Meet Your WDMCS School Board Candidates (10/3/2023)
Oct. 3, 2023 | School board elections for West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) will be held this year on Tuesday, Nov. 7. There are four seats on the ballot.
The WDMCS Board of Education represents the families and citizens of our community. In the West Des Moines Community Schools, school board members are elected at-large, which means they represent the entire school district. Each school board member is elected for a term of four years. Terms are staggered to ensure continuity of leadership. Board members do not receive any compensation for their service.
Public School Board Candidate Forum
The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce invites you to meet the candidates at a School Board Candidate Forum on Monday, Oct. 16, from 5:30-7 p.m. The forum will be held at the WDMCS Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines and will be livestreamed on the WDMCS YouTube Channel. Please CLICK HERE to submit your questions in advance. The Chamber will not take questions at the event due to time constraints.
Candidate Information (listed in alphabetical order)
The filing period for school board candidates ended at 5 p.m. on Sept. 21. The following individuals filed nomination papers:
Michael Andreski, Ph.D., MBA, serves as an associate professor of social and administrative pharmacy at Drake University, where he teaches management, law, and ethics, and healthcare entrepreneurship to third-year students. Michael worked as a pharmacist and manager for 20 years before returning to school to complete a Ph.D. in pharmacy management. Michael also holds a master’s degree in jurisprudence and supervises pharmacy students who serve as legislative interns. Michael is a member of the West Des Moines Community Schools Foundation Board of Directors. Michael attended WDMCS starting in second grade.This summer, he coordinated his 45th class reunion at Valley. Michael's youngest son also graduated from Valley.
Laurie Beilstein serves as a lead business execution consultant at Wells Fargo where she helps create and implement strategic plans to solve complex problems and implement change. Laurie received a B.A. from the University of Iowa and doctor of jurisprudence from Chicago Kent College of Law. She grew up in West Des Moines and is a proud graduate of Valley High School. Laurie chose West Des Moines as the place to raise and educate her kids. Her daughter, Hope, is a freshman at Valley Southwoods and her son, Leo, is in sixth grade at Westridge Elementary. Laurie is an active member of Lutheran Church of Hope, where she has served as a young women’s small group leader since 2016.
Jeff Hicks (Incumbent) is the chief compliance officer for Principal Financial Group’s retirement and income solutions business areas. 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. Jeff and his wife, Kim, have two children: Hailey, a 2023 WDMCS graduate and current freshman at the University of Northern Iowa, and Logan, a junior at Valley High School.
Jill Caton Johnson (Incumbent), 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 School of Inquiry (formerly Crestview Elementary). She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Iowa, followed by her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction, literacy education from the University of Minnesota. Jill 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.
Elizabeth Larson is a grant writer at Hinton Consulting. She writes grants for several different non-profits that serve low-income, BIPOC youth and homeless women in the areas of mental health, self and career exploration, and addiction recovery. As a former full-time high school math teacher, Elizabeth continues to substitute in WDMCS. Elizabeth volunteers on the district’s School Improvement Advisory Committee and Community Education Advisory Council. In addition, Elizabeth has also volunteered at Westridge Elementary and Indian Hills Junior High. Elizabeth’s three children are currently in sixth, ninth, and 10th grade. When Elizabeth decided to move to the Des Moines metro, she chose WDMCS for its reputation of academic excellence and wide selection of extra programs offered both during and after school.
Teri Patrick works for a nonprofit focused on financial literacy for K-12. She’s a business analyst with a background in leadership, project management, business analytics, and budget management. Teri has one child currently in WDMCS.
Aaron Sewell serves as a sixth grade social studies teacher in the Waukee Community School District. He’s served on the West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission for eight years. Aaron completed his practicum and student teaching experiences in WDMCS while obtaining his elementary education degree from Iowa State University. He has been a substitute teacher for WDMCS.
Scott White is a former insurance executive who retired from the property and casualty insurance industry in 2018. Scott coached his son’s youth soccer team for five years and volunteers with Iowa Radio Reading Information Service (IRIS) reading for the vision impaired. He and his wife, K. Michelle, recently celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary. They have two adult children who attended WDMCS. Their granddaughter is a third grade student in the district.
Current WDMCS Board of Education members Liz Cox and Lonnie Dafney are not seeking re-election.
How to Vote in the School Board Election
Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m
Please see the following websites for additional information: