Members

2017Board CoxPresident Liz Cox

1233 24th St.
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
Phone 515-360-7473
Email LizCoxWDMCS@gmail.com

 

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.

Elected: September 2015
Term Expires: November 2023


Board member Jennifer Ulie-Wells, Ph.D., in 2018.Vice President Jennifer Ulie-Wells, Ph.D.

508 25th St.
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Phone 515-240-5471
Email jlwells1205@gmail.com

 

Jennifer Ulie-Wells is executive director of Please Pass the Love, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing school-based mental health supports. She is an adjunct professor of education at Drake University and previously taught special education at Western Hills Elementary, Hillside Elementary, and Indian Hills Junior High. Ulie-Wells holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in special education from Drake University. She received a doctoral degree in education, social justice, and infant and youth mental health from Iowa State University. Ulie-Wells has two children: Mia is a junior at Valley High School, and Riley is an eighth-grader at Stilwell Junior High.

Elected: September 2017
Term Expires: November 2021


2019-20 Board member headshot of Elizabeth Brennan. Elizabeth Brennan

804 38th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Phone 515-222-6920
Email ejcb@me.com

 

Elizabeth Brennan is a preschool teacher at Montessori Children’s House in West Des Moines. She graduated from Valley High School and St. Olaf College. She earned her elementary teaching degree, with an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement, from the University of Iowa and her International Diploma in early childhood Montessori teaching from the Montessori Centre International in London. Brennan and her husband, Scott, have two children: Lexi graduated from Valley High School in 2014, and Joe graduated from Valley High School in 2016.

Elected: September 2009
Term Expires: November 2021


Board member Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D., in 2018.Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D.

213 South 31st Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Phone 515-271-3992
Email jill.johnson@drake.edu 

 

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 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 a senior and CJ is a junior at Valley High School. Johnson is also a member of the United Way Education Cabinet.

Elected: September 2015
Term Expires: November 2023


Board member Lonnie Dafney in 2019.Lonnie Dafney

4400 E.P. True Parkway, Unit 18
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Phone 515-225-7033
Email Ldafney@msn.com

 

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.

Elected: November 2019
Term Expires: November 2023


Board member Jeff Hicks in 2019.Jeff Hicks

2800 Sylvania Drive
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
Phone 515-9918890
Email 4hicks@gmail.com

 

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.

Elected: November 2019
Term Expires: November 2023


Board member Dr. Vicky Poole in 2019.Vicky Poole, Ed.D.

14180 Pinnacle Pointe Drive
Clive, Iowa 50325
Phone 515-240-2707
Email vickypoole.wdm@gmail.com

 

Vicky Poole, Ed.D., is retired from the West Des Moines Community Schools, where she served as principal of Valley High School (2000–11) and as associate principal (1996–2000). She holds a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Northern Iowa, a master’s degree in counseling education from Northwest Missouri State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Drake University. She enjoyed many years of teaching chemistry and physics and serving as counselor to thousands of students. Poole and her husband, Jim (deceased), have two adult children: Jodi (Matthew) Bybee and Dr. James (Meredith) Poole, D.O., and six grandchildren. Poole served on a wide variety of school district committees while at Valley High School. Her community experience includes serving on the Clive Board of Adjustment, Clive Public Art Advisory Commission, Clive Citizen Review Committee, Simpson College Education Advisory Committee, and West Des Moines Leadership Academy Board. She also serves as a Hy-Vee Education Foundation Scholarship Adjudicator. During her tenure at Valley High School, Poole received The Leadership in Diversity Award from the Chinese Association of Iowa.

Elected: September 2013
Term Expires: November 2021