Tom Gentzel, the Executive Director and CEO of the National School Boards Association, is an unabashed advocate for public education and the community leadership essential to its success. He has worked on behalf of, and advocated for, school boards and effective local governance for more than 35 years.
In his leadership role at NSBA, Tom heads a staff of nearly 80 persons and serves a membership comprised of state associations of school boards and their more than 13,000-member school districts. Tom is the primary spokesperson for NSBA, represents its interests in various forums, and is a frequent presenter at conferences and events across the country.
NSBA’s mission is to work with and through state school boards associations to advocate for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. Headquartered in Alexandria, VA, NSBA represents the school board perspective in Congress, federal government agencies, the courts, and to national organizations that impact education, and promotes the achievements of public education and the role of school boards through an extensive public advocacy role. Tom joined NSBA in 2012, becoming the organization’s sixth chief executive since it was founded in 1940.
Prior to NSBA, Tom served as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association for 11 years. His career at PSBA started in 1980 as a lobbyist and, five years later, he was named head of the association’s Office of Governmental and Member Relations, a position he held for more than 16 years. He became PSBA’s CEO in 2001, directing a staff of 150 persons who provided publications, conferences and seminars, as well as insurance programs, management and legal assistance, and advocacy services for local school officials.
Tom represents NSBA on the Strategic Council of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P-21), and on the board of the Learning First Alliance, a coalition consisting of 13 of the nation’s leading education organizations, serving as the group’s 2016-17 chair. He is a former chair of the Organization of State Association Executive Directors and previously served as an officer for the National School Public Relations Association and as a member of the Outreach Advisory Board for The Pennsylvania State University. Tom was appointed by Gov. Tom Ridge (R) and reappointed twice by Gov. Edward Rendell (D) to the Pennsylvania State Advisory Panel on Special Education. In 2009, he was named by the governor to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Council. He previously chaired the Pennsylvania Coalition for Public Education and was founder and coordinator of the Alliance for a School Aid Partnership. He was the 2014 recipient of the Edward Donley Award by the Education Policy and Leadership Center. In 2017, he was recognized in TrustEd’s list of 20 education thought leaders for his contribution to the national dialogue on K-12 public education.
Tom received a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Development and a Master of Public Administration degree from The Pennsylvania State University. He and his wife, Sherrin, are parents of three sons and grandparents of two boys and three girls.