About Us

Arizona Professional Educators (AZPE) was founded on a philosophy that emphasizes Professional Excellence, Cooperation, Personal Excellence, Local Control, Right-To-Learn, and Freedom to Teach.

All organizational activities and decisions are based on this philosophy and grounded in our commitment to empower teachers to achieve excellence.

Our Mission

The Arizona Professional Educators is a membership association for education professionals that encourages and promotes fairness, democracy, economic opportunity, and high-quality public education.

Meet Our Board and Leadership

The AZPE Board of Directors serve to guide the organization through the leadership of the Executive Director. Board members must be members with at least 1 year of membership. All directors follow the Board Director job description. When considering new board members we look for enthusiasm for the organization's mission and vision, leadership experience and a true commitment in supporting our Arizona educators. The AZPE board also seeks to diversify our directors by selecting members who represent a cross-section of our membership, including regional members, diversity in life experience, background, educational experience and much more.  Learn more by visiting here.


Janelle has been a teacher in AZ since 1991.  She holds degrees from both ASU and NAU, and is National Board Certified.  She currently works part-time for a large elementary school district in Phoenix, and teaches part-time for NAU.  She has spent her entire professional life working to improve education in Arizona.  

MARY SCHUETT, Board Member

I have been an elementary educator for over 20 years, serving several terms as both an AZPE Board Member, and Peoria CTA Chapter Director. I believe educators deserve to be treated as professionals, and have the resources to allow them be even more successful in the classroom. 


LeeAnn has been in education since 1976. She's lived in Arizona for 16 years, teaching in the Peoria Union School District. She's also been a member of AZPE for 15 years, serving as a leader of the Peoria Affiliate (Peoria Classroom Teachers Association) taught in Peoria school district. She is married with two children and five grandchildren. LeeAnn enjoys family time, church, and reading.   

KEN SIMMONS, Board Member

Ken grew up in West Texas. Alongside his three brothers, he spent summers working cotton fields for his grandfather in central Texas. Upon graduating HS, he spent 5 months hitch-hiking and backpacking through the western U.S before joining the Air Force in 1977. After his military service, he went on to receive his BA in science education from ASU. He has been married to his wife, Chris, for 38 years, taught science for 30 years, and served as president of the Professional Educators in his district for 12 years.  He  travels as often as possible, loves to bird-watch and explore nature, play 4-wall racquetball, read science fiction, and go to great concerts.


Carrie Kuitunen is a retired special educator from the Washington Elementary School District.  Carrie holds a Master’s in Education and is a Certified Paralegal.  Carrie is enjoying her retirement in Northern Arizona but continues to work with special needs children and adults.  Carrie also spends time working with her horses and gardening. 


Michelle McCormick has been in education for over 30 years, as a teacher and an instructional coach. She currently works for a large district in Phoenix. She believes in public education and the teachers who are in those classrooms. She is a strong advocate for public education.





Scott Soldat-Valenzuela, Executive Director

With 20 years of non-profit leadership, management and experience, Scott serves at the part-time Executive Director of AZPE. He thoroughly enjoys board development, creating strategic partnerships, finance, member engagement, marketing and overall non-profit association management. While serving several membership associations during his career he, along with a dedicated team, have been able to expand membership, revenue, partnerships and, most importantly, member value. Scott's education includes a Master's in Management from University of Phoenix. 

Board Elections

The AZPE Board of Directors serves to represent the organization throughout Arizona. Board members are suggested to have local, regional or state leadership experience. However, a mission-driven educator who is passionate about serving our members would also be an excellent board candidate.

Leadership, governance and oversight, including the following:

  • Serving as a trusted advisor to the Executive Director as s/he develops and implements AZPE’s strategic plan.
  • Reviewing outcomes and metrics created by AZPE for evaluating its impact, and regularly measuring its performance and effectiveness using those metrics; reviewing agenda and supporting materials prior to board and committee meetings.
  • Approving AZPE’s annual budget, audit reports, and material business decisions; being informed of, and meeting all, legal and fiduciary responsibilities.
  • Contributing to an annual performance evaluation of the ED directed and delivered by the President of the Board.
  • Collaborating with the ED and board chair in identifying and recruiting other Board Members.
  • Partnering with the ED and other board members to ensure that board resolutions are carried-out.
  •  Serving on committees or task forces and taking on special assignments.
  • Representing AZPE to stakeholders; acting as an ambassador for the organization.
  • Ensuring AZPE’s commitment to a diverse board and staff that reflects the communities AZPE serves.

AZPE Board Members will consider AZPE a priority and contribute resources and/or influence reflecting that priority. So that the AZPE can credibly solicit contributions from foundations, organizations, and individuals, the AZPE expects to have 100 percent of Board Members make an annual contribution that is commensurate with their capacity.

Board terms/participation
AZPE’s Board Members will serve a two year term to be eligible for re-appointment for two additional terms according to the most recently revised version of the Bylaws. Board meetings will be held bi-monthly and committee meetings will be held based on a mutually agreed upon schedule. All Board members must participate in a Board Orientation program annually or as provided by the Board Development committee.

Any interested member should contact a board member or the executive director for. more information.