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Agency of Education Leadership Team

Vermont Secretary of Education Zoie Saunders

Zoie Saunders, Secretary

For nearly two decades, Zoie Saunders, M.Ed. has dedicated her career to improving student outcomes, opening pathways to careers and college for all students, and ensuring that every student has access to a great public school. Saunders has family roots in rural America and was raised with strong values around collective advocacy, experiences that have shaped her professional focus on equity, access, and opportunity.

Through her career in education, Saunders has earned a reputation for being an effective, results-oriented leader and a fiscally responsible manager. She is also a proven and trusted collaborator with educators, parents, state and local officials, and civic leaders.

Saunders has had clear and measurable success supporting educators and students in public schools across the country. As the Vice President of Strategy for Charter Schools USA, she led the school improvement strategy for a network of more than 80 public charter schools across seven states which served more than 70,000 students. In this role, the proportion of schools earning an A or B grade doubled within two years and school achievement scores increased an average of 41 percent. Since 2019, Saunders has worked at the district level. She most recently oversaw strategy and innovation for Broward County Public Schools, one of the nation’s largest school districts. Her work as Chief Education Officer for the City of Ft. Lauderdale was recognized by the Biden Administration’s U.S. Department of Labor, National League of Cities, and Neighborhoods USA.

Saunders attended Harvard University as an undergraduate and has an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. While pursuing her M.Ed. at Vanderbilt, she supported the Obama Administration’s Promise Neighborhood Initiative. Saunders enjoys volunteering and most recently served on the Broward County Public Schools Parent and Community Involvement Task Force and Broward County Public School Caliber Award Committee.

Saunders’ family lives in Vermont. She has two school-aged children who attend public schools in Florida and will enroll in public school in Vermont when her family moves to the state full time later this year.

heather bouchey

Heather Bouchey, Deputy Secretary

Deputy Secretary Heather Bouchey was appointed to the position in September 2015. She oversees all programmatic Divisions within the Agency of Education including Education Quality, Federal Education Support Programs, Student Pathways, and Student Support Services. As Deputy, Dr. Bouchey is currently responsible for over $312M in state and federal funding.

She earned her Bachelor of Science at Cornell University and Ph.D. at the University of Denver, with postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan. Dr. Bouchey has published extensively in the fields of education and psychology. Before joining state government, she was a psychology professor at the University of Vermont and Associate Provost at Lyndon State College. She values team development and collaborative problem-solving, as well as bringing data to bear on policy solutions. She has also engaged in mentoring roles throughout her career. Dr. Bouchey is currently a Commissioner for the Education Commission of the States and Delegate to the New England Board of Higher Education. She sits on both the Vermont Justice for Children Task Force and the Vermont Advisory Council on Child Poverty. She is also a member of the President’s Council for Cornell Women.

Having come from humble economic roots, Dr. Bouchey is deeply committed to ensuring that all students have access to meaningful educational opportunities that improve their chances for life success. Her postsecondary experiences as a first-generation college student profoundly shaped her identity and professional interests. She resides in Montpelier, VT with her family and a recalcitrant, but well-loved, English setter mix.


Bill Bates

Bill Bates, CFO

William Bates is the Agency of Education’s Chief Financial Officer. He is responsible for the agency’s education finance, business office and administrative services functions. Mr. Bates has significant professional experience working in financial services, governmental and nonprofit organizations. He began his career at the Montpelier-based accounting firm of Sullivan & Powers, and from 1998–2014 worked at National Life Insurance Company where he served as Senior Auditor, 2nd Vice President for Treasury Operations, and as the Strategic Leader/Project Manager for the Financial Management Group.

A Certified Public Accountant and Project Management Professional, Bill launched his own consulting firm, wtb & Associates, LLC of Barre, VT, in 2014. As a consultant, some of his major projects included working with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Vermont to create, brand, launch and market their Organizational Efficiency Program – Blue IDEAs – (Initiatives Deserving Exploratory Analysis) which enabled the company to lower its operating expenses by over one and a half million dollars. At Copley Health Services, he served as Manager of their$12.5M Certificate of Need Strategic Initiative, which replaced their existing 40-year-old facility with a new state-of-the-art surgical suite.

