INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 19, 2014) – Project Lead The Way (PLTW), the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs and teacher training, today announced that Tom Luna will join the organization as vice president of policy, advocacy, and research. Luna joins PLTW after serving eight years as the superintendent of public instruction for the state of Idaho.
“Project Lead The Way’s new Policy, Advocacy, and Research team is an excellent opportunity to accelerate PLTW’s growth and give more students access to high-quality STEM education,” said PLTW President and CEO Dr. Vince Bertram. “We can think of no better person to lead this team than Tom Luna. Tom is passionate about education and the economic vitality of the United States. As a former business leader and entrepreneur, and as someone who has dedicated his life in service to children, Tom fully understands what it takes to prepare students to succeed in the global economy. We’re excited to have him guiding our new Policy, Advocacy, and Research team.”
Luna championed several STEM initiatives as superintendent of public instruction. In 2007, he successfully advocated the Idaho Legislature to create the Idaho Math Initiative, a statewide effort to raise student achievement in mathematics. He also helped design and launch the Idaho Science Aerospace Scholars Program with NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan for high school juniors. Luna’s administration made it possible for Idaho students to apply STEM courses like engineering and computer science to their core graduation requirements, and he worked to provide funding to local districts to attract and retain more hard-to-fill STEM positions.
As vice president of policy, advocacy, and research, Luna will oversee a team focused on advancing federal, state, and local policies, as well as research initiatives that support PLTW’s continued growth across the United States. Luna will oversee four regional directors, as well as a team of policy analysts and researchers.
“I am excited to join the Project Lead The Way team. Project Lead The Way’s tremendous growth in recent years is evidence of the important role STEM plays in keeping the U.S. competitive in the global economy, and highlights PLTW’s success in preparing students for higher education and careers in STEM fields,” Luna said. “This opportunity will allow me to continue to focus on my passion and personal mission to ensure that all children are prepared to succeed in the world where they will live and work. I look forward to helping expand access to engaging learning opportunities for students across America.”
Prior to serving as state superintendent, Luna served on the Nampa School Board for seven years, including three as chairman. He was appointed by former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt to lead the Idaho Achievement Standards Commission, and was appointed to chair the Idaho Assessment and Accountability Commission by former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. Luna served as a senior advisor to then-U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige from 2003 to 2005, and has served as president of the Council of Chief State School Officers. He currently sits on the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the Nation’s Report Card. Luna has an extensive business background; in addition to his roles in local, state, and national education, Luna served as owner and president of an industrial weights and measures company for more than 20 years. He and his wife Cindy have six adult children and are the proud grandparents of 10.
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. PLTW’s world-class, activity-, project, and problem-based curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate partners, help students develop the skills needed to succeed in our global economy. More than 6,000 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are currently offering PLTW courses to their students. For more information, visit www.pltw.org.