Dennis Van Roekel
Dennis Van Roekel, a 23-year teaching veteran and longtime activist and advocate for children and public education, is president of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association. As NEA president, he leads the nation's largest labor union and advocate for quality public schools. Van Roekel is committed to improving student learning and enhancing the professionalism of education employees. And he is guided by his belief in the NEA mission and vision. Consistent with the mission, he is inspired to "fulfill the promise of public education" and ensure that every child in America, regardless of family income or place of residence, receives a quality education. The high school math teacher from Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix, Ariz., served two terms as NEA Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer, and has held key positions in all levels of the Association, including Arizona Education Association President and Paradise Valley Education Association President. His accomplishments include dramatic increases in membership among teachers and education support professionals while president of the Arizona Education Association and a notable rise in voluntary political action committee contributions during his term. Van Roekel grew up in Iowa, where parents, teachers, and the community instilled in him a deep sense of the value of education and the understanding that education opens countless doors of opportunity. His future career path was sealed in the seventh grade when he decided to become a teacher. And for more than two decades he was able to live his dream: standing in front of high school students teaching math. But while Van Roekel knew it was his job to impart knowledge and a love of learning, he realized early in his teaching career that delivering a quality education to all children and serving the collective needs of all school employees go hand-in-hand. He learned that the role of an educator and Association work are one and the same. And the only way to ensure that students and school employees have access to great public schools across the nation is to organize, mobilize, build relationships, and influence policymakers. Van Roekel earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City and a master's degree in math education from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.