Tom Cox are the parents of three children who all graduated from Valley High School. Megan is a 2014 graduate, Emma is a 2016 graduate, and Sam is a 2017 graduate. She has been active with the Boy Scouts of America’s Mid-Iowa Council, the Rotary Club of Des Moines A.M., and the Great Outdoors Foundation. Cox is also a graduate of the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy.
Lonnette Dafney is the vice president-director of human resources at Federal Home Loan Bank in Des Moines. She is a 15-year resident of West Des Moines and the proud mother of two amazing young men who graduated from WDMCS in 2013 and 2015, Darrin and Dominique. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business management administration from William Penn University. She was awarded the Wells Fargo Volunteer Service Award and is involved with or supports many organizations including the Isiserettes, West Des Moines Human Rights Commission (Commissioner), West Des Moines Historical Society (Board of Directors), Dress for Success Des Moines (Board of Directors), United Way of Central Iowa Women United (Advisory Committee/Engagement Chair), and the One Economy Employment Group Chair (Director’s Council). She is also a member of The Links, Inc., and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Jeff Hicks is the assistant general counsel for Principal Financial Group, focusing primarily on privacy, data security, and risk-related matters. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as an intelligence officer and attained the rank of corporal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Maryland, and a law degree from Drake University. He is involved with and supports United Way, the YMCA, and Iowa Legal Aid. He and his wife, Kim, have two children: Hailey, a ninth-grader at Valley Southwoods, and Logan, a seventh-grader at Stilwell Junior High School.
The WDMCS Board of Education is made up of seven members. In addition to those listed above, members also include Elizabeth Brennan, Vicky Poole, Ed.D, and Jennifer Ulie-Wells, Ph.D.
The School Board represents the parents and citizens of our community. The roles of the school board include:
- Set policy for the school district.
- Select an executive officer and delegate to that officer the authority for carrying out the policies, plans, and administrative details.
- Determine the operational efficiency of the schools not only in dollars and cents but also in the results of instruction.
At WDMCS, school board members are elected at-large, or represent the entire school district. They receive no compensation for their service. Each school board member is elected for a term of four years. Terms are staggered to ensure continuity of leadership.