For Immediate Release: July 22, 2014
Contact: Renée Rybak Lang, 703.740.4841,

Arlington, Va. — The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) is pleased to announce that state education leaders from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Illinois will be awarded NASBE’s 2014 Distinguished Service Award. The national award is given annually to state board of education members in recognition of outstanding service to public education.

Allan Taylor has dedicated much of his career to public service. A Connecticut State Board of Education member since 1994, and chairman since 2005, Taylor is “a passionate leader with an unwavering commitment to an equitable and high quality education for all of Connecticut’s children, regardless of social class or ethnicity,” says Theresa Hopkins-Staten, vice chairperson of the Connecticut State Board. Taylor has left his mark on education in the state by advancing policies around teacher evaluation, preparation, and instruction, and elevating academic standards and graduation requirements in the state, among other issues. Taylor served as NASBE board president from 2010 to 2012, and remains an active NASBE member, participating in various member study groups and the Government Affairs Committee.

Dr. Vinni Hall, a “fierce advocate of Illinois’ students and teachers,” has served on the Illinois State Board of Education since 2004, bringing with her over 30 years of experience in education, both as a public school teacher and administrator. Hall has been activity involved in conversations around advancing career and technical education in the state, connecting assessment and instruction, and developing partnerships that support students and their families. Hall was critical in seeing Illinois adopt and implement Common Core State Standards and Response to Intervention, as well as improving state Supplemental Education Services, and new principal and teacher evaluations in the state. Hall continues to be an active NASBE member, having served on NASBE’s early childhood education, career and technology, and student engagement study groups.

Patrick “Buzz” Guida, vice chair of Rhode Island’s State Board of Education, has been a public servant to education for over 20 years. Guida played an active role in state and local school politics, serving first on the Barrington School Committee, and later as president of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees (RIASC). He joined the Rhode Island’s Board of Regents in 2001 and was elected vice-chair in 2005. During his tenure on the Rhode Island State Board of Education, Guida has worked tirelessly on issues of student assessment, educator quality, school improvement, and academic standards, and was integral to Rhode Island’s ESEA waiver request and revisions in 2011. A member of NASBE’s Board of Directors, Guida served as president in 2013 and continues to be an active member. “Patrick has devoted countless hours to improving public education through his work at the local, state, and national levels. It has been my privilege to serve alongside Patrick on the Rhode Island Board of Education and to see first-hand his commitment to high standards and to providing all students with access to a high-quality education,” says colleague and Rhode Island State Board Chairwoman Eva-Marie Mancuso.

“These three state board of education members exemplify a commitment to children and to public service,” says NASBE Executive Director Kristen Amundson. “This recognition from their fellow state board members is an acknowledgement of their outstanding achievement.”

The 2014 Distinguished Service Awards are being presented October 17, at NASBE’s national conference in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about the conference.

The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America’s state and territorial boards of education. Our principal objectives are to strengthen state leadership in education policymaking; advocate equality of access to educational opportunity; promote excellence in the education of all students; and assure responsible lay governance of education. Learn more at