A native of central Vermont, Bill has served on a variety of volunteer and community based organizations, including serving as a former school board member and an elected town auditor. He has been an active volunteer at U-32 Middle and Senior High School where he has participated as a mentor, coach and booster club volunteer. He and his wife are co-chairs of the Vermont Fresh Air Fund. In his free time, Mr. Bates enjoys training for and participating in obstacle course races and riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Anne Bordonaro

Anne Bordonaro, Director of Federal Programs

Anne Bordonaro is Division Director of Federal and Education Support Programs at the Vermont Agency of Education. In this role, she has responsibility for three teams: Consolidated Federal Programs, which oversees implementation of supplemental educational programs (e.g., Title 1, Title II, homeless and migrant) funded through the federal Every Student Succeeds Act; Child Nutrition, which oversees implementation of all USDA-funded school meals programs, as well as meal programs at the state’s early education and elder care centers; and Student and Educator Support, which oversees home study, State-placed students, driver’s education, and several school health (i.e., drug, alcohol & tobacco and mental health) grant programs.

Anne earned her Bachelor of Arts at Grinnell College and PhD at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her doctoral research explored how to promote civic dialogue and perspective-taking in history education and was conducted in an international setting. Prior to coming to the AOE in 2000, Dr. Bordonaro was a social studies teacher in New York City and educational researcher with the Carnegie Corporation of New York. She worked in educator quality at the AOE for many years before assuming her current role. The aspects of her work she loves most include collaborating with other AOE Divisions and with the field to ensure effective uses of federal funding and avoid duplicative processes. She is deeply committed to ensuring that all students have access to meaningful and equitable educational opportunities that improve their chances for personal success and satisfaction and enable them to participate as effective citizens.

Jess DeCarolis, Director of Student Pathways


Tracey Delphia, Director of IT, Director of Digital Services

Prior to her appointment as the Director of IT for the Agency of Education, Tracey Delphia spent 13 years applying technology to business processes for the Department of Corrections. She holds a BS in Computer Information Systems from Castleton University and is a 2020 graduate of the Vermont Certified Public Manager program (VCPM). She is a member of the American Academy of Certified Public Managers (AACPM).

Tracey is excited to be working in Education and hopes to bring solutions to the agency for the continued improvement of how the organization supports and enhances education across the state.

Ted Fisher

Ted Fisher, Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs

Ted Fisher has worked for the Vermont Agency of Education since March of 2018 and has served in his current role since September of 2018. He is passionate about public sector communications and public engagement and particularly enjoys the challenge of communicating complex public policy clearly, concisely and accessibly. He loves working for AOE because there are plenty of challenging and complex things to talk about and he learns new things every day.

Prior to joining the agency, Ted served as the public information officer for the Town of East Hartford Connecticut, and as a digital communications specialist for the Connecticut General Assembly. He also worked for U.S. Representative Joe Courtney. He has a BA in Government, German Studies and international studies from Connecticut College. A native of Chittenden County, Ted lives in Shelburne with his wife Rose, daughter Niamh and cats, Red and Roxy.


Maureen Gaidys

Maureen Gaidys, Executive Staff Assistant

Maureen Gaidys started her career as a credit analyst for Fleet Bank, worked for the NH Governor’s Office of Energy as a Fuel Assistance Program monitor, and then became a residential counselor for delinquent girls at a group home in Antrim, NH. In 1998, she moved back to Vermont and worked for several years as a case manager for foster and adoptive families through Easter Seals. Shortly thereafter she became Assistant Director at the Math-Science Upward Bound program at Vermont Technical College. She came to the Agency, (then Department) in 2007. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Consumer Studies from the University of Vermont. Maureen comes from a family of educators – her mom is a retired 4th grade teacher, her paternal grandmother taught multiple grades in a one-room schoolhouse and her paternal grandfather was a science teacher and principal in Randolph for many years.


emily simmons


Emily Simmons, General Counsel

Prior to her appointment as General Counsel, Emily Simmons served as Assistant Attorney General for the Agency of Education. Before joining state government, Emily was the Director of Legal and Policy Services at the Vermont School Boards Association. In that capacity, she served on the Harassment, Hazing and Bullying Prevention Council and the Justice for Children Task Force. Emily was nominated for Outright Vermont’s Bill Lippert Award in 2017. She is a graduate of Vermont Law School.