Annual Meeting Included Elections and Recognition

September 30, 2016


At left, Jennifer Engel is pictured with other founding board members of IPEI at “Fifteen and Forward” event at Ithaca High School’s Kulp Auditorium.  Above photograph features Executive Director Steve Manley, President Matthew Braun, and Vice President David Lee.


At its Annual Meeting on September 22, the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) welcomed new board members, re-elected officers, and thanked retiring board member Jennifer Engel for her dedication and service.

Linda Duttweiler and Debbie Whitehead were elected for three-year terms. Ann Caren, Mary Grainger and Connie Patterson were elected to one-year terms.

Matthew Braun was elected to his second term as president of IPEI for 2016-17. David Lee was re-elected as vice president, Rayna King as treasurer, and Kevin Cartmill as secretary.

Continuing board members, in addition to the officers, include Jennifer Biloski, Janine Eng, Janis Graham, Holly Heitzman, Marshall McCormick, Cheryl Mitchell, Joyce Putnam, Monica Touesnard, and Dave Wahl.

Vanessa Wagner and Alice Wu will continue as liaisons to the IPEI board from the Fine Arts Booster Group, and Illa Burbank will continue as liaison with the IthacaSTEM Advocates. Rocio Zepp will be IPEI’s PTA Council liaison.

“The IPEI board’s commitment is respected for its focus on the mission and work to enhance the education of ICSD students while encouraging teachers to innovate,” expressed Executive Director Steven Manley who began his role in late August.

Jennifer Engel was recognized at her last meeting as an IPEI board member for her participation over more than 20 years. She served on the task force that recommended that IPEI be created as a nonprofit organization to facilitate connections between the community and the Ithaca City School District (ICSD). Her leadership included service as vice president and president, as a member of the Development Committee, as a volunteer organizer of the IPEI Adult Spelling Bee, and as a founder of Kids Discover the Trail! Ithaca.


Braun recognized Engel with a board resolution that highlighted her “strong commitment to public education and years of active participation with IPEI that has benefited IPEI, our community and Ithaca’s teachers and students, and has inspired others to join her.” He also remarked that “Jennifer’s abundant joy, love, generosity, and kindness has infused IPEI with her vibrant spirit and positive outlook that will be cherished and emulated by this Board of Directors for years to come.”

Manley and board members also thanked Engel for her inspirational service and leadership to the Ithaca Public Education Initiative. They spoke about her passion, wisdom, humor, energy, thoughtfulness, and dedication that contributed to the organization’s growth and development.

Engel reflected on IPEI’s evolution and about its potential in the future. She expressed, “The possibilities are endless. As IPEI turns 20, we can think about ‘what’s next?’ We play a role in making sure that education in Ithaca is the very best it can be.”


Duttweiler is a retired ICSD elementary level teacher who has served on the IPEI Grants Committee. She is a tutor with Golden Opportunity, a board member with the Ithaca Community Chorus, a member of the ICSD PTA organization, and local leader of the League of Women Voters. Her own children graduated from the ICSD, and she has been involved with the Ithaca College Graduate Program in Elementary Education.

Whitehead is a full-time volunteer who has served on the IPEI Finance Committee and the Grants Committee. She is active with PTAs at Northeast, DeWitt and Ithaca High Schools, and with Code Red Robotics. In the community, she works with Boy Scouts, Ithaca Youth Hockey Association, and Loaves and Fishes. Two of her sons are ICSD graduates, and one is a current student.

Welcome to New School Year!IPEI is “Turning Twenty”