Leadership

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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

Education

  • Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Moorhead State University (1989)
  • Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, St. Cloud State University

Personal

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.

Email address

president.denise.specht@edmn.org

Vice President Ryan Fiereck

Ryan Fiereck was appointed to the position of vice president Jan. 15 by the Education Minnesota Governing Board, after the seat was vacated by Bernie Burnham’s election as president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

Fiereck will serve until July 1, when the statewide officer team elected at this April’s Representative Convention will start their term.

Fiereck is a business and technology teacher in St. Francis, where he has worked for almost all of his 17-year career. He has served on the Education Minnesota Governing Board for nine years and served as Education Minnesota-St. Francis local president, where he represented licensed, nutrition, preschool, transportation and office staff, as well as education assistants.


Fiereck has also served on the negotiations team for the St. Francis licensed staff, has been vice president and president of the Metro Area Council intermediate organization, and was on the Education Minnesota Governing Board Executive Committee.


Fiereck hopes to bring his experience as a K-12 teacher, working parent and local union leader to help elevate the conversations we need to be having about education right now.

When Fiereck was early in his career and union involvement, he noticed that there was a lack of younger educators involved in their local, state and national unions. He held start NextGen EdMN, which aimed at connecting members in their first years in education with their union. The program doesn’t exist in that form, but Fiereck hopes a lot of the lessons they learned inform the member engagement work happening at the Education Minnesota.

Professional teaching experience

  • K-5 Computer Applications and Technology Teacher, East Bethel Elementary School
  • 6-8 Computer Applications, Computer Programming And Business Education Teacher, St. Francis Middle School and Saints Online School
  • 9-12 Computer Applications and Business Education Teacher, Saints Online School and Crossroads School At Bar None

Education

  • M.S. Education St. Mary’s University Winona, Minnesota
  • Bachelor of Science Business Education Winona State University Winona, Minnesota
  • Union Leadership Program Carlson School Of Business, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • K-12 Principal Certificate Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, Minnesota

Personal

Fiereck lives in Bethel with his wife, who is an education assistant in St. Francis, and their three young children.

Email address

ryan.fiereck@edmn.org

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)

Education

  • 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)

Personal

Rowe grew up in Lake Park, Iowa. He resides in Roseville, Minnesota.

Email address

rodney.rowe@edmn.org

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. 

Education

  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies and Education
  • Masters of Arts in Education Policy

Personal

Lucking and her husband, Bob Hume, live in Woodbury with their 7-year-old daughter Reese. 

Email address

carrie.lucking@edmn.org