Sandra Sims-deGraffenried named to Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame at TROY

Posted: Tuesday, 20 October 2009

TROY—The former executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards has been selected for induction into the Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame at Troy University.

Dr. Sandra Sims-deGraffenried, who retired from AASB in 2007 after 19 years as executive director, will be installed in a special ceremony at 1 p.m. Oct. 28 in Hawkins Hall on the Troy Campus.

The Hall of Fame was established in 1982, by the Troy University Board of Trustees under the authority of the Legislature of the State of Alabama. Its purpose is to recognize, by cooperative effort of Troy University, the Alabama Association of School Boards, the Alabama Department of Education and the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, outstanding leaders and to establish and maintain a Hall of Fame to permanently record their achievements. To date, 37 honorees have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, including Dr. Sims-deGraffenried.

An educator for more than 40 years, Dr. Sims-deGraffenried began her career in 1966 teaching senior high English at Danville High School including stints as a counselor and central office supervisor in the Decatur School System. Her goal was to be a superintendent, said Mrs. Sue Helms, AASB president, but was sidetracked in 1985 when she joined the association as its assistant executive director.

“She became AASB’s executive director in 1988, breaking ground as the first female executive director of a major Alabama education organization and the first female school boards association executive director in the Southeast,” said Mrs. Helms, who nominated Dr. Sims-deGraffenried for the honor.

While at the helm of the association, Dr. Sims-deGraffenried strengthened the association’s finances, solidified membership, increased the group’s visibility in the advocacy and legislative arena and developed an extensive professional development program for school board members.

Her advocacy on behalf of public education in Alabama earned her the association’s Champion for Children Award in 2004. She has been twice recognized by the American Society of Association Executives with national awards in governmental relations and training programs. The National School Board Association selected her as its recipient of the Thomas A. Shannon Leadership Award for Excellence in School Boards Association Leadership in 2005.

She serves as a commissioner of the Education Commission of the States, on the Southern Regional Educational Board, on the Southern Growth Policies Board and is a past board member of the Southeastern Regional Vision for Education. Three Alabama governors – Governors Guy Hunt, Fob James and Bob Riley – have appointed her to task forces charged with examining public school funding, and she led the charge to end non-essential funding with education budget funds. She was recently appointed to serve on the Alabama Trust Fund Board, which oversees billions of dollars of Alabama’s oil and gas royalties.

Dr. Sims-deGraffenried earned a bachelors and masters from Athens State University, her AA Certification from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her doctorate from Vanderbilt University.

“Dr. Sims-deGraffenried is an outstanding advocate for Alabama’s children,” said Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. “During her career she earned the respect of legislators and officials throughout the state as she fought for increased funding for public education. It is with pleasure that we witness her induction into the Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame.”