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Dr. L. Earl Franks to Serve as Executive Director of National Principals Association

Reston, Va. — Steven D. Geis, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), announced today that Dr. L. Earl Franks has been selected by the NAESP Board to assume the role of executive director effective July 1, 2017. Franks currently serves as executive director of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS), Alabama's leading umbrella organization for principals and school administrators. "I am very appreciative and grateful to the NAESP Board of Directors for placing their trust in me to help further our mission, which is 'to lead in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle-level principals and other education leaders in their commitment to all children,'" said Franks.

In his nine years as CLAS executive director, Franks has been the driving force behind the organization's innovation and growth. He administered a multimillion-dollar budget and managed tens of millions of dollars in grants. Under his leadership, CLAS achieved record membership levels in the midst of challenges such as budget cuts and rising health care costs.

"NAESP is the only national organization dedicated solely to our nation's elementary and middle-level principals and the children they serve, and I have every confidence that Franks will leverage his tremendous assets and deep knowledge to direct NAESP toward continued growth and future success," said Geis.

The announcement comes at a time of significant importance for our nation's principals, given the change in our nation's administration and the implementation stage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Now, more than ever, principals need a strong voice on federal education policy as well as state and local implementation to ensure a well-rounded and complete education that starts with early learning. In recent years, NAESP has expanded its work in aligning pre-K through grade 3 learning, mentor training and development, strengthening the principal pipeline among early career principals, and leveraging after-school and summer learning and arts-infused education.

"I am extremely honored and humbled to be selected for this opportunity of a lifetime-to lead one of America's most important and iconic organizations for education: NAESP," said Franks. "This position will allow me the opportunity to take my experiences-which include over 31 years in education as a teacher, principal, and state association executive director-to the national and international level. I will build on the tradition of this great organization and expand the reach of my passion for education and helping school leaders improve," he continued.

Prior to serving as CLAS executive director, Franks served as a leader on the CLAS Board of Directors; before that, he developed broad experience in public education by working with the school system from top to bottom, and in all grades. Franks served as a principal from 1999 until 2008 at a pre-K through grade 12 school that served over 1,000 students. Prior to that, he earned a glowing reputation as an award-winning band director.

Franks is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow with Major Donor distinction from Rotary International and has received leadership awards from the Alabama Music Educators Association and Troy University Music Department. He is a member of the Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame Governing Board, ASAE, Phi Delta Kappa International, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, ASCD, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Franks holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership from Samford University, a B.M.E. in music and an ED.S. in administration from Troy University. He also earned a certified association executive (CAE) credential from the ASAE Center for Association Leadership.

Franks will join NAESP on July 1, 2017, just prior to the National Principals Conference, which is presented jointly with the National Association of Secondary School Principals and will be held July 9-11 in Philadelphia.

In August 2016, NAESP's current executive director, Gail Connelly, announced her retirement following a planned transition and search for a new executive director. Connelly served as executive director for 10 years, and in recognition of her 32 years of service to NAESP, she will serve as NAESP Executive Director Emeritus upon her retirement.

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