Administrative Operations and Membership Services
Washington, D.C. Office
Education Policy, Communications and State Partnerships
Gary Beckner oversees both AAE and its supporting foundation. He is based out of AAE’s membership office in Mission Viejo, California.
Mr. Beckner is a successful business executive with a vision for America's educational future. His heart for education comes from his love for children and his desire to see America's young people develop with academic and moral excellence.
Mr. Beckner knows first hand the important role a teacher has in the development of America's citizens. His background includes being a lifetime credentialed instructor with California's community colleges, authoring a college textbook, teaching courses in business ethics, and conducting seminars throughout the state.
Immediately after graduating from Florida State University with a B.S. degree in marketing in 1967, he began a career in business that led to management and part ownership of several insurance industry companies. In 1988, Mr. Beckner began consulting work in insurance and marketing, while holding seats on the board of directors of several organizations.
In 1993, he contracted as a consultant for a Washington, D.C.-based association management company. Over the next year, while working on an education project, and after surveying teachers across the nation, he became convinced there was a need for the Association of American Educators.
In 1994, Mr. Beckner helped found AAE as an alternative for teachers who were disenchanted with the nation's teacher unions. He and a group of nationally recognized and respected educators came together to form this new organization because they thought the two unions were leading our public schools in the wrong direction.
He has also served as the executive director of the Coalition of Independent Education Associations (CIEA). The coalition represents over 300,000 teachers in 23 separate independent, nonunion associations across the nation. They are united in their belief that educators should be free from compulsory membership, and should not be forced to join or otherwise pay dues to a labor union in order to teach.
Mr. Beckner is a frequent lecturer on the nonunion independent teachers association movement and has been featured or quoted in articles published in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and Investors’ Business Daily among others.
Mr. Beckner resides in Southern California with his wife. The father of three sons, Gary is active in several civic and religious organizations.
Ruthie (Elmore) Borrelli is the communications coordinator for the Association of American Educators. She assists in communications and outreach through updating the blog, managing social media, and contributing to AAE’s monthly publication Education Matters.
Director of Communications and Advocacy
Alexandra (Schroeck) Freeze is the director of communications and advocacy for the Association of American Educators, the largest national non-union educators’ organization. Alix manages AAE’s internal and external communications, focusing on education policy, media relations, and outreach to like-minded groups and educators.
Professional Programs Manager
Melissa Pratt is the professional programs manager in AAE’s Washington D.C. office. In this role, Melissa assists with a wide variety of projects, including office management, specialty recruiting programs, and research. Melissa also spearheads professional development initiatives and oversees the AAE Foundation National Teacher Scholarship & Classroom Grant program.
Director of National Projects
Colin Sharkey is director of national projects for the Association of American Educators. In this capacity, Colin develops, cultivates, and oversees new AAE state chapters while also working with state partners in their development of new programs. He also works with like-minded educators, policy makers and organizations to expand the non-union educators’ movement.
Colin recently served as the project coordinator for the coalition relations department at The Heritage Foundation, where he managed and supervised many significant projects and contributed efforts towards the Leadership for America campaign. Earlier, Colin also provided financial and technical assistance during his tenure as a program officer at the Collegiate Network. While there, Colin served as a Managing Editor of CAMPUS Magazine Online, created and directed the National Security Online Resource Center, and blogged for National Review Online.
Born and raised in Abington, Pennsylvania, Colin is a proud product of the award-winning Abington public school district. Colin completed a two-year honors program at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, and he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. Colin and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Chalfont, Pennsylvania.
Colin’s favorite teacher is his 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Ted Weiner, who Colin describes as being a passionate knowledgeable teacher with high expectations.