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Serving more than half of Illinois' public school students
LUDA Large Unit District Association



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Diane K. Rutledge, Ph.D.

Executive Director
Large Unit District Association
Springfield, Illinois

Diane Rutledge is the Executive Director of the Large Unit District Association. She has spent her career in Springfield serving in a continuum of positions from elementary teacher to Superintendent of Schools in District 186. Her work has focused on collaborating with partners such as the Ball and Wallace Foundations, the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and the Springfield Education Association to create initiatives to support student achievement. During her tenure she has concentrated her efforts on leadership development in support of student achievement and ensuring all students are prepared for post-secondary. She holds a degree in elementary education from Western Illinois University and degrees in educational leadership from both University of Illinois at Springfield and Southern Illinois University. She completed the Superintendent Leadership Program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

As a graduate of the school district that she has served and as an advocate of young people, Diane has a keen interest in maintaining the positive spirit of the Springfield community. She has been involved in a number of efforts designed to enhance the Springfield community and ensure that it remains strong for our future leaders.

Diane also sits on the boards of directors of organizations that include the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield, the Boy Scouts, Memorial Medical Center, Memorial Health System, United Way, United Community Bank and Blackburn College. She serves as a mentor to a high school student in District 186 and is an elder at her church.

Roberta "Bert" Hendee

Assistant Director
Large Unit District Association
Springfield, Illinois

Bert Hendee is the Assistant Director of the Large Unit District Association. She spent her 34 year career in Springfield Public Schools serving as teacher, principal, and Director of Human Resources & Development/LEAD. During her tenure in the principalship and central office Bert focused on human resource development. She served as project director for the Wallace Foundation funded LEAD grant. With the support of the Wallace funding her efforts were concentrated on leadership development in support of student achievement. Bert now serves as the Illinois coordinator for the National SAM Innovation Project (NSIP) as well as serving as President of the NSIP Board of Directors. She holds a degree in elementary education from Culver-Stockton College and Educational Administration from University of Illinois at Springfield.

About Us

LUDA (The Large Unit District Association) was created in 1976 by a group of superintendents who recognized the need for an organization that would provide networking, professional development, and advocacy for large unit school districts.

Our purpose is to:

1. Promote the sound and efficient operation of large unit school districts in the State of Illinois

2. Serve as a resource of information for large unit school districts

3. Make known to the public the educational, financial, operational, and organizational needs and concerns of large unit districts in order to promote the common good and general welfare of the districts, their students, and their communities.

4. Influence legislation and regulations; disseminate analyses, studies, and research in order to assist in the development of sound educational policy.

LUDA represents the largest fifty-three unit districts in Illinois, thus speaking on behalf of more than half of the students in the state. Unit districts are those that educate students in PreK through grade 12 and large is defined as enrollments of at least 3,500. LUDA finds the commonality in the diversity of our members, thus overcoming regional differences.

LUDA is committed to partnerships and collaboration. Whether it is universities, other professional organizations, advocacy groups, government entities, and private businesses, our commitment is to the support of our member districts, their students, staffs, and communities.

Opportunities are created for central office administrators to connect, share, and learn together. Curriculum Directors, Business Officials, Human Resource Directors, Special Education Directors, and Superintendentsí Assistants are invited to specific conference meetings and are encouraged to develop their own LUDA network of colleagues.

Being a voice for large unit districts at the capitol, with the State Board of Education, and at policy development tables across the state is an important role of LUDA. Leaders in our districts give testimony on our behalf, serve on statewide committees, and communicate with state and national legislators.

LUDA is the recipient of a Wallace Foundation grant for the dissemination of learning on leadership development. We are a member of SAELP (State Action for Education Leadership Project and contribute to the learning of how leaders make a difference in student achievement.

Additionally, LUDA serves as a network for support, friendship, learning and caring among its members. Leading a large unit district is a challenging task. It is vital to have the support of others in similar positions to lean on and learn from in order to succeed. LUDA plays that role.

2015-16 LUDA Board of Directors


Dr. Brian Harris (Barrington), President

Vice President

Dr. Ehren Jarrett (Rockford), Vice President


Dr. Tad Everett (Sterling), Secretary


Dr. Lisa Hichens (Batavia), Treasurer

Members At Large-(Completing 2 year term ending in 2018)

Mr. Dan Bridges, (Naperville)
Ms. Jennifer Gill, (Springfield)
Dr. Jeff Schuler, (Wheaton Warrenville)

Members At Large- (Beginning 2 year term ending in 2019)

Dr. Nate Cunningham (Crete Monee)
Dr. Mark Daniel (Unit 5)
Dr. James Mitchem (Valley View)

Past Presidents & Presidents' Emeritus

Dr. John Burkey (Huntley)
Dr. Barry Reilly (Bloomington)
Presidents' Emeritus
Dr. Ken Arndt (Carpentersville)
Dr. Cal Lee (Moline)
Dr. Gary Niehaus (Unit #5)
Dr. Bob Nielsen (Bloomington)
Dr. Don Schlomann (St. Charles)
Dr. Preston Williams (Urbana)

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