State Leader of the Year Award

The SETDA State Leader of the Year (SLY) Award is given annually to recognize an active SETDA member who has exhibited outstanding leadership by advancing education in his/her state through the use of technology, by collaborating with peers through SETDA initiatives and affecting positive change for the association and its members, and by furthering SETDA’s mission by engaging with the broader education community at the regional, national, or international levels.

Members and affiliates can see nomination guidelines and access nomination forms via SETDA Connects.

2021 Julia Legg
E-rate Coordinator, Office of Data Analysis & Research
West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE)

Julia Legg is the State E-rate Coordinator in the Office of Data Analysis & Research at the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE). She has been in education for the last 24 years as a fourth-generation educator. She holds teaching licenses in English and School Library Media, along with a Masters’ Degree in Instructional Technology Leadership and is a licensed school administrator. Her roles have included graduate-level instruction, high school, middle school, elementary and virtual instruction.

In her 16 years with the WVDE, she has provided professional development as a Technology Integration Specialist coordinator and served in other roles including supporting the School Library Media Specialists across the state. In her current role, she supports broadband initiatives as a member of the state Broadband Enhancement Council Education Committee, administers the statewide strategic technology planning initiative, manages state master contracts for school networking and Internet access, and provides technology support to school districts, along with filing assistance and support to her districts for E-rate and the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

Mrs. Legg is the former Chair of the State Action Committee within the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA), a leadership member of the E-rate Collaborative group, the board liaison to the Strategic Partnerships committee, as well as holding membership in the State E-rate Coordinator Alliance (SECA).

Current & Previous SLY award winners at 2021 virtual Leadership Summit

SLY members

Current & Previous SLY award winners at 2020 virtual Leadership Summit









Sandy O’Neil, Title II-A and Title IV-A Coordinator (2020)

Sandy O'Neil NJDOE2020 Sandy O’Neil
Title II-A and Title IV-A Coordinator
New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)

Sandy is the former Title II-A and Title IV-A Coordinator at the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) and has also served as the State E-rate Coordinator for education. She has had a 23-year fascinating career at the New Jersey Department of Education and has been fortunate enough to sit on national committees for the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the National CyberSafety Alliance (NCSA)and currently co-facilitates the national SETDA Title II-A Collaborativefor Title II-A directors. She graduated from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA and has taught grades K-8. She received her master’s degree from Georgian Court University before her initial position as an Educational Technology Specialist at the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)

Julia Fallon, Title II, Part A Program Lead (2019)

Julia Fallon2019 Julia Fallon
Title II, Part A Program Lead,
Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Julia Fallon is a technology and learning alchemist. She works for Washington’s K-12 education agency, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) as the Title II, Part A Program Lead, where she provides operational oversight of the federal program designed to improve the quality of instruction and administration. In her previous role as the state’s Technology Integration Program Manager, she streamlined strategic planning for districts moving large- and small-scale technology projects forward, championed robust professional learning programming for educators facing a brave new world of 1-to-1 initiatives, and spoken out for smart, flexible network policy that connects teachers and kids to a wider world of collaborative learning and dynamic scholarship.

Involved with learning technologies since 1989, she is an avid proponent of dynamic 21st century learning experiences where highly effective instructional strategies integrate a wide range of digital technologies. Her professional interest lies in making the case for public school systems wherein all educators are able to optimize technology-rich learning environments to engage the learners who fill our classrooms. She explores and probes the big ideas in K-12 education with tech integration ─ how to make sure all kids acquire the skills to participate in a digital society, and what is the collective and creative impact of thriving online communities.

Julia has served SETDA since 2003 as an active state member, committee member and committee chair.  She has also been instrumental in the leadership of the organization as a member of the Board of Directors serving in various board positions including the Chair of the Board. Her dedication to the organization and to learning for all students makes her the very representation of the SLY Award. Read the Press Release

Jerome Browning, State E-rate Coordinator (2018)

Jerome Browning Headshot 20182018 Jerome Browning
State E-rate Coordinator
Utah Education and Telehealth Network

Jerome Browning has been working in Educational Technology for over 25 years focusing on E-Rate and classroom technologies for students, teachers and administration. He is a former Alabama secondary math teacher, district level Technology Coordinator, Assistant Football Coach and School Medic in rural Coosa County. Additionally, he has served as the Director of Technology in Chambers County, Alabama. He has spent over 17 years as an Education Administrator and Program Coordinator in the various Education Technology offices within the Alabama State Department of Education including the role of State E-Rate Coordinator. Recently retiring from Alabama, Jerome is now the State E-Rate Coordinator for Utah, joining the Utah Education and Telehealth Network in Salt Lake City, UT.

