About Us

Arizona Professional Educators (AZPE) was founded on a philosophy that emphasizes Professional Excellence, Cooperation, Personal Excellence, Local Control, Right-To-Learn, and Freedom to Teach.

All organizational activities and decisions are based on this philosophy and grounded in our commitment to empower teachers to achieve excellence.

Our Mission

The Arizona Professional Educators is a membership association for education professionals that encourages and promotes fairness, democracy, economic opportunity, and high-quality public education.

Meet Our Board and Leadership



Janelle has been a teacher in AZ since 1991.  She holds degrees from both ASU and NAU, and is National Board Certified.  She currently works part-time for a large elementary school district in Phoenix, and teaches part-time for NAU.  She has spent her entire professional life working to improve education in Arizona. 


JO LITTLE, Treasurer

Photo and Bio Coming Soon!



LEAH ESMONT, Board Member

Leah W Esmont has been a teacher, administrator and an educational consultant. She also is the Executive Director of Emergency Educator Support Services, a non-profit coaching/professional development service for educators. She is a passionate advocate for  public education. 


MARY SCHUETT, Board Member

I have been an elementary educator for over 20 years, serving several terms as both an AZPE Board Member, and Peoria CTA Chapter Director. I believe educators deserve to be treated as professionals, and have the resources to allow them be even more successful in the classroom. 



LeeAnn has been in education since 1976. She's lived in Arizona for 16 years, teaching in the Peoria Union School District. She's also been a member of AZPE for 15 years, serving as a leader of the Peoria Affiliate (Peoria Classroom Teachers Association) taught in Peoria school district. She is married with two children and five grandchildren. LeeAnn enjoys family time, church, and reading.   


KEN SIMMONS, Board Member

Ken grew up in West Texas. Alongside his three brothers, he spent summers working cotton fields for his grandfather in central Texas. Upon graduating HS, he spent 5 months hitch-hiking and backpacking through the western U.S before joining the Air Force in 1977. After his military service, he went on to receive his BA in science education from ASU. He has been married to his wife, Chris, for 38 years, taught science for 30 years, and served as president of the Professional Educators in his district for 12 years.  He  travels as often as possible, loves to bird-watch and explore nature, play 4-wall racquetball, read science fiction, and go to great concerts.  


INACENT SAUNDERS, Executive Director

Originally from Brooklyn, NY,  Inacent has called Phoenix, AZ her home since 2018. Inacent is a nonprofit practitioner, with more than 20 years of experience in the sector. She specializes in strategic development and has a passion for anything related to organizational development.  Inacent holds a Master’s of Science in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham University and is a Certified Interim Executive, as well as a Certified Lifecycles Consultant. In her spare time, she enjoys writing.