The Heartland AEA Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of a new chief administrator for the Agency. Dr. Cindy Yelick, currently the chief administrator of Great Prairie AEA in Ottumwa, will succeed Dr. Jon Sheldahl when he retires after an almost 40-year career in education, including the past six years as chief administrator at Heartland AEA.

“The Board and I are excited to have Dr. Yelick return to the Heartland AEA family,” said Pete Evans, Heartland AEA Board president. “She brings a depth of experience with the statewide AEA system and has tremendous passion for the work Iowa’s AEAs do across the state. We are confident she will continue the great work and positive culture of our agency and will bring a level of experience that will help us further enhance the services we provide to students, children, families and educators in our area.”

As the chief administrative officer of Heartland AEA, Yelick will oversee 735 full- and part-time staff members who provide special education services, instructional services, professional learning, library and digital resources and more to 150,000 students and 11,000 educators throughout the 11 central Iowa counties the Agency serves.

Yelick has been the chief administrator at Great Prairie AEA since 2017, and 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. She earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Drake University, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, second language education from the University of Houston and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa.

Yelick will assume the responsibilities of chief administrator on July 1, 2023.

“I have great respect for Heartland AEA,” Yelick said. “In my experience working for Heartland AEA and in Iowa’s AEA system, Heartland AEA staff members have a sense of clarity about their work and a commitment to their mission. I have a deep appreciation for the strength and talent of staff and leadership at Heartland, and I’m excited to return to the team and get started.”


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