A northwest Iowa woman today becomes a member of the National Education Association’s board of directors, the third person on the panel from Iowa. Leslie Dake, who works as a support staff secretary at Sioux City West High School, was elected at the N.E.A.’s national convention in July.

"For Iowa, that’s big to have three directors," Dake says, "For Sioux City, it gives us a little bit more attention, I don’t know about clout, but attention for northwest Iowa. So much is centered on central and eastern Iowa where so much more population is."

Dake says her -not- being a teacher brings another viewpoint to the board. She says she’s "real excited to represent the support staff and our lower wages and not necessarily poor working conditions but we’ve really gotta’ scrape with the funds. We get shoved into a room or an office and (are told): ‘Do your best, this is what we’ve got so work your magic with your supplies.’"

Each of the nation’s 50 states gets a single member on the N.E.A. board of directors and several other directors are appointed to the board for various reasons. Dake says the N.E.A. wields considerable influence in Washington and beyond.

She says, "People are really surprised at everything the N.E.A. does and we’re a big machine, three-point-two million members so, we’ve got a loud voice." Dake says she has been active in the N.E.A. at the local level for more than ten years. The other Iowans on the N.E.A. board of directors are: Kathy Williams of Davenport and Jim Young of Cedar Falls.