Agency Planning Council

The Agency Planning Council is comprised of Heartland AEA’s senior administrators. The Council meets weekly to discuss issues and make decisions about the Agency’s overall operation.

Cindy YelickCindy Yelick

Chief Administrator

Joined the Agency: 2023

Cindy Yelick serves as Heartland AEA’s chief administrator. In this role, she serves as the Agency’s chief executive officer with responsibility for overseeing the Agency’s day-to-day operation and strategic planning in conjunction with the Board of Directors. 

Prior to joining Heartland AEA, Dr. Yelick was the chief administrator at Great Prairie AEA, serving the students and educators of southeastern Iowa for six years. Prior to this position, she was the deputy chief administrator at Heartland AEA. Yelick has previously held positions as executive director of instructional services, administrator for Iowa Core Curriculum, executive director of teaching and learning and a regional coordinator at Heartland AEA; director of early childhood, assessment and special education and elementary principal at Ames Community Schools; elementary principal at Des Moines Public Schools; director of McPrep Middle School Academy at Drake University; and assistant administrator at Spring Branch ISD in Houston, Texas.

Ed.D. degree, educational leadership, Drake University 
Master’s degree, curriculum & instruction, second language education, University of Houston
Bachelor’s degree, elementary education, University of Northern Iowa

Kevin FangmanKevin Fangman

Chief Human Resources Officer

Joined the Agency: 2012

Kevin Fangman is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Heartland AEA. He provides leadership for the recruitment, hiring and retention of staff; diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and the Agency’s Communications Department. He is a member of Heartland AEA’s Agency Planning Council and a facilitator of the Shared Services Planning Council.

He previously served as the Agency’s Chief Academic Officer.

Prior to coming to Heartland AEA, Kevin was the Deputy Director of the Division of PK-12 Education at the Iowa Department of Education. In this capacity, he provided leadership and oversight for the implementation of all federal programs, Iowa Core, Response to Intervention, school accreditation, practitioner preparation and Iowa Learning Online. He also served eight months as Acting Director of the Department, providing oversight of all agency functions. Kevin also has experience as an elementary principal, a reading consultant at the Department of Education and an elementary teacher.

Master’s degree, educational administration, Iowa State University
Bachelor’s degree, elementary education, University of Northern Iowa

Susie MeadeSusie Meade

Chief Academic Officer

Joined the Agency: 2023

Susie Meade serves as the Chief Academic Officer at Heartland AEA. She coordinates work around the Agency’s priority service areas to ensure equitable and efficient allocation and alignment of agency resources, programs and services with our districts’ and agency’s identified needs. She also provides supervision to a number of the Agency’s regional directors. She is a member of Heartland AEA’s Agency Planning Council and a facilitator of the Learning & Leadership Planning Council.

Susie was the Chief Administrator at Prairie Lakes AEA for three years. Prior to that, she was superintendent of the Winterset Community School District from 2012-2020. Prior to serving in Winterset, Susie was assistant superintendent at Ankeny Community Schools where she led, facilitated and directed curriculum, instruction, professional development, special programs, state/federal reporting, technology and student registrar functions for the district. Susie served as an elementary principal in Mesa, AZ and Saydel school districts and director of special programs for the West Des Moines Community Schools. Susie began her career in education as a family and consumer science teacher. She transitioned into teaching students in elementary school who had behavior disorders, as well as those in elementary and secondary special education.

Ph.D., educational administration, Iowa State University
Master’s degree, special education, Mankato State University
Bachelor’s degree, secondary education, University of Iowa

Kristi UpahKristi Upah

Chief Student Services Officer

Joined the Agency: 1992

Kristi Upah is the Chief Student Services Officer at Heartland AEA. As the Chief Student Services Officer, Kristi advocates for an appropriate and effective education for all children and youth while fulfilling the responsibilities of the Heartland AEA Director of Special Education. She collaborates with all agency workgroups and with the families, schools and communities Heartland AEA serves. She is also the Agency’s liaison to the Iowa Department of Education for special education and related services and represents Heartland AEA in the statewide AEA Special Education Directors’ Network. She is a member of Heartland AEA’s Agency Planning Council and a facilitator of the Leadership & Learning Planning Council. 

Kristi has devoted her career to serving students and educators in the Heartland AEA service area. She has served as a school psychologist, Staff Development Specialist for School Psychology, Supervisor of School Psychological Services, Assistant Director of Innovation & Accountability and most recently as a regional Director serving districts in Boone and Story counties.

Degrees & Endorsements:
PK-12 Administrator/Supervisor of Special Education Endorsement, Drake University
Ph.D., psychology with a school psychology emphasis, Iowa State University
Specialist degree, school psychology, Iowa State University
Bachelor’s degree, psychology, Iowa State University

Important Contacts

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Jenny Ugolini

Jenny Ugolini

  • Board Secretary/Executive Assistant

Contact for questions about Board of Directors and Agency Planning Council