In his many roles, Jerome supports the E-Rate efforts of E-Rate applicants across the state. He works with E-Rate stakeholders regularly, assisting them with their applications for much needed E-Rate funding. He has developed and administered unique E-Rate training opportunities and methods of daily assistance through a Virtual E-Rate Classroom and open office hours. As a key element of the E-Rate program, Jerome also works with the educational technologies procurement process assisting applicants meet state and local requirements as well as the E-Rate requirements and has supported multiple states in replicating tools to support their districts. He has also worked as an Education Information and Accountability Coordinator where, serving as the Data Governance Chairman, he developed and/or participated in the development of many data collections and reporting policies, procedures and collaboration tools.  Jerome works across states as an active member of both the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), and the State E-Rate Coordinators Alliance (SECA). He is a founding member of SETDA’s E-Rate Special Interest Group.

Jerome has bachelor degrees in Business Administration and Secondary Math Education from Auburn University at Montgomery. He earned his master’s degree in Instructional Design focusing upon educational technology from Auburn University at Auburn. Announcement Press Release

Stan Freeda, Educational Technology Director & Online Learning Specialist (2017)

stan freeda2017 Stan Freeda
Educational Technology Director & Online Learning Specialist
New Hampshire Department of Education

Stan is the State Educational Technology Director and Online Learning Specialist, working out of the Office of Educational Technology at the New Hampshire Department of Education. He has been working in the Office of Educational Technology since 2006.  The Office of Ed Tech supports several initiatives and projects for NH educators, schools, and districts.

In his position as State Educational Technology Director, Stan supports educational technology in New Hampshire schools by offering support and guidance to schools and districts regarding their K-12 Information and Communication Technologies Literacy programs as part of the school approval process, and providing support and guidance for district technology and digital learning planning.  He develops and maintains the Office of Educational Technology’s online toolkits and resources available on online learning specialist, Stan coordinates the NH e-Learning for Educators project, which offers online professional development facilitated courses and self-paced for educators through OPEN NH.  Stan supports the program through managing course and tutorial registration, instructor coordination, and content update and development.

Stan earned bachelor’s degrees in both physics and biology; and has earned master’s degrees in limnology and oceanography and in education.  He also earned a graduate certificate in Educational Technology and Online Learning. Announcement Press Release

Candice Dodson, Director of eLearning (2016)


2016 Candice Dodson
Director of eLearning
Indiana Department of Education

Candice has 20 years of experience in a variety of roles such elementary teacher, media specialist,  curriculum and technology integration specialist, central office administrator, and even assistant principal. Before her most recent work with the Indiana Department of Education her task revolved around the implementation of a 6-12th grade one-to-one initiative, the development of leadership programs for district administrators, and expansion of professional development programs. As Director of eLearning she currently spearheads digitally rich program across the state of Indiana that have become exemplars for other states to follow. The Office of eLearning’s strategic plan includes the formation of an eLearning Leadership Cadre, statewide professional development opportunities including the Summer of eLearning conferences, Admin Academies, and Digital Learning Grants.

Candice is the 2016-2017 SETDA Board Chair and has been an active member of SETDA since she started working in Indiana at the state level. She has worked tirelessly with our strategic partners in Indiana as well as SETDA, education leaders and policy makers to support SETDA and its mission. As a board member, Candice has served on many committees, been a liaison to committees, and collaborated to shape and develop state and national policy. Her strong understanding of the technology integration has laid the groundwork for baseline standards and expectations at the state level. This groundwork can be seen in policies, programs, events all focusing on enabling access for all K-12 students. Candice shares a comprehensive vision for student learning, while considering the challenges and perspectives of all constituents, culminating states and propose comprehensive solutions as exemplified by her continued success in educational technology and ability to move Indiana to the forefront.

