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Former Forest Hills superintendent selected as new director of area education advocacy   

Kent ISD — The Kent ISD School Board has selected former Forest Hills superintendent Dan Behm to be the next executive director of Education Advocates of West Michigan.

Behm will be replacing Chris Glass, who resigned as executive director this summer for a position with the global insurance brokerage and risk management services firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Behm is expected to start his new position in January after the holiday break.

Education Advocates of West Michigan, a collaborative of Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa Area ISDS, advocates for a student-centered budget and policy agenda. It works for fuller state funding, legislative policy reform and ensuring students are college- and career-ready. 

Behm was one of five applicants interviewed for the position. A panel narrowed those applicants down to three, who along with a second interview did a presentation and performance task. The Kent ISD School Board approved hiring Behm for the executive director position at its Dec. 18 meeting. 

“Dan’s extensive  K-12 experience, the relationships he has formed in his three decades in public education, and his understanding of legislative issues that impact schools made him the unanimous choice for this position,” said Ron Gorman, Kent ISD assistant superintendent of instructional services. “He will undoubtedly hit the ground running to provide much-needed legislative advocacy for Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon counties.” 

Behm has been in education for 30 years, first as a teacher and the last 22 as superintendent for Carman-Ainsworth schools, near Flint, and then for Forest Hills, where he retired in the summer of 2023. Behm also has been active with the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators. Behm said those experiences have taught him many things.

“One of the more important things that I learned is that it’s vital to build understanding with elected officials and policymakers at the state and federal level,” he said. “Teaching kids is complex and dynamic work and we can achieve the best results when the experience of the classroom and the needs of students remain at the center of decisions at all levels.” 

He said he is grateful to have the opportunity to serve the more than 40 school districts that are in Muskegon, Kent and Ottawa counties.

“Our youth are the future and our PK-12 schools and our schools are the incubators for students’ skills, knowledge, and mindsets that will build a better world,” Behm said. “I am honored to be a conduit for the voices of all those who selflessly serve our students.”

Read more from Kent ISD: 
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Leaders in achievement pass the touch

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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