Meet the BOE
The Bethlehem Central Board of Education is composed of seven members who serve three-year terms. Members are elected by the voters in the district to establish policy and direct the administration of our schools. As your representatives, the Board exercises the community’s rights to citizen control over public education. Every Board of Education in the State of New York has legal and financial control over local school matters, subject only to limitations imposed by the United States Constitution, federal law, state law, regulations of the Commissioner of Education and, of course, the will of local residents as expressed in local elections.
MATT DOWNEY, PRESIDENT
Term: July 1, 2014-June 30, 2017
Matt was first elected to the Board in 2008. He and his wife, Debra, have two children: Peter, a BCHS graduate and a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College; and Laura, also a graduate of BCHS who attends Hartwick College. They have lived in Bethlehem since 1991. Matt graduated from Siena College with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in Accounting. For the past 30-plus years, Matt has held various positions in New York State agencies. He is currently a member of the executive staff at New York State Higher Education Services Corporation serving as Senior Vice President and Audit Director. Matt is a former board member of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Albany County and the Bethlehem Soccer Club.
LYNNE L. LENHARDT, VICE PRESIDENT
Term: July 1, 2015-June 30, 2018
Lynne L. Lenhardt was first elected to the Bethlehem Central Board of Education in 1988 and has served as president and vice president. She has also been a member of the Capital Region BOCES Board since 1997, also leading that board as president and vice president. She is also on the Tech Valley High School Operating Board. Lynne was elected to the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) Board of Directors in 2001 representing about 70 school districts in seven counties in the greater Capital Region. In 2013 and 2014, she was elected President of NYSSBA and is currently serving as Immediate Past President. Prior to her election to the board, Lynne served as president of the Slingerlands PTA. Lynne received a master’s degree from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and formerly taught high school social studies. She also worked as an adjunct college instructor of mathematics and worked in the New York State Legislature. Presently, she is a substitute teacher and does private math tutoring. Lynne lives in Delmar with her husband George and has two grown children, Brian and Kimberly, both graduates of BCHS.
Term: July 1, 2014-June 30, 2017
Christine was first elected to the Board of Education in 2014. She and her husband Peter have been district residents since 2001 and have three children: Kyle, a sophomore at James Madison University; Delaney, a tenth grade student at the Academy of the Holy Names and Aidan, who is a freshman at BCHS. Christine is currently a Senior Internal Auditor for American National Insurance Company, Glenmont. She has 25 years of Property & Casualty experience and has held various positions at American National (formerly Farm Family Insurance) and Progressive Insurance Company. Christine was treasurer of the Glenmont, PTA and is an active volunteer in the community. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a minor in Human Resource Management from SUNY Oswego, a paralegal degree from Adelphi University and holds the following insurance designations, FCLA, SCLA, CCLA and PCLA.
MICHAEL W. COOPER
Term: July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019
Michael Cooper was first elected to the Board of Education in May 2010. He is the director of publications at The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. A district resident for 26 years, Michael and his wife, Laura, have two children, Brian, who graduated from New York University and works for Adafruit, Inc. in New York City, and Alex, who graduated in 2010 from BCHS and is a graduate student at the University at Binghamton.
Term: July 1, 2014- June 30, 2017
Joanne was first appointed to the Board in August 2013 to fill an unexpired term and was elected in 2014 to a 3 year term. She and her husband Brent Meredith have lived in the District for 16 years and have three children attending BC schools (two at the high school, and one at the middle school) and one who recently graduated from BCHS and is a sophomore at the University of Maryland. Joanne is currently the President of the Home Care Association of New York State, and has held association leadership positions at the Healthcare Trustees of New York State and the Healthcare Association of New York State. In addition, she also has held various positions in the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and in the Washington, DC office of former Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer. Joanne holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from SUNY Potsdam and a Master of Health Science degree in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. She has completed an executive leadership program at the Harvard Business School. In 2015, Joanne was also elected to the Albany County Legislature representing central Delmar..
Term: July 1, 2016-June 30, 2019
CHARMAINE L. WIJEYESINGHE, Ed. D.
Term: July 1, 2015-June 30, 2018
Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe was first elected to the Board in May of 2009 and served as Vice President from 2014 to 2016. She and her husband, Christian Lietzau, have lived in Delmar for 19 years and have two children, Andreas who attended Bethlehem schools and is currently enrolled as a junior at Stony Brook University, and Rebecca who is in the 11th grade at BCHS. Charmaine received her Bachelor of Science, Master of Education, and Doctorate of Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Charmaine has been a consultant and author on issues of social justice for over 30 years. Her clients include colleges and universities, corporations, and not for profit organizations. She also lectures at national conferences on diversity and race. Charmaine held several positions and taught at the University of Massachusetts, and was the Dean of Students at Mount Holyoke College. Prior to moving to Delmar, she was on the staff of the National Conference for Community and Justice, providing social justice curriculum and board training for 62 regional offices around the country. Charmaine has edited (with Bailey W. Jackson) two volumes on racial identity theory and is currently working on a book on intersectionality and student affairs practice. She has published numerous other book chapters and articles, and provides editorial and author support to private clients and authors developing manuscripts for the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity. Before her election to the Board of Education, Charmaine served on the Board of the Elsmere PTA for four years and was a member of the District’s Citizens Budget Committee for 2 years.