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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 reelected in 2016, 2019 and 2022.

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, Minnesota. Her parents were both teachers in Buffalo, Minnesota. She also had great-grandparents and grandparents who were educators. Specht is active in her community, serving on her condominium association board.

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Vice President Monica Byron

Monica Byron was elected vice president of Education Minnesota at the Representative Convention April 23, 2022. She took office July 1, 2022 and is serving a three-year term.

Byron has taught for 24 years in Richfield Public Schools. She most recently worked as an elementary math coach.

Byron has held many local union positions as a member of Education Richfield, including treasurer, membership chair, government relations chair and vice president. Byron has also been very active in Education Minnesota and at the national level, including five years on the Governing Board, serving on numerous committees and attending trainings and conferences.

Byron is a founding member of Education Minnesota’s Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee. After attending a National Education Association Minority Leadership Training, Byron and others from Minnesota came back committee to engage and connect members of color in their state and local unions. EMAC was formed and continues today.

Byron is the first Black person to serve on Education Minnesota’s officer team.

Byron looks forward to strengthen Education Minnesota, help transform the public mindset of education and work to retain and engage all members, especially BIPOC members.

Professional teaching experience

  • Elementary districtwide math coach, Richfield
  • Elementary instructional coach, Richfield
  • Second and third grade teacher, Richfield
  • Home/school liaison (working with elementary students and families), Richfield


  • M.S. Education, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
  • Post-Bachelorette Teaching License, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
  • Bachelor of Science, Rhetoric, Speech Communications and African American Studies, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities


Byron lives in Richfield with her husband, a low-voltage network technician and I.B.E.W member, and two young adult children.

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Secretary-Treasurer Rodney Rowe

Rodney Rowe was elected secretary-treasurer of Education Minnesota at the Representative Convention April 23, 2013. He took office July 1, 2013 and was reelected in 2016, 2019 and 2022.

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.

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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. 

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