Eleven vie for empty city school board seat

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Board of Education will interview 11 candidates today in an attempt to fill the seat left open by the resignation of Dawn Turnage, who accepted a job in Columbus earlier this year.

Applicants for the vacancy include former Youngstown State University professors, a nurse, educators, business owners and a former superintendent secretary.

Applicants are:

• Kimberly A. Benson of Youngstown, a former superintendent secretary of Eagle Heights Academy. In 2019, Benson was a candidate for a Youngstown board member position. She is CEO / owner of Keezee Enterprises LLC in Youngstown and enrolled at Ashworth College pursuing a degree in paralegal studies;

• Desate’ L. Burkley of Youngstown, owner of Tiny Faces Childcare. In 2011, she graduated from Choffin Career Center with Child Development Associate credentials in early child education. She also earned an associate degree from Colorado Christian University in Biblical Studies. Previously, she was a paraprofessional at Trumbull County Educational Service Center. Affiliated organizations are the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association;

• Barbara Zban Flinn of Youngstown is a lecturer and composition program coordinator in the English Department at Youngstown State University. Her background in education stretches back to 1982 when she started her career as a permanent substitute of seventh-grade English at North Junior High. She earned her Master of Arts from YSU in 1981. Affiliated organizations include, board member of Youngstown City Health District; National Council of Teachers of English; Association of College and University Educators and YSU Student Conduct Board;

• Betia Jennings of Youngstown is a nurse practitioner with a degree in nursing from Case Western Reserve University. Jennings is certified in pediatric mental health and is a pediatric (primary care) nurse practitioner. Affiliated organizations include Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses and the American Nurses Association.

• Joseph S. Meranto of Youngstown retired from Youngstown City Schools and was a teacher, coach, assistant principal and a transportation supervisor consultant. He earned a doctorate in education administration from YSU. Affiliated organizations include YSU Alumni Association; Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber; St. Anthony Church and Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators among others;

• Carolyn D. Overton of Youngstown works as a business development intern for OH WOW! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology in Youngstown and a financial services representative for MassMutual in Pittsburgh. Overton graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications from YSU in 2022. She is affiliated with the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber;

• Ameerah Pusey of Youngstown is an information security risk management consultant. In 2020, Pusey graduated from Colorado Technical University with a master’s in information systems security. Affiliated organizations are The Links, incorporated, Youngstown Chapter and the Junior Civic League of Youngstown;

• Jane M. Sadinski of Youngstown is an educational consultant for school improvement at State Support Team Region 5. Her career in education also includes serving as an adjunct professor at YSU. Sadinski also taught ninth- to 12th-grade mathematics at Pine Ridge High School, Pine Ridge Job Corps Center and Collbran Job Corps Center. She earned a doctorate in educational leadership from YSU in 2004. Affiliated organizations are American Educational Research and Evaluation and the Assessment and Curriculum Development Association;

• Nia L. Simms of Youngstown works for Viaquest as a program manager but previously worked in education as a 1- to-1 substitute at Leonard Kirtz School in Austintown and also served as a substitute teacher with the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She pursued a political science degree at YSU but did not complete her degree;

• Pamela J. Szmara of Youngstown owns Pamton 3D Commercial Printing. Szmara also works as an instructor for both America Makes and Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown. She earned a dental lab degree from Columbus State Community College in 1992. She belongs to Valley Lead Group and SME;

• Lydia S. Walker of Youngstown works at APTIV, formerly known as Delphi Packard, as a cherry picker. She earned a communications degree from YSU in 2007 and a social work degree from EGCC in 2019. She previously worked as a machine operator / fork lift tech along with working in telemarketing for Infocision. Affiliated organizations include Raymond John Wean Emerging Leaders and Mahoning Valley Organizing Committee, among others;

The applicants will be interviewed publicly during a board meeting 4 p.m. today in the Commons Area of Choffin Career and Technical Center, 200 E. Wood St.


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