Governor names first-ever education secretary, equity officer

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced Nov. 19 that Dr. Katie Jenner will serve as Indiana’s first-ever secretary of education and Karrah A. Herring will serve as Indiana’s first-ever chief equity, inclusion and opportunity officer.

“This is an incredibly important time for education in Indiana. Dr. Katie Jenner has focused her entire career on investing in students, teachers and staff, and she will continue to build the relationships needed to move our state forward in constructive ways,” Holcomb said. “As Indiana’s Secretary of Education, Dr. Jenner’s certification, work at nearly every level of education and her remarkable depth of experience will lead our state into this exciting next chapter.”

Jenner

Jenner, whose new role begins Dec. 11, currently serves as Holcomb’s senior education advisor. Her first position in K-12 public education was as a Career and Technical Education teacher in Kentucky beginning in 2005. From 2009 to 2018, she worked for Madison Consolidated Schools in Indiana as a school administrator and district administrator. In 2018 she joined Ivy Tech Community College as vice president of K-12 Initiatives and Statewide Partnerships, where she built statewide college strategies among K-12 schools, career centers, and Ivy Tech.

Jenner earned her undergraduate degree from Transylvania University, her master’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky, an MBA from Indiana State University and her doctorate of education from the University of Kentucky.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to further serve the people of Indiana,” Jenner said. “My priorities are to ensure high quality education for all students and families, and to provide solution-focused support for our teachers and educational leaders. We have great opportunity ahead in Indiana, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and work hand in hand with students, educators and stakeholder partners across the state.”

Initially in her new role as secretary of education, Jenner will focus on the following: 

  • support schools through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Provide successful education experiences so student learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic and improves throughout the recovery; 
  • Provide all students with personalized pathways to prepare them for lifelong success; and lead a top-notch team that supports schools as they provide opportunities for students to prepare for their next step in education, training, military service, or direct employment. Close collaboration will be built with local communities, families and stakeholders across Indiana’s full education continuum.
  • Champion the educator profession: Attract talented Hoosiers to the teaching profession by working closely with Indiana’s schools of education, K-12 school leaders, local communities and Indiana employers to make teaching a more diverse, competitive and fulfilling profession. Great teachers help ensure the long-term health, success and economic security of our state.
  • Cultivate a future-ready education system: Maximize the Department of Education’s support and service to schools by creating a dynamic, flexible and data-driven network that supports learning-focused innovation, informs teachers’ professional development, and equips students with the skills needed to succeed in the future.

Herring

Regarding Herring, Holcomb said: “My goal is to better build diversity and foster an inclusive environment within state government and the services we provide so every Hoosier can take full advantage of their gifts and potential. Karrah will guide every state agency with her impressive experience at one of our state’s world-renowned universities.”

Herring currently serves as the director of public affairs for the University of Notre Dame, where she has worked since 2011. From 2014 until 2018, she served on Notre Dame’s Human Resource’s Senior Leadership Team as director of the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX coordinator. In this role, Herring provided oversight and support of the university’s efforts to comply with federal and state civil rights laws related to policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Herring created Notre Dame’s affirmative action plans, had oversight of employee disability compliance for the campus, and oversaw workplace investigations falling under Title VII and Title IX.

Herring earned her undergraduate degree from Purdue University and her law degree from Valparaiso University.

She will focus on improving state government operations as well as drive systemic change to remove hurdles in the government workplace and services the state provides. Herring will help agencies develop strategic plans to remove any barriers. As a member of the governor’s cabinet, Herring will report directly to the governor.

Herring starts her new role on Feb. 1, 2021.

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