NCGE Board Election

Each fall, individual members of the National Council for Geographic Education cast their ballots for the annual NCGE Board election using the slate of candidates prepared by the NCGE Nominating Committee. Each candidate is asked to prepare and submit biographical information along with a personal statement.  The highest number of votes serve a three–year term in office. Election results are reported at the annual meeting.

Meet the Slate of Candidates for the 2023 Board of Directors Election

We hope you will join us in offering congratulations and wishing good luck to this year’s candidates. NCGE acknowledges and appreciates the time and commitment that elected candidates are willing to make toward ensuring the viability and growth of NCGE. 

We also recognize and wish to thank the members  for taking a vested interest in NCGE’s growth by casting your vote. Your ongoing involvement is crucial for the continued growth and impact that NCGE has toward advancing Geography Education.  We would also like to thank the members of the Nomination Committee who worked hard to produce a solid lineup of candidates for this year’s election.


This person will serve a three-year term on the NCGE Board of Directors; serving as president-elect in 2024, president in 2025, and past-president in 2026. The President is responsible for the leadership of the Board of Directors including presiding at all Board meetings and the General Assembly. The president works closely with the executive director and other officers in ensuring the organization is financially sound and setting priorities of NCGE for the calendar year. The president promotes recognition of geography, geographic education and the interests of the Board in forums where significant decisions affecting the primary interests of NCGE may be made.


My name is Phillip Hare and I currently teach geography at Taylorsville High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. The first 11 years of my career were spent teaching in South Carolina and I’m in my fifth year teaching in Utah after moving across the country in 2019. My teaching experience includes state standard geography in both South Carolina and Utah, AP Human Geography, IB Geography HL, and an introductory human geography course at the university level. Outside of the classroom, I’ve worked with district-level curriculum and assessment projects in both South Carolina and Utah, as well as state-level projects including standards writing, resource creation, and standards training. I’ve also had the great fortune of working with the South Carolina Geographic Alliance to plan and facilitate professional development for geography teachers. I received the NCGE K-12 Distinguished Teaching Award in 2012.

After spending 2023 as part of NCGE’s Board of Directors, I am running for President to help further build NCGE’s capacity to provide unique experiences for teachers and students. I have four goals for my service as President of NCGE:

  • Expand our professional development for educators at all levels.
  • Strengthen existing teacher resources that support instruction in and out of the classroom.
  • Amplify outreach efforts that connect educators with each other.
  • Broaden relationships with geography education groups across different scales.

Geographic knowledge helps solve problems and make better decisions. As president of NCGE, I will work to help our members communicate this every day.


This person will serve a three-year term on the NCGE Board of Directors. Directors attend virtual board meetings once a month to discuss and vote on significant decisions affecting the primary interests of NCGE and its members. Directors may chair committees and/or other initiatives of NCGE.


I am a lifetime member of NCGE and have presented at several of your outstanding conferences. I taught Geography in public school and just recently retired from teaching the subject nearly a decade to federal inmates as part of their required GED program. Now that I’m retired, I am looking forward to getting more involved in NCGE.

When I began teaching geography I had not taken a geography class since I was a freshman in high school. While I loved the subject, I really had no idea how to engage my students with the material. Organizations like NCGE provided the support and resources I needed to make my class dynamic, relevant, and rigorous – to get my students to love geography as much as I do. Over the years, I have worked to give back to the geography education community through the development of lessons and curriculum projects for NCGE, the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education, and other organizations and publishers. As a PhD candidate in geography education, I am committed to continuing this work. I feel that NCGE will continue to be the leading organization for geography education in America. As a member of the board, I would like to continue the important work of recruiting the next generation of geography teachers and ensuring that they have guidance, materials and training they need to prepare our students to be geographically literate citizens of the world.

I currently serve as professor and chair of the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at the University of Oklahoma and coordinator and past president of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education
(OKAGE). I have been involved with OKAGE in various capacities over the past 25+ years and I have worked throughout my career to advance geographical knowledge and promote the importance of geography in education across the entire K-20 spectrum. I firmly believe that the holistic and integrative skills taught as part of geographic education are integral to modern industries and vital to our environmental, economic, and societal health. My leadership role in a state-level alliance illustrates my ability to foster collaboration, develop educational resources, and advocate for geographic education at the local, regional, and state level. I have been involved with NCGE in the past by being a member, attending and presenting at conferences, nominating Oklahoma teachers for NCGE awards, and publishing in the Geography Teacher. I hope to expand my contribution to NCGE through serving on the board of directors. If elected to the board I will leverage my expertise in curriculum development, teacher training, and promoting geographic literacy to support NCGE’s mission to advance and advocate for geography education nationwide. My proven track record of effective leadership and dedication to enhancing geographic education, including separate awards for outstanding teaching and service and community engagement, make me a strong candidate for a board position
within NCGE, where I will try to further the organization’s mission on a broader scale.

