SETDA honors federal and state policymakers

Annually, SETDA honors elected and appointed policymakers at both the state and federal levels who have championed access to and effective use of technology in K-12 education.

Federal Policymaker Honorees

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (2013)

jessica rosenworcelJessica Rosenworcel


Federal Communications Commission

Jessica Rosenworcel was nominated for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by President Barack Obama and on May 7, 2012 was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate. She was sworn into office on May 11, 2012.

Commissioner Rosenworcel brings a decade and a half of public sector and private sector communications law experience to her position at the FCC. This experience has shaped her belief that in the 21st century strong communications markets can foster economic growth and security, enhance digital age opportunity, and enrich our civic life.

Prior to joining the agency, Commissioner Rosenworcel served as Senior Communications Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, under the leadership of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. She previously served in the same role on the Committee under the leadership of Senator Daniel K. Inouye. In this position, she was responsible for legislation, hearings, and policy development involving a wide range of communications issues, including spectrum auctions, public safety, broadband deployment and adoption, universal service, video programming, satellite television, local radio, and digital television transition.


Jessica Rosenworcel and Neil Kimery, SETDA Chair-Elect at the Awards Gala.

U.S. Senator Olympia Snow, Maine (2012)

snowe-120Olympia Snowe

U.S. Senator


As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Snowe established the successful E-Rate program with Senator Jay Rockefeller (WV) in 1996 when only 14 percent of schools were connected to the Internet. Snowe and Rockefeller gained the inclusion of their E-Rate provision in the telecommunications reform bill by a single vote in the Senate Commerce Committee; successfully fought back an effort on the Senate floor to remove the provision from the bill; and defended the E-Rate program during the two and one-half year implementation process at the Federal Communications Commission while ensuring it was implemented in a manner consistent with the language of the law and intent of the authors. Her steadfast support for the program and the cause of educational technology in the midst of budget constraints at both the state and federal level since that time reflects her commitment to ensuring access to the Internet and technology for effective teaching and learning.

U.S. Senator Patty Murry, Washington (2011)

murry_120Patty Murray

U.S Senator


From the classroom to the Congress, Patty Murray has been an effective and tireless advocate for Washington’s working families. In the 1980’s, when a state politician told her she “couldn’t make a difference,” Murray led a grassroots coalition of 13,000 parents to save a local preschool program from budget cuts. She went on to serve on the local school board, and in 1988 was elected to the Washington State Senate. In 1992, Murray ran a grassroots campaign of family, friends, supporters, and public interest groups to beat a 10-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives and become the first woman to represent Washington State in the U.S. Senate. Senator Murray was re-elected in 1998, 2004, and 2010, and is currently Washington’s senior Senator. Senator Murray has been steadfast in her advocacy for federal investment in educational technology through the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program and was one of the co-sponsors of the recently introduced Achievement Through Technology and Innovation (ATTAIN) Reauthorization Act of 2011. An eloquent speaker on the topic, the Senator understands the promise and potential of technology in public education, and we are deeply appreciative of her moving video address to open the 2011 SETDA Emerging Technologies Forum.

Past Award Winners

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico (2010)

U.S. Representative George Miller, California – 11th District (2009)

U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virgina (2008)

U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, California – 40th District (2007)

U.S. Senator Richard Burr, North Carolina (2007)

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa (2006)

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, Utah (2005)

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania (2004)

State Policymaker Honorees

Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction (2012)

tt-120Tom Torlakson

State Superintendent of Public Instruction

California Department of Education

As chief of California’s public school system, Superintendent Torlakson applies his experience as a science teacher, high school coach, and state policymaker to fight for students and improve the state’s public education system. Torlakson’s journey has led him from the classrooms of Contra Costa County’s Mount Diablo Unified School District, to the Antioch City Council, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, and the California State Senate and State Assembly. As a state legislator, he sponsored and carried numerous bills for education including bills focused on health, safety, physical education, as well as educational technology. He carried California Senate Bill 1637 that created and supports a regional framework that provide technology technical assistance with funding for technology, technology plan development, and the integration of technology into teaching and learning. As superintendent, Torlakson brought together dozens of leaders from across California teachers, parents, community, labor and business leaders—to share their thinking about education in the state. The resulting report, A Blueprint for Great Schools, provides vision and direction, including a focus on 21st century learning. The technology portion of the Blueprint has been referred to as No Child Left Offline. Superintendent Torlakson also has been an advocate for modernizing the E-Rate to meet the growing needs of students and teachers as technology has become integral to teaching and learning across California and the nation.

Dr. Patricia Wright, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction (2011)

wright-VA-120Dr. Patricia Wright

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Virginia Department of Education

During her more than 25 years with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and 35 total years in public education, Dr. Patricia I. Wright has worked closely with the Board of Education, governors, the General Assembly, local school systems and professional organizations to develop and implement Virginia’s standards-based accountability program and statewide system of support for public schools. Dr. Wright was appointed Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction by Governor Tim Kaine effective October 1, 2008, and was reappointed by Governor Bob McDonnell on April 16, 2010. During her tenure at the VDOE, Virginia has become an educational technology leader, committed to ensuring that all students and teachers in Virginia have the resources and tools they need to succeed in the 21st century. The Commonwealth has expanded and enriched its online learning opportunities, undertaken a number of initiatives to take advantage of interactive digital and open (OER) content and applications, moved the student assessment system online, built out a robust state data system, and demonstrated substantive leadership in helping schools keep students secure and safe while online.

Dr. June Atkinson, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction (2010)

atkinson_NC_120Dr. June Atkinson

Superintendent of Public Instruction

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

Dr. June Atkinson has served as the Superintendent of North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction since August 2005. Dr. Atkinson heads an agency which she served for nearly 30 years as a chief consultant and director in the areas of business education, career and technical education, and instructional services. A former business education teacher, Dr. Atkinson has been involved in instruction and curriculum development throughout her career. She has received numerous awards and held many professional offices. Her most recent honor is the Women of Achievement Award from the General Federation of Women’s Club. She also taught high school in Roanoke, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. In Charlotte, Dr. Atkinson’s teaching assignments required that she work with business people to find meaningful employment for her students.

Past Winners

Judy Jeffrey, Director, Iowa Department of Education (2009)


Dr. Joseph Morton, Alabama State Superintendent of Education (2008)


Michael Flanagan, Michigan State Superintendent (2007)


Dr. Jorea Marple, Assistant State Superintendent, West Virgina Department of Education (2006)