President Denise Specht
Denise Specht was elected president of Education Minnesota at the Representative Convention April 27, 2013. She took office July 1, 2013, and was re-elected in 2016 and 2019.
Specht, a fourth-generation teacher, served the previous six years as secretary-treasurer of the statewide educators union and various posts on the Education Minnesota Governing Board.
She was a longtime leader at the local level, including five years as president of the Centennial Education Association, which represents teachers in the Centennial School District. She has extensive leadership experience in her district and the community as well as in the union. She served on the district budget reduction task force and facility use task force and as president, vice president, treasurer, building representative and alternative compensation committee member in the Centennial Education Association.
She also has state and national experience. Specht serves as a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and on its Democracy Committee. She’s a member of the political action committee for the National Education Association (NEA), their G27 committee and chairs a dialogue on merged state concerns. Specht serves on the Minnesota AFL-CIO general board and executive committee.
Specht is especially interested in building relationships that advance support for innovative solutions to the challenges in public education.
Professional teaching experience
- Title One and second-grade teacher, Golden Lake Elementary School, Centennial School District
- Sixth-grade teacher, Centennial Middle School
- Sixth-grade teacher, Forest Lake School District
- Fifth-grade teacher, Azle School District, Azle, Texas
- Fifth-grade teacher, Progresso School District, Progresso, Texas
- Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Moorhead State University (1989)
- Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, St. Cloud State University
Specht lives in Shoreview, Minn. Her parents were both teachers in Buffalo, Minn. She also had great-grandparents and grandparents who were educators. Specht is active in her community, serving on her condominium association board.
Vice President Bernie Burnham
Bernie Burnham was elected vice president of Education Minnesota at the Representative Convention in 2019.
When her daughters were in elementary school, Bernie was a classroom assistant and playground monitor. She was encouraged to get her teaching degree after spending so much time in the schools. During that time, she also chaired the Asian Pacific Advisory Board for Duluth Public Schools. She went back to school as a non-traditional student and holds an elementary 1-6 license along with a master’s degree in education.
Burnham worked for 14 years as an elementary school teacher and was actively involved in the labor management process in the Duluth Public Schools for nine years, four of those prior to being elected president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers. She served in that role for five years.
In addition to being a local union president, Burnham served on the Vision Duluth Board, a branch of TakeAction Minnesota, and was involved in the Northeast Area Labor Council, part of the Minnesota AFL-CIO. She also was chair of the Duluth Community School Collaborative, helping foster partnerships for the city’s three full-service community schools. She also worked with Education Minnesota’s Educator Policy Innovation Center on their research papers around the importance of full-service community schools, and served on the American Federation of Teachers Program and Policy Council.
Burnham, a Pacific-Islander, is the first person of color to serve on Education Minnesota’s officer team. She is also proud of her Irish heritage, her Mom being an Irish immigrant.
Professional teaching experience
- Media teacher, third grade and data coach, Laura MacArthur Elementary School
- Fourth grade teacher, Grant Elementary School
- Fifth, fourth and first grade teacher, Lincoln Park Elementary School
- Sixth grade teacher, Lowell Music Magnet Elementary School
- M.S. Education, St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN. 2005
- Bachelor of Science-Elementary Education, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN. 1998
Burnham has two adult daughters. Carly is in the insurance industry, currently doing new product development, and her husband Andrew is an emergency room doctor. Meghan is a secondary science teacher, currently teaching in Denmark. Burnham currently lives in St. Paul.
Secretary-Treasurer Rodney Rowe
Rodney Rowe was elected secretary-treasurer of Education Minnesota at the Representative Convention in April 2013 and re-elected in 2016 and 2019.
Rowe spent the last nine years as a member of the Education Minnesota Governing Board. For the last 10 years, he was member rights chair of the Great Southwest United Governing Board, a regional group of Education Minnesota locals. In addition to leadership experience at the state and regional levels, he has extensive experience at the local level. In Worthington, he served as membership chair, a member rights advocate, a member of the Executive Committee and a building representative. In Sleepy Eye, he served as local president, a member of the Negotiations and Government Relations committees, and Grievance Committee chair.
Rowe taught in Minnesota elementary schools for 19 years, co-teaching English language learners for the last three. As Education Minnesota moves forward, he plans to concentrate on how it can use technology more effectively on behalf of members and students.
Professional teaching experience
- Fourth-grade teacher, Prairie Elementary School, Worthington Public Schools
- Third-, fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, Sleepy Eye Public Schools
- Adjunct instructor, Saint Mary’s University Twin Cities Campus
- Educational Research and Dissemination trainer (ER&D)
- Associate Applied Arts degree in photography, Hawkeye Institute of Technology (1985)
- Applied Arts degree, Worthington Community College (1988)
- Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Mankato State University (1991)
- Master’s degree in education, Saint Mary’s University (2005)
Rowe grew up in Lake Park, Iowa. He resides in Roseville, Minnesota.
Executive Director Carrie Lucking
Carrie Lucking became executive director of Education Minnesota in November 2021.
Lucking is a former social studies teacher. She has served as the union’s director of policy and public affairs since 2020. Before that, she was the union’s Director of Policy, Research, and Outreach.
In her time at Education Minnesota, Lucking led the Education Minnesota department that supports the union’s think tank, the Education Policy and Innovation Center, which produced reports on topics including helping students recover from disrupted learning, reforming school discipline, expanding preschool and full-service community schools and recruiting and retaining teachers, especially teacher of color. She also worked with staff and members on engaging educators of color, developing the FIRE anti-racism programs, and supporting educator professional development.
In 2018, Lucking took a leave of absence to manage the Walz/Flanagan gubernatorial campaign.
Before coming to Education Minnesota, Lucking served as executive director of the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, where she was the chief strategist for 29 legislative campaigns and coordinated communications research for progressive organizations throughout the state.
Lucking spent the first 10 years of her career as a social studies teacher, where she was active in the Hopkins Education Association and sat on the governing board of Education Minnesota. She also coached the high school debate team, which does not surprise anyone who has met her.
- Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies and Education
- Masters of Arts in Education Policy
Lucking and her husband, Bob Hume, live in Woodbury with their 7-year-old daughter Reese.