Texas Association of School Boards Elects New Officers

For Release: September 27, 2019
Contact: Theresa Gage, 512.467.3564, theresa.gage-dieringer@tasb.org
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(Austin)—The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) elected its 2019–20 officers during the Association’s recent annual Delegate Assembly and Convention in Dallas. New TASB President Lee Lentz-Edwards of Kermit Independent School District (ISD) succeeds Immediate Past President James de Garavilla of Silsbee ISD. Jim Rice of Fort Bend ISD now serves as president-elect. First vice-president is Ted Beard of Longview ISD, and second vice-president is Debbie Gillespie of Frisco ISD. Bob Covey of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD serves as secretary-treasurer.

Lee Lentz-Edwards, President
Lentz-Edwards is serving her 14th year on the Kermit ISD board of trustees. A 2013 Leadership TASB graduate, she is currently in her fifth term as president of her local board, having served previously as secretary for several years.

She is a graduate of Sul Ross State University with a bachelor of business administration, master of education, and master of business administration. She has a long tenure in the field of education. Currently, she is a special education coordinator at the Region 18 Education Service Center.

Lentz-Edwards has been active in her community, having served as a leader in both Girl Scouts and 4-H, a Sunday school teacher at her church and a member of the Kermit Rotary Club, where she held the positions of secretary and president. She has been honored as a Woman of Distinction by the Permian Basin Girl Scout Association, Outstanding Adult 4-H Leader District VI, and Kermit Woman of the Year.

Jim Rice, President-Elect
Rice joined the Fort Bend ISD board in May 2010. He was elected board secretary in June 2011 and board president in 2012, serving two consecutive terms in that office. Elected to the TASB Board of Directors in 2012, he chaired the Legislative Committee during the recent 86th legislative session and during the 84th session. He also has served on the Nominations and Planning and Development committees. He is a 2014 graduate of Leadership TASB.

Rice is president of Rice and Gardner Consultants, Inc., an engineering and construction management firm. In addition to his professional duties, he currently serves as the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce’s Education Division vice-chair and is a 2005 graduate of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Forum Class.

He also is involved in numerous civic organizations for Fort Bend, including Fort Bend Cares, the Fort Bend Literacy Council, the Fort Bend P16 Regional Council, and the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council. Rice is cofounder of the charity Fort Bend Cares, which benefits underprivileged youth in the community.

Ted Beard, First Vice-President
Beard was elected to the Longview ISD board in 1998 and has served in various capacities, including assistant secretary, vice-president, and twice as president.

He is a retired sergeant major from the United States Army and a combat veteran of Desert Shield/Storm, where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He also served in combat in Iraqi Freedom.

Beard earned a bachelor’s in human services from LeTourneau University and now works as a claims representative and a collateral duty equal employment opportunity counselor for the Social Security Administration.

Beard was appointed to the TASB Risk Management Fund Board in November 2007 and currently serves as chair. He is a 2012 graduate of Leadership TASB and an Honorary Life Member of PTA. He also is a member of the Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members, where he has served as president.

Debbie Gillespie, Second Vice-President
Gillespie was first elected to the Frisco ISD board in 2011 and is the current board secretary. After graduating from Southwest Texas State University, she worked in interior design and fashion merchandising before accepting a job at Dell Corporation, where she worked in customer service, configuration management, and policy and procedures. Upon moving to Frisco with her family in 1995, she became an active community volunteer.

Gillespie has been involved with Frisco Family Services; Frisco ISD Council of PTAs; PTA board, serving as an officer; PTO board, serving as an officer; Frisco High School Band Boosters, serving as an officer; Starwood Neighborhood Association; and National Charity League, serving as an officer. She also was an officer for the Young Men’s Service League, which allowed her to participate in organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, Shoes for Orphan Souls, Operation Kindness, Susan G. Komen, Prison Ministries, North Texas Food Pantry, and Frisco Miracle League.

She is an active volunteer with Frisco Fastpacs and Frisco Women’s League and a vocal advocate in legislative agendas for several local organizations, but most passionate about public education for all students in Texas.

She is a 2014 graduate of Leadership TASB (LTASB), a member of the LTASB Alumni Association, and an Honorary Life Member of PTA.

Bob Covey, Secretary-Treasurer
Covey has served on his local board, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, for 14 years and held the positions of president, vice-president, and secretary. A Leadership TASB graduate and Master Trustee, he is a director of the Gulf Coast Area Association of School Boards.

Active at the local level, he is a member of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce and has participated in the district’s athletic and chorale booster clubs, bus buddy program, and Read Across America initiatives. Each semester for the past 14 years, he has lectured about school board governance to junior education majors at the Texas State University College of Education. Covey is founder and president of Go Public Gulf Coast. He also is active in Impact with the Harris County Department of Education and Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church, where he has been a member for more than 30 years.

Covey earned his bachelor’s degree at Texas State University and has held numerous leadership positions with the university’s alumni association. He retired from American Alloy Steel, Inc., after serving 35 years with the company. His retirement was short-lived when American Alloy Steel asked him to reactivate his role with the company; he resumed working in sales seven years ago.

James de Garavilla, Immediate Past President
De Garavilla has served as a trustee on the Silsbee ISD board since 2006, including various leadership roles from committee chair to board president. He is a 2008 graduate of Leadership TASB (LTASB) and a member of the LTASB Alumni Association. He completed Leadership Southeast Texas in 2009. 

He joined the TASB Board in 2009 representing Region 5. He has served on each of the Board’s standing committees, chairing the Legislative Committee during the 83rd and 85th Texas legislative sessions. He became an officer of the Board in 2016. Prior to joining the TASB Board, he was active in the grassroots advocacy process and served as a regional representative to the TASB Legislative Advisory Council and as a delegate to the Delegate Assembly.

Professionally, de Garavilla is a principal research scientist at Dow and holds several patents in his field of ethylene copolymers. Throughout a 35-year career, he has held a variety of technical, business, and marketing roles. De Garavilla is a native of Massachusetts and a product of public schools. He graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a degree in chemical engineering before moving to southeast Texas in 1984.

TASB is a nonprofit association established in 1949 to serve public school boards. School board members are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they represent serve more than 5.4 million public school students. For more information on TASB, visit tasb.org.

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Lee Lentz-Edwards
Jim Rice
Ted Beard
First Vice-President
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Debbie Gillespie
Second Vice-President
Bob Covey
James de Garavilla
Immediate Past President