Ben Gies, a Jefferson County Board of Education member, resigned Monday morning for a new job with a local nonprofit.
Gies, who represented District 4, resigned to the board chairwoman Diane Porter Monday, the district announced. He was the youngest ever elected school board member in JCPS, elected in 2016. His term was set to expire next year.
Gies is leaving to work for Kentucky Youth Advocates, a nonprofit focused on education and children advocacy. He’ll focus on early childhood, K-12 education and federal legislation, according to his resignation letter.
“As a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to ‘making Kentucky the best place in the nation to be a kid,’ the opportunity to achieve positive outcomes for all of Kentucky’s children is too great to pass up,” Gies wrote in his resignation. “I view my new role as a continuation of my service to public education, and to the children of the commonwealth more generally.”
Terry Brooks, KYA’s executive director, said Gies’ “imagination and capacity to build consensus will be real assets to Kentucky’s kids.”
“The two most essential ingredients we need around education reform are imagination and consensus building,” Brooks said in an email to Insider Louisville.
“There is too much incrementalism and far too much polarization if kids are to be the center of the discussion. When you talk to Dr. (Marty) Pollio or (teachers union president) Brent McKim; when you talk to fellow board members or education advocates; when you talk to the parents, principals and teachers Ben represented, those are the two phrases that persistently arise when describing him.”
The board is expected to accept his resignation, thus beginning a 60-day process to fill his seat, at its July 16 meeting. State law requires the remaining board members to fill empty seats within 60 days of a resignation.
Eligible candidates must be at least 24 years old, a Kentucky resident for at least three years and registered to vote in District 4, which covers southwest Louisville.
“The board appreciates and thanks Ben for his service and commitment to the education of our students,” Porter said in a statement from the district. “We will work diligently to appoint a qualified candidate to fill his seat.”
In addition to the board, Gies worked as a teacher in Oldham County. He attended Bellarmine University and the University of Louisville, working at the McConnell Center.
“Our board and superintendent continue to accomplish much in a spirit of collaboration, deep mutual respect, and a core vision united in making Jefferson County Public Schools an exceptional school system with our students’ best interests at heart,” Gies said in his letter. “I do not take my decision to resign lightly, as I view our role as stewards of public education as being of the utmost importance.”
Gies’ resignation comes days after state law changed to allow remaining board members to fill school board vacancies. Before June 27, the education commissioner selected new board members.
This article has been updated with comment from Terry Brooks.