I grew up with the yellow covers, the photos, and the stories of National Geographic, envisioning my own exploration of our world and its inhabitants. When I was younger, I journeyed abroad to the UK, France, Canada, and Mexico. In my adult life, a lack of personal resources stymied my wanderlust. In the classroom, storytelling from personal experience is key to sparking a passion for travel and global citizenry in others. There are nuances to understanding the experience and value of diverse cultures that simply cannot be read in a textbook.

In 2016, I thought it was time to address this crucially missing ingredient in my quest to be the best teacher possible. Enter NCGE and the GeoCamp Iceland Educator Program. Immersing myself in a totally new environment, actually seeing what elements contribute to the island’s unique sense of place was both mind and life-changing. I incorporated Iceland into my classroom, wrote a travel blog, delivered presentations outside of school, published a lesson plan in The Geography Teacher, and even took a group of high school students to the GeoCamp program in 2019. I attribute these opportunities to the people and programming of NCGE.

During my professional life I have been a psychologist, a business consultant, and now a secondary school teacher. In each of these roles, I have been able to explore my lifelong fascination with the varied elements that combine to make each individual into a unique cocktail of human experience. I remain fascinated by the dynamic interactions between the individual, the family, school environments, physical environment, politics, media, and overall cultural values. Understanding this complex interplay fuels my passion for teaching the subjects that I do. This is what inspires me to run for a position on the NCGE Board of Directors. As a board member, I see my goals as:
While we already do an excellent job encouraging geo-literacy, can we broaden our approach? Be more cross-disciplinary by blending the spatial with the temporal? Partner again with NCSS, or other fields like business, international relations, or psychology? Continue to expand on our resource offerings, informing our membership about opportunities. Professional development options like webinars, conferences, and the educator trips are of crucial importance. Can we do or offer more? Building and providing support for our educators, with administration and the community at large. This is a practical subject that students engage in with enthusiasm. But this is also a difficult time to be an educator teaching what many regard as “controversial.”

As an educator for almost 20 years, I have had the opportunity to be a member of many different professional organizations. Through my years as a teacher consultant for the Arizona Geographic Alliance, I would always see the great things that NCGE provided as resources for teachers. After transitioning from the high school classroom to the Arizona Geographic Alliance and working on a Ph.D. in Geography Education, I have enjoyed being a more regular member of NCGE. In addition to creating and implementing professional development for K-12 teachers, I am an Arizona Council for the Social Studies board member. During the previous years, I have attended and presented virtually and in person at multiple NCGE conferences and recorded NCGE webinars. After hearing presentations at this last NCGE conference, I saw the paths and ideas forming within NCGE. Therefore, I would love to bring my knowledge and representation of educators at multiple levels of K-16 geography education to the NCGE board. It would be an honor to be a part of the next trail NCGE blazes for geography education.

My name is Jonathan Wessell and I teach primarily at Grand Valley State University. I have been teaching for 25 years in higher education in both Geography and Environmental Science. In the past decade I have served as VP and Chair of Geography Education Specialty Group at the AAG. I have worked closely with my colleagues over my years on many sessions in Experiential Learning. I used those years of work to publish a book on Experiential Learning in Geography and have just started work on a second edition of that book. My involvement with the NCGE started in Denver and again in Austin, then COVID hit. I will again be joining colleagues in Columbia this year. I have already worked with many of the board through the AAG or the AP Human Geography Reading. I count it a privilege to be nominated for the board and believe that I bring leadership expertise as well as my years of knowledge in teaching Geography.

Review the candidates above, then 

Poll closes OCTOBER 27, 2023 at 11:59 pm (EDT)

You must be a current NCGE member to vote. If you have forgotten your password,
go to “Forgot your password” and use the email associated with your NCGE account to create a new password.