Peter Drescher, Education Technology Coordinator Vermont Agency of Education (2015)


Peter Drescher
Education Technology Coordinator
Vermont Agency of Education

Peter Drescher, a long standing SETDA member and current member of the SETDA Board of Directors, was named the 2015 SETDA State Leader of the Year (SLY). Peter is the Education Technology Coordinator with the Vermont Agency of Education. Peter has been involved in Education Technology since the early 1990’s. He began his career in education as a Social Studies/Technology teacher at a middle school in New Mexico. It wasn’t long before Social Studies gave way to a full time technology coordinator position and the development of a robust technology program. For over 20 years, he has provided professional development and leadership for teachers and leaders around technology planning and integration.

Peter served as the Chair of the SETDA Board of Directors and played a key role in guiding our organization through a challenging period where we had a significant shift in staffing. Peter was always on top of minute by minute changes and worked collaboratively with other board members to ensure a smooth transition. Throughout the entire process Peter kept a positive attitude and a focus on the possibilities for SETDA in the future. As a member of many of SETDA’s committees Peter is committed to being a hands-on, mind-on participant in the work.  He can always be counted on to bring new ideas, offer feedback, and support the staff and membership.

Peter also works across states to build strategies and leverage resources that accelerate digital transformation in Vermont schools.  He partners with other states to discuss and implement regional strategies to support schools and districts in transforming education.

Laurence Cocco, New Jersey Department of Education (2014)

cocco120Laurence (Larry) Cocco

Director of the Office of Educational Technology
New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)

Laurence (Larry) Cocco, a long standing SETDA member and current at large member of the SETDA Board of Directors, was named the 2014 SETDA State Leader of the Year (SLY). Larry is the Director of the Office of Educational Technology located within the Division of Innovation in the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE). Larry established one of the first classrooms of the future in New Jersey and is a staunch supporter of the use of technology in schools. Larry’s work throughout the state of New Jersey exemplifies SETDA’s mission to improve education through technology policy and practice on the state and national level. He has been instrumental in developing State policies and implementation strategies for digital learning.

Larry has been a member of SETDA since he started working at the NJDOE. He has worked with strategic partners, education leaders and policy makers to support SETDA and its mission. Larry was recently re-elected to the SETDA Board and continues to demonstrate leadership capacity while sharing his expertise with SETDA Members.

As a member, Larry has served on many committees and has been instrumental collaborating with other members to develop national policy. His strong leadership for the broadband policies shaped a revolutionary procedure and process in New Jersey to ensure broadband access for K-12 students.

Larry is able to focus on the broad picture, while considering the challenges and perspectives of all states and propose comprehensive solutions as exemplified by his work with the Broadband initiative. His visits to the House and Senate committee members permitted him to share the State and national positions with State representatives.

Larry is passionate about the educational value of alternate methods of education, including online gaming. He initiated webinars for G.A.M.E. (Gamers Advancing Meaningful Education), a resource for educators who game, want to learn how to game, and want to incorporate gaming strategies into teaching and learning. This successful series of webinars garnered national and international attention to using games as a vehicle for educating students and expanding perceptions of alternative learning methods.

Jeff Mao, Maine Department of Education (2013)

Mao JeffJeff Mao

Director, Learning Technology Policy

Maine Department of Education

Jeff Mao is the 2013 recipient of the SETDA State Leader of the Year Award.   He served as SETDA Board Chair for two years and was on the board for two terms (6 years). Jeff’s vision while serving as the Board Chair and as a Board member was very reflective of his commitment to SETDA. Some of the many accomplishments that SETDA accomplished during his two terms on the Board were the –

  • Development of a new SETDA strategic plan which included driving its implementation with new logo/branding, bylaws amendments, budget process, and renewed focus on governance practices
  • Release of three major SETDA reports – Broadband Imperative, Digital and Open content, and Data Interoperability
  • Release of the State Ed Policy Center, a state-by-state compilation of policies and practices now available in a searchable database

Jeff was and continues to be an exceptional technology leader in his home state of Maine. His leadership and guidance has made the Maine Learning Technology Initiative a program that has influenced schools across the globe. Essentially Maine, under Jeff’s guidance, has served as THE model for 1:1 computing. He has represented Maine’s Learning Technology Initiative in numerous conferences, both nationally and internationally, having traveled to Australia, Paraguay, South Korea, the Philippines, China and Sweden to name a few. He has authored a number of articles in support of education technology and testified before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, again leading the charge for education technology as a national agenda.

