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Arizona ​Coalition of School Board Members

Meet The Coalition Team

Katie War​​d

Executive Director

Katie was born in Michigan but raised in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. After high school, she participated in a year-long Rotary Exchange as a Youth Ambassador in Chile. Katie earned degrees in History and Political Science and a certificate in Political Thought and Leadership from Arizona State University. Understanding the importance of education, she continued her academic studies with a post-baccalaureate certificate in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. Katie’s knowledge of policy and politics led her into the political sphere where she honed her leadership and team-building skills in the field and in the office on several campaigns. She worked as the Business Liaison in the district office of Congressman Paul Gosar. Most recently, Katie worked for the State Approving Agency at the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services, helping to ensure veterans are able to receive a quality education. 

Pam Kirby

Board President and Founder

A native of Dallas, Pam moved to Arizona 26 years ago and has called Paradise Valley, her home since 2002. Pam holds a Bachelors in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin, a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, a Master’s in Education Policy from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and a Graduate Certificate in Forensic Accounting from Northeastern University. Pam held executive positions at Arthur Andersen, Marriott Corporation and, Frito-Lay, where she served as a finance executive for the Western United States until 2006. She is a CPA in Texas and Arizona. She served two terms on the Paradise Valley Town Council and two terms as a Scottsdale School District Governing Board member.

Kristie Kennedy

Board Secretary

Kristie is a native of Topeka, Kansas. She married her high school sweetheart in 1989. In 1995 they made the move out west to Las Vegas, Nevada. Kristie spent the first 9 years working as a bookkeeper for various companies then in 2004 she and her husband started a small business in industrial/construction sales. Kristie also served as President of the Board for a commercial HOA from 2007 to 2017 and was a licensed real estate agent from 2013 to 2019. After 24 years in Las Vegas, Kristie and her husband moved to Phoenix, AZ in 2019. Besides working in their small business, Kristie is a member of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, Palo Verde Republican Women’s Club, and is a Precinct Committeeman for LD15.

Matt Nielsen

Board Treasurer

Matt Nielsen is Founder and Board Chairman at the Educational Freedom Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advocates for all children to have access to the education options that best meet their individual needs. He also serves as Executive Vice President at a national charter school management organization, Charter One where his role is to help new charter schools to form by completing all of the necessary regulatory steps in preparation for the first day of school. Prior to his work at Charter One, he worked in the publishing and legal fields, during which time he served as Board Member and COO, respectively. Matt holds a Master’s Degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Creighton University and a BA in Communications from California State University-Sacramento. 

Sylvia Allen

Board Member

As a 5th generation Arizonian, Sylvia loves this state the families and children who live here. She has served rural Arizona in the State Senate from 2008 – 2012. As Navajo County Supervisor from 2012 to 2014 and then back to the AZ Senate from 2015- 2020. As Supervisor she served as; President of the Arizona/New Mexico Coalition of Counties, Board member of the Little Colorado River Resources Conservation District, and Northern Arizona Council of Governments Community Action. In the Senate, Sylvia was President Pro Tempore under three different Senate Presidents and served as Education Chairman from 2016 until 2020. In 2014, Sylvia and her friend Dr. Kathleen Danielson started a charter school in Snowflake, Arizona through EDKey Inc . Sylvia’s responsibility the first year was to run the administrative operations of the small school. Each month she teaches the “Golden Rule” character program at the school and writes and directs the patriotic musical program, “Freedom Lights the Way,” performed by the students in the spring. She is married to Richard Allen and has 5 children, 19 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. 


Shelli Boggs

Board Member

Born and raised in Arizona, Shelli is a mom of 3 and a grandmother to 7. She spent 14 years in education. After 10 years of teaching in Career and Technical Education, Shelli taught English, Special Education, and a College Career Specialist. She is a firm believer in empowering students by teaching critical thinking skills. Shelli currently serves on the EVIT Governing Board, where she is part of a team that ensures over 28,000 students from 11 school districts have an opportunity to learn a skill that allows them to turn their passion into a paycheck by the time they graduate from high school.


Nancy Cottle

Board Member

Nancy Cottle is a long-time supporter of education. She holds an M.A. in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix and a B.S. in Education from Kent State University. She is a retired executive from The Boeing Company and a former small business owner. She also holds an Arizona substitute teaching certificate. Ms. Cottle has enjoyed spending time with elementary students in Mesa Public Schools. A highlight during her aerospace career was bringing a STEM program focused on math and science to students in the classroom. Ms. Cottle is an advocate for school choice and believes funding should follow the child so that their needs are best served. She looks forward to using her skills to fill a niche that has been overlooked for some time in Arizona. Whether it’s public, charter, or technical/trade school classes, it must be what is best for the kids. 

Jill Norgaard

Board Member

Jill Norgaard is a proven business professional with over 30 years of engineering experience in the aerospace and defense industry. Norgaard was a state legislator for two terms and served on the appropriations, commerce, and education committees, serving as the education sub-committee Chairman. Her legislative focus was on school finance where she worked to simplify education finance formulas with successful legislation. Her career has included owning a small business, and working as a corporate executive in the manufacturing industry. She has held various leadership positions on both community and non-profit boards. This diverse range of experience has helped Jill develop a unique perspective of the correlation of business and education issues that influence the state, and the impact on taxpayers and the state budget. Jill is currently the Vice-President of Fair Maps Arizona, a company dedicated to ensuring compliance for the 2021 redistricting efforts.