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The Commissioner's Executive Team

Marcia Bohannon

Chief Information Officer

Ms. Bohannon has over 30 years of experience in providing technology services and solutions to internal and external customers in international and domestic settings. After beginning her career in aerospace engineering and providing engineering and technology services to NASA and Lockheed Martin, she provided project and senior leadership services from her home base in Australia for five years. After returning to the U.S., she provided senior technology leadership services in city, county and state government, and in small private sector technology and consulting firms. Her strengths lie in strategic business and technology planning/delivery, strong client relationship management, and building effective data and technology governance structures. Her business knowledge spans many industries, with a current primary focus on K-12 education.

Ms. Bohannon spent six years as the Chief Information Officer of Jefferson County School District, strengthening that organization's Information Technology department by transforming it into a true value-add service provider. She joined CDE in 2011, and was appointed CIO in early 2015. Her role within CDE includes oversight of internal information technology delivery functions, Data Privacy and Information Security programs, and the Data Service Unit that provides direct support of districts in the provision of data to CDE.


Floyd Cobb

Associate Commissioner of Student Learning

Dr. Floyd Cobb was appointed associate commissioner of student learning at the Colorado Department of Education in June 2022. Floyd has over 20 years in public education spanning the P-20 educational continuum.  He has held roles as a classroom teacher, school leader, and central office administrator with the last five at CDE as the executive director of the teaching and learning unit.

Before coming to the department, Floyd worked in the Cherry Creek school district holding numerous building leadership roles before becoming the executive director of curriculum and instruction.  Floyd has also been an adjunct faculty member at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.  In 2017, he was awarded the Ruth Murray Underhill Teaching Award for excellence in teaching which is given to one adjunct faculty member across the university. 

Dr. Cobb completed his undergraduate degree at Howard University and holds a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University. He completed his Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver.


Rhonda Haniford

Associate Commissioner of School Quality and Support

With 22 years of experience in public education, Dr. Rhonda Haniford has served students and communities in a variety of roles. Dr. Haniford served as Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Leadership in the Greeley-Evans School District for the past three and a half years. Before Greeley, she served as Principal of Centaurus High School in the Boulder Valley School District, where she had worked for nine years. She has also worked as an English Language Arts teacher, assistant principal and principal in school districts in both Missouri and Colorado.

Dr. Haniford has increased on-time graduation rates and decreased dropout rates in both her roles as principal and assistant superintendent. While principal, Dr. Haniford’s work led to a 98% on-time graduation rate. As an assistant superintendent, her work led to a significant increase in graduation rates. Through the launch of a shared strategic plan, Dr. Haniford collaborated with the greater community of school staff, industry leaders, colleges, and both city and county officials to develop career pathways for every student. She also led two school communities in re-envisioning student learning, timely feedback and mentor programs. Within two years both schools became Schools of Innovation and moved out of Turnaround, where they ranked for the previous seven years, to become schools of performance.

Dr. Haniford completed her undergraduate degree and Masters of School Administration degree at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville. Her Doctorate of Education is in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis University.


Scott D. Jones

Chief of Staff

Scott D. Jones has served as the Chief of Staff of the Colorado Department of Education since December 2022 where he leads the internal operations teams, the Strategic Recovery Office, and supports overall organizational strategy. He joined CDE as the Chief Strategic Recovery Officer in July 2021, bringing with him more than a decade of experience in education research, policy and administration. In this role, Scott lead the development and implementation of CDE’s cross-departmental COVID-19 education recovery plan in collaboration with other CDE leaders and staff in support of the state’s districts and schools as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

Before joining CDE, Scott served as assistant director of budget management for the University of Colorado Boulder where he led the financial management of the campus’ response to the coronavirus pandemic including day-to-day supervision of almost $150 million In federal relief funds. Prior to that, he was the senior manager of strategic planning and chief of staff to the associate chief of academics for Denver Public Schools where he managed district-wide academic initiatives. Before that, he worked for Education Commission of the States and the Council of Chief State School Officers in leveraging education policy and research to expand access for all students to engage in a well-rounded education.

Scott completed his undergraduate degree in music education at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and his graduate work at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington, Indiana, where he also chaired the city commission on the arts.

 


 

Jennifer Okes

Chief School Operations Officer

Jennifer Okes has worked for the State of Colorado since 1990 and loves serving Colorado’s school districts and the citizens of this great state. She has been at CDE since 2013 and oversees the Division of School District Operations, which includes four Units: Capital Construction, School Finance and Grants, School Nutrition and School Transportation.  

Prior to joining CDE, Jennifer was the deputy executive director for the Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration, where she worked to improve the financial management and overall culture of the department. She has also worked at the Governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting, where she oversaw statewide budgeting and common policies; the Colorado Department of Human Services-Information Technology Services, where she served as financial services manager and implemented a system development life cycle methodology; and the Office of the State Auditor, where she evaluated programs as a performance auditor.

