We are very excited to announce the hiring three Region Directors, all of whom are already up and running in their new positions.
Welcome aboard Tracylea Balmer (Regions 3 and 8), Alex Jones (Region 9/West Ada), and Denise Cobden (Region 1).
After a year working as an organizer with the IEA, Tracylea is transitioning to a new role as a Region Director working in the Western Region Organizing Center. “Working closely with several local associations has given me a new appreciation for how hard our educators work in caring for their students and how much extra time they put in supporting their colleagues,” she says.
Prior to joining the IEA, Tracylea spent more than 20 years working as the event director for non-profit organizations such as the Idaho Botanical Garden and the College of Idaho. She grew up in Parma and Payette, and now lives in the Treasure Valley with her spouse, who has been a teacher for 16 years. They have a child who attends school in Boise.
Alex is now serving as the Region Director for Region 9, representing the West Ada Education Association and working with Idaho’s largest school district. He is no stranger to WAEA members, having spent the last year working as an IEA Organizer and collaborating with local associations, including WAEA.
Alex grew up in Idaho Fall with his sister and mother, Virginia Jones, who is a retired IEA member. “Her involvement in local leadership and statewide work on the GR-PACE committee instilled in me the importance of activism and unionism,” Alex says. He graduated from the University of Portland with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, then returned to Idaho, where he has worked for the Bureau of Land Management and the Idaho Democratic Party, as well as serving as a substitute teacher.
“The last 20 months have been extremely challenging and exhausting for all teachers and staff,” Alex notes. “I am inspired by their ability to adapt and overcome the challenges being presented on a daily basis. I look forward to working with IEA members to ensure that they will always have a strong voice in all aspects of public education.”
Denise began as the Region 1 Director for the Idaho Education Association on September 1st. Originally from Washington, she graduated from Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington School of Law. She also served in AmeriCorp, teaching reading at Chief Leschi Elementary in Puyallup, Washington.
She has been advocating for working people for over a decade. At the International Union of Operating Engineers, she represented ESP employees in the Tacoma School District and served as a Business Representative and Staff Attorney. Most recently, she worked at the Professional and Technical Employees, Local 17 as a Union Representative working with various county, city, and health district employees in Washington state. In that capacity her work included leading coalitions, negotiating master agreements, and advocating for public health funding locally and statewide.
Denise is excited to bring her experience and background to Region 1. “As I get to know the members and leaders within the Region, I hope to work with them to build their membership and assist them with upcoming school board elections,” she says. “My vision is to work with local leaders to coordinate and leverage the work that each of them do to harness our collective strength and advocate for our members, while respecting the work and autonomy of each individual local.”