As the 2012 awardee of the Common Sense Media Educator of the Year Award, Jeff embodies the leadership qualities we all aspire to in our roles as State Directors of Education Technology. Jeff is continuing his involvement with SETDA as he was recently appointed the co-chair of the State Action Committee. Jeff is a leader that empowers everyone around him to advance digital teaching and learning for all.

Dr. Wayne Hartschuh, Delaware Center for Educational Technology (2012)

Wayne HartschuhDr. Wayne Hartschuh

Executive Director

Delaware Center for Educational Technology

Wayne is very active in SETDA, and has provided excellent leadership for the organization. He was on the SETDA Board of Directors having served as Treasurer for two years and Chair for two years. He is a member and Board Liaison to the Professional Growth Committee. He has represented SETDA as well at Advocacy Days, encouraged the Congressional delegation to sign Dear Colleague letters to support educational technology, and met with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. He participated in the development of the white papers for the Class of 2020 and has been a presenter at many SETDA meetings over the years. He was a participant in the first Leading in Technology online course offered through SETDA and was a mentor for the second offering. He was also instrumental in ensuring delivery of the recent online course offerings for SETDA members.

 (from left to right) Melinda Maddox, Lan Neugent, Carla Wade, Wayne Hartschuh (2012 Winner), Jayne Moore, Rick Gaisford, and Michael Golden

SETDA SLY Award Winners Past & Present (from left to right): Melinda Maddox, Lan Neugent, Carla Wade, Wayne Hartschuh, Jayne Moore, Rick Gaisford, and Michael Golden

Stephen Sanders, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (2011)

Stephen SandersStephen Sanders

Director, Instructional Media and Technology Team

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction


Stephen (Steve) Sanders serves as Director of the Instructional Media & Technology Team where he oversees the Title II-D federal program, the state’s virtual education program, partnerships with Thinkfinity and Intel, School Library programs, and various other state and local initiatives housed on his team or across the agency. He played important roles in providing DPI guidance in the development of BadgerNet Converged Network (BCN), the statewide voice and data network used by schools, libraries, higher education, municipalities and state government and making Wisconsin a “Google Apps for Edu” state. He is currently taking on a leadership role in the Wisconsin state superintendent’s Digital Learning Advisory Council which will provide a framework for the use of educational technology in Wisconsin in the future, and has played an instrumental role in working with Wisconsin school districts to implement a statewide student information system (SIS) program. Within SETDA, Steve has served on both the Data and Policy Committees, chairing the latter. He is highly responsive to requests for assistance, be it a request for a letter from the Chief, in providing pragmatic feedback on EDEN Data Elements or in written testimony for the FCC on eRate. His knowledge of eRate is extensive and he has served Wisconsin greatly in assisting LEAs with program participation.

Michael Golden, Rick Gaisford, Carla Wade, Stephen Sanders, Melinda Maddox, Jayne Moore, and Lan Neugent

SETDA SLY Award Winners Past & Present (left to right): Michael Golden, Rick Gaisford, Carla Wade, Stephen Sanders, Melinda Maddox, Jayne Moore, and Lan Neugent

Past Winners


Carla WadeCarla Wade, Oregon Department of Education





Rick GaisfordRick Gaisford, Utah State Office of Education





Jayne MooreJayne Moore, Maryland State Department of Education





Lan NeugentLan Neugent, Virginia Department of Education


Melinda MaddoxMelinda Maddox, Alabama State Department of Education





Michael GoldenMichael Golden, Pennsylvania Department of Education





Anita GivensAnita Givens, Texas Education Agency





Brenda WilliamsBrenda Williams, West Virginia Department of Education




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