Board Overview

  • The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education is here to serve you and govern the school district. The school board is made up of seven individuals representing the families and citizens of our community.

    • The members are elected at-large by residents of our district community.
    • 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.
    • Elections are held bi-annually in odd-numbered years on the second Tuesday in November.

Board of Education


    Board of Education member Jeff Hicks.President Jeff Hicks

    Phone 515-991-8890 | Email

    Jeff Hicks is an assistant general counsel for Principal Financial Group. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as an intelligence officer and attained the rank of Captain. 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 sophomore at Valley High School and Logan, an eighth-grader at Stilwell Junior High School.

    Elected: November 2019
    Term Expires: November 2023

    Lila P. Montoya Starr Board of Education headshot (Nov. 2021).Vice President Lila P. Montoya Starr

    Phone: 515-457-7243, email:

    Lila P. Montoya Starr has worked as a licensed social worker and mental health specialist with the Iowa Department of Human Services for over 35 years. She is a graduate of the Waverly-Shell Rock public school system and earned her bachelor’s degree in speech/interpersonal communications from the University of Northern Iowa. Lila and her husband, Tony Montoya, are the proud parents of two amazing young men, Antonio and Wesley, who graduated from Valley in 2011 and 2015. Lila currently serves as secretary to two national professional organizations and is a frequent presenter on topics associated with mental health, disabilities, and long-term care. A lifelong learner and community activist, Lila has lived with her family in Clive since 1997. She represented Crestview, Indian Hills, Valley Southwoods, Valley, and the community at large on the WDMCS Community Education Advisory Committee for many years. 

    Elected: November 2021
    Term Expires: November 2025

    Board of Education member Liz Cox (past president).Liz Cox

    Phone 515-360-7473 | Email

    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

    2020-21 Board of Education Vice President Lonnette Dafney

    Lonnie Dafney

    Phone 515-225-7033 | Email:

    Lonnette Dafney is the Assistant Vice-President-Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion at EMC Insurance Companies in Des Moines. She is a 16-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.

    Elected: November 2019
    Term Expires: November 2023

    Board of Education headshot of Board member Fannette Elliott.Fannette Elliott

    Phone 515-223-4047 | Email

    Fannette Elliott is the senior associate midmarket communications leader for Mercer. She is a 30+ year resident of West Des Moines and started her education at Phoenix Elementary, then continued in the Des Moines school system. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in English from Iowa State University. She has nieces and nephews who attend Hillside Elementary, Western Hills Elementary, Stilwell Junior High, Valley Southwoods Freshman High School, and Valley High School. She is involved and an active member of various committees at work and in the community, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, was a mentor in the school-based Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She has also served on Student Improvement Advisory Committee and co-founded the Families of Students of Color support group.

    Elected: November 2021
    Term Expires: November 2025

    Board of Education member Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D.Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D.

    Phone 515-271-3992 | Email

    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, a 2020 Valley graduate, is a junior at the University of Iowa, and Catie, a 2021 Valley graduate, is a sophomore at Drake University.

    Elected: September 2015
    Term Expires: November 2023

    Anadelia Morgan Board of Education headshot (Nov. 2021).Anadelia Morgan

    Phone 402-403-8121 | Email

    Anadelia Morgan is a part-time festival event food coordinator and event manager for Cinco de Mayo Omaha. She has a background in federal grant management and community organization. Her military family lives in West Des Moines with two children attending schools in the district. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in Chicano/a-Latino/a studies from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Anadelia has volunteered at WDMCS in various roles and served on Student Improvement Advisory Committee. She also co-founded the Families of Students of Color support group.

    Elected: November 2021
    Term Expires: November 2025

    Student Board Representative Alexandra Bylund headshot Student Representative Alexandra Bylund 

    Alexandra Bylund is a Valley High School senior serving as a student representative on the WDMCS School Board. She represents Valley in National Honor Society, Iowa High School Speech Association, Silver Cord, Young Feminists Club, International Thespian Society, Vocal Point Jazz Choir, and A Capella Choir. She also serves as the vice president of Tri-M Musical Honor Society, which combines orchestra, choir, and band. Her family includes parents Mindy and Jacob Bylund and three sisters. 

    To be sworn in: September 2023
    Term expires: May 2024

    Student Board Representative Riley Spellman headshot Student Representative Riley Spellman

    Riley Spellman is a senior at Valley High School serving on the WDMCS School Board. She has been in the district for 12 years, attending Westridge Elementary and Indian Hills Junior High. She has participated in Valley girls' swimming, cross country, track and field, and Young Feminist Club, and is a Miss America's Outstanding Teen contestant. Her family includes her parents, Sean and Courtney Spellman, and three younger siblings.

    To be sworn in: September 2023
    Term expires: May 2024


  • Board Secretary

    Peggy Epstein



    Learn more about school board elections by visiting the websites listed below.

  • Contacting Board Members

    If you wish to communicate with a Board member:

    All regular board meetings include an open forum. Individuals can either sign up the night of the Board meeting or email Peggy Epstein, board secretary, to be included on the list of individuals to speak. During open forum, each speaker must state their name and address and has up to five minutes to speak. Due to open meeting laws, the Board will listen but is unable to respond.

    When regular Board meetings are held virtually, open forum comments can be emailed to Peggy Epstein, board secretary. She will provide printed copies to Board members.

    You can also email the entire Board, but board president will respond to any emails on behalf of the entire board.

Last Modified on August 25, 2023