Jennifer was born and raised in Denver and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in finance.


Colleen O'Neil

Associate Commissioner of Educator Talent

Dr. Colleen O'Neil has served education for over 25 years as an educator, instructional designer and educational leader. Serving in the division of educator talent, she leads the offices of educator recruitment, preparation and development, educator licensing and enforcement, educator effectiveness, and early childhood workforce development. As an education advocate who values educators and strong educational systems for every student, she can often be found recruiting, teaching or presenting to potential educators, pre-service educators, and in-service educators about the ins and outs of teaching and learning.

Colleen began her career in one of her favorite roles as a middle and high school English teacher in Guernsey, Wyoming and Windsor, Colorado. Crossing her skills between public education and corporate education, Colleen has served as graduate faculty for the University of Virginia in the School of Education and Development and as a chief learning officer for an eLearning company.  She also has worked in the Greeley-Evans School District as the chief human resource officer, the director of K-8 school leadership, an elementary school administrator and the director of strategic planning. Prior to her current work with CDE, Colleen was the director of curriculum, career and technical education for the South Dakota Department of Education, where she facilitated the work of three offices focused on strong, connected, relevant learning that prepares all students for the next steps into their careers.  

Colleen earned a bachelor of arts from Colorado State University at Pueblo (formerly University of Southern Colorado), a master's from the University of Northern Colorado, an educational specialist degree from the University of Colorado at Denver and her doctoral degree from Bethel University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Additionally, Colleen maintains active Colorado teacher, principal and superintendent licenses.


Alyssa Pearson

Deputy Commissioner

Alyssa Pearson is the deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Education, overseeing implementation of the department's strategic plan and work with the state board, legislature and external partners. She also leads the Student Pathways, State Library and Legislative Relations & Policy teams. Alyssa has worked at the Colorado Department of Education since 2003 and formerly served as the associate commissioner for Accountability, Performance and Support.

During her time at CDE, Alyssa has also supported Title I programs, coordinated and led the No Child Left Behind accountability and data reporting requirements, written a successful proposal to the U.S. Department of Education for approval for use of the Colorado Growth Model for federal accountability, and ensured approval of the state's ESEA waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. She has enjoyed working with internal and external partners to continually improve the work of CDE and ensure that data is used securely, responsibly and effectively in order to improve our state education system.

Prior to her time at CDE, Alyssa taught fifth graders in Denver Public Schools. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and an elementary education certification from the University of Colorado at Boulder as well as a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Emma Garrett-Nelson

Chief Communications Officer

Emma Garrett-Nelson is the Chief Communications Officer at the Colorado Department of Education overseeing the department’s internal and external communications, public relations and media engagement, and digital platforms. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly 20 years with a focus on public education for the last decade.

Prior to joining the CDE team, Garrett-Nelson worked as the chief of staff at Washoe County School District, the second-largest district in Nevada with 60,000 students and 7,000 employees. In that role, she helped to lead first-year implementation of the district’s strategic plan and supported while building systems and structures to strengthen organizational readiness and accountability.

Prior to Washoe County, Garrett-Nelson spent eight years leading strategic communications at Tulsa Public Schools, the largest public school district in the State of Oklahoma serving 33,000 students in grades pre-K-12. She managed communications and public relations for the district during the 2018 Oklahoma teacher walkout, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2021 Bond for Tulsa Public Schools, a $415 million package that passed with 73% voter support.

Prior to Tulsa, Garrett-Nelson worked in the Office of the Commissioner at the Rhode Island Department of Education; Gordon School, a progressive independent school serving students in nursery-8th grades; and was the lead field organizer for the successful campaign to pass marriage equality legislation in the State of Rhode Island. 

Garrett-Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Temple University and a master’s degree in administrative leadership from the University of Oklahoma. 


Joyce Zurkowski

Chief Assessment Officer

Joyce Zurkowski has been responsible for overseeing the state assessment program since 2010, including Colorado's transition to online assessment. Prior to joining CDE, she served in a similar position in Illinois, after serving as a contractor for their alternate assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Previously, Joyce taught education- and assessment-related masters-level courses at the University of Missouri while doing advanced study in special education and research/measurement at the University of Kansas. She has experience in providing appropriate interventions and supports to students and adults with disabilities as both an educator and consultant. Throughout her career in education, Joyce has been committed to improving access and opportunity for all students. She draws upon her combination of state, vendor and classroom experience, as well as her familiarity with special populations, as she considers assessment development and administration in Colorado. Joyce is a member of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) Policy Task Force and has been a frequent presenter at state and national conferences on assessment-related issues.

Joyce holds degrees in philosophy and special education from St. Norbert College and University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. She has also completed doctoral-level coursework in special education and measurement at the University of Kansas.


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