Meet our new Board members!

Khem Irby

We congratulate and thank Khem Irby, returning member of the PAA Board, and welcome new Board members Laura Bowman and Zerlina Smith. Khem’s bio is here, and you can learn more about Zerlina and Laura below:

Laura Bowman has a child in the Roanoke County, VA public school system. She’s a fearless, unapologetic, and tireless advocate for children and public education and is the leader of Parents Across America-Roanoke Valley in southwestern Virginia. She’s held many offices in the PTA including PTA President and President of the Roanoke County Council of PTAs. She seeks out opportunities to meet with legislators and education leaders on education issues and stands up for children, their teachers, and their neighborhood public schools at rallies, hearings, meetings, and town halls. Laura has done extensive research for PAA’s Test Stress, EdTech, and Social Emotional Learning projects and has been a panelist in PAA webinars. Currently, she’s focused on preventing charter school expansion in her state and protecting student data privacy.


Zerlina Smith is a long-time South-Austin (Chicago) resident with ​ deep ties to the local community​ . She has been fighting for justice as an activist her whole life, because she believes that the people should have the power to make decisions for their own communities. Her earliest inspiration was her grandmother, Cora Smith, who organized from CHA public housing to fight for community resources and housing rights. ​ Activism and the fight for justice are her legacy​. A single mother of a 8-year-old, Ms. Smith wears many hats in the community. She relates to the importance and struggle for ​ strong, public schools​ and has been active in the fight for quality education through parent organizing, now Newly Elected Chairman of the Illinois State Green Party, former Chairman of Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy LSC , Parent leader of Action Now, Board member of Raise your Hand, Board member and treasurer of the West Side Community stakeholders Federal coalition, Former Chairman of the Head Start Policy Committee for CPS, former Secretary of Columbus Park advisory committee, Chair of the West side Democracy for America accountability Chapter and Former Alderman Candidate for the 29th Ward 2015 race in Chicago IL. Zerlina Smith is the founder of InCrease the Harvest Inc. That Is a
Not-for-Profit and Civic organization. She works part-time in Community Outreach for State Representative Lashawn Ford of the 8th district. She was IL State Coordinator for the Jill Stein presidential campaign. Her activism shines through her work as a leader in her community and throughout the City and State.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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