The Prichard Committee team believes that education is the path to a larger life for all Kentuckians. We work to help citizens become informed and engaged advocates for excellence in our state’s educational endeavors. Insight forged from our diverse experiences, our collaboration and commitment to education’s role in creating successful people and communities propel everything we do.

Brigitte Blom

President & CEO
Brigitte Blom is the President & CEO of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. She’s been an education leader for over 20 years, spending time in both public service and professional public policy, maintaining a steadfast commitment to improving the quality of life for Kentuckians through increased education outcomes and opportunities.

Before joining the Prichard Committee, Brigitte was director of public policy for United Way of Greater Cincinnati with a specific focus on early childhood policy. Ms. Blom spent a decade as an elected member of the Board of Education in rural Pendleton County and is the former vice-chair of the Kentucky Board of Education where she served from 2008-2014. Ms. Blom has worked in policy, research, and advocacy on issues related to education, poverty, and state taxes and budgets – including work for universities in Ohio and Kentucky and for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. She holds undergraduate degrees in economics and international studies and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Kentucky Martin School.

In 2022, Brigitte received an honorary doctorate from the University of Pikeville and the Karem Award for Excellence in Education Policy from the Kentucky Board of Education. In 2019, Brigitte was recognized as one of 50 Notable Women in Kentucky Politics and Government, by the Kentucky Gazette, and in 2018, under Brigitte’s leadership, the Prichard Committee received the 24th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. award from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Fun fact about Brigitte: Her high school diploma was handed to her by an elephant!

Laura Beard

Manager - Family Engagement
Laura Beard, a resident of Bracken County, joined the Prichard Committee staff in August 2019 and serves as the Director for the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership. Laura holds a BS in Human Services from the University of the Cumberlands and has more than 15 years of experience leading family engagement initiatives. Laura previously served as the Family Consultant for the Department for Public Health and the Lead Family Contact for two System of Care SAMSHA grants. Laura has three children, serves on her local FRYSC Advisory Council, and is involved in foster/adoptive support work.

Fun Fact about Laura: She has a mini farm with multiple species of livestock

Melody Brooks

Manager - Finance & HR
Melody Brooks joined the Prichard Committee staff in February 2000 as the Grants & Finance Coordinator. She was named Finance and HR Manager in January 2020. Melody’s volunteer activities focus on education and civic organizations. She has served in a variety of roles on several PTA boards and has also served numerous terms on two school-based decision making (SBDM) councils. Melody is an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, Bluegrass Council. She attended Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Melody is the mother of four children, all who have graduated from public school in Lexington, KY.

Fun fact about Melody: She has a goal of traveling to all 50 before she turns 50!

Suzetta Creech

Director - Community Engagement & Chief of Staff
Suzetta Creech joined the staff of the Prichard Committee in November of 2007. Prior to joining the committee, she worked at the University of Kentucky Athletics Association for nine years and served as the Tournament Coordinator for an ATP tennis tournament in Lexington for seven years. She is a 2006 Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership (CIPL) Fellow and has a BA in Education from the University of Kentucky. Suzetta has four adult children that all attended public schools in Fayette County.

Fun Fact about Suzetta: She has a dog named Dolly Parton that also serves as support and confidant to Prichard Committee staff.

Benjamin M. Gies

Director – Early Childhood Policy & Practice
Benjamin Gies serves as Director of Early Childhood Policy and Practice for the Prichard Committee. Ben is recognized as a champion in advocacy by the Child Care Advocates of Kentucky and is earning his Doctorate in Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University. Ben successfully moved several key early childhood initiatives through the Kentucky General Assembly and secured significant federal investment in Kentucky’s early childhood sector. Ben is a graduate of Bellarmine University and the University of Louisville where he attended as a James Madison Memorial Fellow and led civic education at the McConnell Center.

Fun Fact: At 24 years of age, Ben became the youngest citizen to serve on the Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBE).

Brooke Gill

Senior Director – Family Engagement Policy & Practice
Brooke Gill has over 15 years of experience in managing and strategically forming relationships with family leaders, state agencies, local communities, and national workgroups to ensure Kentucky is delivering family-driven, strength-based, and high-impact services for families and children. Prior to joining the Prichard Committee in 2019, Gill served as Kentucky Strengthening Families (KYSF) State Administrator and Master Trainer. Gill’s professional development includes Harvard EdEx Family Engagement, Implicit Bias and Diversity Leadership, EKU Professional Facilitation, Bachelor’s from Murray State University, and a Master’s in Public Administration from Northern Kentucky University.

Fun fact about Brooke: She has two miniature long-haired dachshunds named Snickers and Shadow and is obsessed with Disney World and Christmas.

Susan Perkins Weston

Senior Fellow
Susan Perkins Weston works on education analysis, policy, and implementation.

Her Kentucky work focuses on student achievement, testing policies, teaching quality, and education funding, including projects for the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, the Council for Better Education, the Kentucky Education Action Team, the Kentucky Association of School Councils, and others. With Stephen Clements, she authored “A Glass Half Empty or Half Full? An Overview of the State School Funding Landscape in Kentucky, 1990-2008,” published by the Prichard Committee, and in 2009, Ms. Weston and Robert F. Sexton’s report, “Substantial and Yet Not Sufficient: Kentucky’s Effort to Build Proficiency for Each and Every Child,” was released by the Campaign for Educational Equity.

Since 2010, Ms. Weston has also works with the Literacy Design Collaborative, building out a framework for developing students’ reading, writing and thinking skills in science, history and other subjects, designed to equip teachers to prepare students with the capacities required by the Common Core State Standards.

Ms. Weston was Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of School Councils from 1992 to 2006. She also served as a research analyst at the United States Department of Education and an assistant consumer advocate in the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.

Susan Weston graduated from Swarthmore College (with Highest Honors) and from the Yale Law School. She is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association and the Kentucky League of Women Voters. Her spouse, Beau Weston, teaches at Centre College, and their children are all graduates of the Danville public school system.

Lonnie Harp

Storyteller
Lonnie has worked on various writing and communications projects for the Prichard Committee since 2000. He covered the state education beat for the Courier Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader. Prior to that, he worked for eight years as a reporter and editor at Education Week in Washington, D.C. His work in both Kentucky and in Washington earned awards from the national Education Writers Association. A native of Mayfield and graduate of Murray State, he now lives in Danville where he was elected to two terms as a school board member and was a parent member of a school SBDM council. He also serves as president of the board of trustees for the Boyle County Public Library.