BOARD OF EDUCATION BIOS
2017 – 2021
Board of Education President Debra E. Gerkin
Debbie Gerkin’s entire teaching career took place in Aurora, including her tenure as principal of Crawford Elementary School. But that wasn’t the first time Crawford appeared in her family’s story — Debbie’s husband Phil Gerkin went to Crawford — and her husband’s mother went to Crawford! All three of Debbie’s daughters graduated from Gateway High School, and now three of her grandchildren are students at Aurora Quest K-8. Debbie’s husband taught in Aurora, and two of her daughters teach in Aurora now. In retirement, Debbie has worked as an instructional coach and mentor for new teachers in APS.
But education is not her only passion. Being bi-vocational, Debbie is also a clergywoman. For over 25 years, she has shared ministry with Fireside Christian Church, a Home Church for Metro Denver.
And in her free time? Debbie loves to read, to quilt and to travel. She’s a member of the Rotary Club of Aurora and plays golf with her husband in the Aurora Couples League. Debbie and Phil have been married for 46 years. Together they have three grown children, six grandchildren and a yorkie-schnauzer mix named Cookie.
Debbie earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, her Master of Divinity degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, her Teacher Licensure from Regis College at Loretto Heights in Denver, and she completed her Educational Leadership and Policy Studies degree from the University of Colorado at Denver. Debbie is currently working on her Doctor of Ministry degree and hopes to complete it soon.
Board of Education Vice President Stephanie Mason
Stephanie Mason was born in Philadelphia to Frederick and Gwendolyn Gordon. She has been married for 41 years to Albert Mason, Jr. and blessed with two daughters, Gwendolyn Nicole Mason and Shatonya Lachelle Mason. She is also the grandmother of Jeremiah, a senior at Rangeview High School, and Janay, a Rangeview sophomore. Both Stephanie’s father and her husband are retired from the U.S. Air Force. During her time as an Air Force spouse, she served as president of the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officers) Wives Club.
Stephanie earned her Bachelor of Science. in Sociology with a Minor in Psychology from Black Hills State University in South Dakota, where she also was the Vice President of the Black Student Union. After graduation, she interned with the Department of Human Services as a Social Worker providing support and resource information for families. After her internship, she was hired by Girls Incorporated to advocate and provide resources for at-risk girls. She also volunteered for the Troubled Teens Girls Hotline.
In 1995, after Albert retired from the Air Force, they moved to Colorado, falling in love with the state after years of visiting Stephanie’s parents who moved here after her father's Air Force retirement. Aurora spoke to them, which is where they decided to settle with their daughters.
Stephanie's activism in the Aurora community includes being chosen as the Precinct Committee Person for the Colorado House of Representatives District 36 and later elected to the 1st Chair position for HD36. Through her parents and friends, she is a member of the Main Ingredients and Crafty Bunch, who are dedicated to supporting students with the mission of raising funds to grant scholarships to students entering college.
Stephanie's road to election as an Aurora School Board at-large member started when she visited the school her grandchildren were attending, Columbia Middle School. She involved herself in the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO), helping to raise funds through activities and other community efforts to highlight Columbia. The following year she was elected President of the PTSO, which she held for more than three years. One of her major accomplishments as president was organizing the first campus tour of Metro State University for Columbia’s eighth-grade students. This is now a tradition at Columbia. She also partnered with another parent, Pat Davis, to create an after-school program called SAWS (Striving and Will Success) to assist middle school girls with low self-esteem and to empower and support them to succeed. Stephanie's demonstrated passion for community and youth grew her resolve and reputation as someone who gets things done. She was asked by the Aurora Education Association to run as a Board candidate...and won!
Her motto is: Our children are our living messages we send to a future we will never see.Board of Education Secretary Michael Carter
Mr. Carter owns and operates his own law firm in Aurora and has done so for almost 15 years. Prior to starting his law firm, he worked for a local medical malpractice firm during law school and proudly served as a Deputy State Public Defender out of the Arapahoe County Trial Office.
Mr. Carter was born in Austin, Texas. As a third generation soldier and certified “Army brat”, he lived in Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Olsterholz-Scharmbeck. Germany. Evenually, Mr. Carter's family returned to Texas where he graduated from Round Rock High School in Round Rock, Texas. While in school, Mr. Carter was a part of the track team, football team, Junior Reserve Officers Training Core (JROTC) and Academic Pentathlon. Prior to graduation in his Junior year, he signed up to join the Army under the Delayed Entry Program (DEP).
Mr. Carter spent 10 years in the Army: four years of active duty, one year of reserve duty and five years of inactive reserve duty. During his time in the military he was stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Fort Carson, Colorado, earning several badges and awards.
