Nevada State Board of Education President Elaine Wynn Departs Leaving Legacy of Accomplishments

December 04, 2020

CARSON CITY Nev. – Nevada State Board of Education (Board) President Elaine Wynn announced she will leave the Board at the end of this calendar year. Wynn has served on the Board since her appointment by former Governor Brian Sandoval in 2012. Over the course of her eight-year tenure, she has served as President twice, in 2015 and 2017. She also oversaw the hiring of three State Superintendents of Public Instruction: Dale Equiaga, Steve Canavero, and Jhone Ebert.

“President Wynn’s legacy of service to the children of our great State is indelible,” said Governor Steve Sisolak. “Generations of children will be the beneficiaries of her life-long passion to improve education and support healthy communities throughout Nevada. I cannot thank President Wynn enough for her dedication to the Board and I know she will continue to contribute to the betterment of the Silver State.”

Wynn has always placed a special emphasis on better serving students of color and students living in poverty. Under her leadership, the Board’s commitment to equity is the cornerstone of the 2020 Statewide Plan for the Improvement of Pupils. During her tenure, the Board also emphasized growing Nevada’s pipeline of diverse and highly effective educators and instructional support personnel, as well as expanding professional development opportunities for educators and staff. During her presidency, the Board led Nevada’s transition to a new system of accountability in alignment with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. In addition, the Board continued to embrace technological advances and rigorous expectations through the adoption of the Common Core standards, computerized testing, and a renewed focus on college and career readiness.

Most recently, Wynn’s determination was a driving force behind the Nevada Department of Education’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a champion for the power of public-private partnerships, she worked with Las Vegas business leader Jim Murren and Governor Sisolak’s COVID-19 Task Force to create an urgent push to provide every student with the internet connectivity and device needed to fully participate in distance learning. Due to this unprecedented effort under the banner of ConnectingKidsNV, between August and December, the percentage of students in need who were able to access to distance learning increased from 80% to nearly 100%.

“A State Superintendent could not ask for a better partner in ensuring our educators, students, and families have the resources they need, including social-emotional supports, as we continue to respond to and recover from COVID-19,” said Jhone Ebert, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We cannot thank President Wynn enough for her steadfast leadership and singular focus on meeting the needs of our most underserved communities. Her passion and commitment will continue to change Nevadans’ lives for the better.”

Due to her reputation as a savvy business leader, philanthropist, and advocate for children, Wynn was the first person appointed by Governor Sandoval when the Board’s composition was changed to be comprised of both elected and appointed members. She led the Board’s transition to its current governance model and has spearheaded Nevada’s adoption of Texas’s well-regarded board governance training. Silver State Governance supports boards in focusing the majority of their time and attention on improving student outcomes.

"When the history of public education in Nevada is written, an entire chapter should be dedicated to the work of Elaine Wynn. She has always put the needs of young people first, seeking to ensure what former Governor Sandoval once called 'the promise of opportunity' would be available to all, regardless of demography or geography. We all owe President Wynn a debt of gratitude," said Dale Erquiaga, who served as State Superintendent from August 2013 to 2015.

Wynn’s list of personal and professional accomplishments is lengthy. She was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2000, she co-founded and served as Director of Wynn Resorts and helped guide the company’s expansion with the opening of Wynn Las Vegas in 2005 and Wynn Macau in 2006.

Highlights of Organizational Involvement:

  • Chair, Communities in Schools (National and Nevada chapters), the oldest and most successful stay-in-school organization in America since 1977 and Nevada since 1999.
  • Co-chair, Nevada’s Blue-Ribbon Education Reform Task Force in 2011.
  • Co-chair, Greater Las Vegas After-School All-Stars.
  • Past member of Executive Board for the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.
  • Trustee, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Board. (Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010).
  • Member, Library of Congress Trust Fund Board.
  • Co-chair, Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2015.
  • Benefactor/Supporter, The Elaine Wynn Palliative Care Program at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas.
  •  Benefactor/Supporter, The Elaine Wynn Studio for Arts Education at The Smith Center for Performing Arts, in Las Vegas.
  • Chair, UNLV Foundation, private fundraising arm for the University. 
  • Trustee, Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation. 

Highlights of Awards:

  • Governor’s Philanthropist of the Year in 2005.
  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 1986.
  • One of seven National Promise of America Founder’s Awards. (Given at a ceremony at the White House for improving children’s lives).
  • 2011 Lewis Hine Award for Service to Children and Youth by the National Child Labor Committee.

She is especially proud of the dedication of the Elaine Wynn Elementary School in the Clark County School District in 1991. Her passion for basketball led to her appointment to the Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Governors in 2010.

Governor Sisolak also announced today that Wynn will be succeeded by Mark Newburn, who served on the Board as the elected representative for District 4, first assuming office in 2013. He was re-elected in 2016 and elected by the Board to serve as its Vice President in 2017. Founder of Vizics Inc, Newburn has over 30 years of experience in the computer field and has worked with some of the top technology companies in America. Newburn grew up in Las Vegas, graduating from Rancho High School and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where he was one of the first students in computer science.

A longtime STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education advocate, Newburn has served on several STEM-related educational boards. Newburn has taken the lead in several State education initiatives, especially around increasing access and equity for all learners. He was a key author of the State's Strategic STEM Education Plan and served as Nevada's representative to the White House's Federal STEM Summit. In recognition of his work in STEM education, both Governor Sandoval and Governor Sisolak have appointed Newburn to the Nevada State Advisory Council on STEM.