Mr. Carter then attended the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, with a double major in African- American Studies and Political Science. He joined the rugby team and after his graduation was awarded an induction to the UNM Rugby Hall of Fame. Upon graduation from the University of New Mexico, Mr. Carter immediately moved to Denver, Colorado, to attend law school at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, where he graduated with a Doctor of Jurisprudence.
He is an avid comic book fan and a lover of the the Pittsburgh Steelers, the University of Texas Longhorns and the University of New Mexico Lobos.
Board of Education Treasurer Nichelle Ortiz
Nichelle Ortiz is the mother of two current Aurora Public Schools students and one APS alumnus. She is a Colorado native and has called Aurora home for the last 17 years. Nichelle has volunteered in APS classrooms for more than 10 years.
Nichelle graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013. Nichelle is employed by the Colorado Department of Human Services in the division of Food and Energy Assistance supporting SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Outreach Programs throughout the state of Colorado. Nichelle has worked in the area of community nutrition with a focus on addressing food access in underserved populations for the last nine years.
Nichelle brings valuable life experiences to the Board, having been a teen mother and the first in her family to attend college. Nichelle has an understanding of what it is to be a non-traditional student and what it means to take the unbeaten path but ultimately find your way in life.
Nichelle has been married to her husband Efrén Ortiz for 17 years. She enjoys cooking, traveling and learning about different cultures from all over the world. Nichelle is honored and humbled to serve the beautifully-diverse students and families of APS as a Board of Education Treasurer and Director.Board of Education Director Tramaine Duncan
Board of Education Director Dr. Anne Keke
Her professional training is in all aspects of criminal justice, including the Management, administration, continuous review and analysis, planning, development and general effectiveness of social programs. She has expertise in organizational leadership in conjunction with risk and crisis management, conflict resolution and program management. From 2010 to 2012, Dr. Keke worked with the District Attorney's Office in the 18th Judicial District in Littleton, Colorado, and the Arapahoe County Juvenile Probation Department. During this time, she worked with both juveniles and adults,
Presently, Dr. Keke holds the position of instructor of Career Readiness with the Colorado Early Colleges and holds the position of Restorative Justice Coordinator. After teaching, she utilizes the rest of her time is to ensure that relationships between students and instructors, between administrative body and instructors, and the relationship between instructor and instructor are at their best. She also provides resources to mitigate litigations and issues among different bodies in a professional manner, to ensure that the school environment is positive and safe for the administrative body, instructors as well as students. Prior to her role with Colorado Early Colleges, Dr. Keke was a Business Data Analyst for UnitedHealth Group, where she was responsible for analyzing employees' personal data and ensure that clients' information was favorable for the best benefits they could receive.
As an aside, Dr. Keke is also an active member of the African Leadership Group (ALG, USA), where she dedicates her time speaking about the importance of equal education for all in Colorado. To date, she has testified before the Colorado Board of Education, spoke before several educational advocate organizations and facilitated many workshops for education stakeholders and parents.
Dr. Anne Keke holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Colorado Denver and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Colorado Technical University. In 2019 she received a Doctorate (D.M) in Management with a Minor in Criminal Justice from Colorado Technical University Aurora, CO. In her free time, Dr. Keke likes to explore the mountains and dedicates most of her time to her family.Board of Education Director Vicki Reinhard
Vicki Reinhard was born at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. She moved to Aurora in 1987 with her husband, Tony, and two young sons as her husband changed jobs. The Reinhards have been residents of Aurora ever since, and Vicki has had continuous ties to Aurora Public Schools.
Vicki earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Wayne State College, Nebraska, majoring in Social Sciences. Her teaching career began in Omaha, where she worked for one year as a district substitute and four and a half years as an eighth- grade Language Arts/Social Studies teacher at Lewis and Clark Junior High School. After moving to Aurora, Vicki worked as a substitute teacher in both the Cherry Creek School District and Aurora Public Schools, which allowed her some flexibility to be at home with her young sons.
Vicki worked as a counselor and teacher at Excelsior Youth Center in Aurora while pursuing an endorsement in Special Education at the University of Denver. Soon after completing this endorsement, she began working as an elementary special education teacher in APS at Kenton Elementary School, where she taught for 20 years, and then at Montview Elementary School, from where she retired in 2018. Vicki is a 25-year veteran teacher of APS and her career spanned 36 years! Working with and advocating for children has always been her passion.
Vicki has been married to Tony Reinhard for 37 years. Tony manages a construction supply branch in the Denver area. They are the parents of two sons, Tony and Donald, both Rangeview High School graduates. The Reinhards are also proud grandparents of three beautiful grandchildren: Ava, DJ, and Declan.
In her free time, Vicki enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling, especially to see family and try to keep up with their activities!