The North Dakota Council of School Administrators held its organizational meeting on January 25, 1976, at the Holiday Inn in Bismarck. Oscar Peterson, Superintendent at Mott, was nominated and elected as temporary chairman. Each of the six organizations was asked to introduce their representatives. The original representa­tives were: NDASA - Oscar Peterson and Walter Hoff; NDASSP - Emeroy Swanson and Warren Gullickson; NDAESP - Leo Schmidt and Douglas Hultberg; NDASBO - William Schneider and David Blackstead; NDAHSAD - Dick Karlgaard and Loren Faris; NDACS - Vivian Nordby and Joan Mikkula.

Oscar Peterson was nominated for President for the term ending June 30, 1976. The passage of the motion to have nominations cease and instruct the secretary to cast a unanimous ballot placed Mr. Peterson at the head of an organization with six charter members. The primary purpose of the organization was to host a meeting during the time of the NDEA convention and promote better communi­cation and understanding between and among the various administra­tive groups. Warren Gullickson and Leo Schmidt completed the first slate of officers as Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer, respectively. The terms of office of these original officers were approximately five months in duration; Warren Gullickson, Leo Schmidt, and Joan Mikkula occupied the President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer offices for the 1976-77 term.

Much credit for the eventual success of the concept of an umbrella organization for school administrators in the state of North Dakota goes to these early leaders. It was due to their hard work and belief in a concept that school administrators now enjoy a healthy and productive relationship with each other.

The Presidents of the association are as follows:

1975-1975 - Oscar Peterson
1976-1977 - Warren Gullickson
1977-1978 - Leo Schmidt
1978-1979 - Vivian Nordby
1979-1980 - Harvey Schilling
1980-1981 - Ron Luttschwager
1981-1982 - Jerome Tjaden
1982-1983 - Kelly Oien
1983-1984 - Clarence Corneil
1984-1985 - Lois Olson
1985-1986 - Harvey Schilling
1986-1987 - Harriet Shurr
1987-1988 - Don Boehmer
1988-1989 - Don Bauer
1989-1990 – Norm Batterberry
1990-1991 – John Gengler
1991-1992 – Jake Wolf
1992-1993 – Jim Hunt
1993-1994 – Dean U. Koppelman
1994-1995 – Bill Schumacher
1995-1996 – Eileen Mack-Rouse
1996-1997 – Al Peterson
1997-1998 – Bruce Schumacher
1998-1999 – Loren Mathson
1999-2000 – Chris Leinen
2000-2001 – Joe Lukach
2001-2002 – Bob Toso
2002-2003 – Carol Zent
2003-2004 – Dan Huffman
2004-2005 – David Rust
2005-2006 – Jim Stenehjem
2006-2007 – Buster Langowski
2007-2008 – Jeff Bopp
2008-2009 – Mike Bitz
2009-2010 – Kelly Peters
2010-2011 – Loren Kersting
2011-2012 – Tracy Klein
2012-2013 – Jerry Bartholomay
2013-2014 – Tonya Hunskor
2014-2015 - Tricia Erickson
2015-16 - Mark Wagner
2016-17 - David Flowers                                                                                        2017-2018 - Scott Faul


The North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders conducted much discussion concerning whether the umbrella association ought to formally unite and charge dues which would allow the employment of an executive secretary on a full-time basis. For example, at its meeting on December 4, 1978, the seven groups who were then involved with the Council conducted a straw vote as to whether there should be such an executive secretary. The straw vote indicated that three of the seven organizations supported the action, two were working with their groups toward positive reinforcement, one was not in attendance and one group was not committed to the hiring of an executive secretary. Plans along this line proceeded with a constitution being developed for the Council along with methods for conflict resolution between and among groups which might be experiencing difficulty with resolution of problems. At its meeting on October 19, the vote on the Council constitution and by-laws was taken. Six organizations ratified the constitution. They included the North Dakota Association of School Administrators, North Dakota Association of Secondary School Principals, North Dakota Association of High School Athletic Directors, North Dakota Association of County Superintendents, North Dakota of Elementary School Principals, and the North Dakota Association of School Business Officials. In four of the organiza­tions, the vote was unanimous. In the other two, the vote was carried by a very high majority. The organizations pledged start-up money of almost $17,000 and the umbrella organization of the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders with a full-time executive director was born.

The next task of the Board of Directors was to identify a job description of the executive director and to advertise and fill the position. At its meeting on January 29, 1980, the applicants were reviewed; a motion to narrow the number of applicants for the position to five was made and carried. The Council selected Ernest Borr, Lynn Davidson, Lowell Jensen, Robert Johnson, and Jerry Tjaden as the five finalists. On February 7, 1980, the Council interviewed the prospective candidates and selected Dr. Lowell L. Jensen as the first NDCEL Executive Secretary beginning July 1, 1980. The office was to be staffed by a full-time executive secretary and a full-time support person. The first support person chosen was Marilyn Stone, who continued in that position until the end of October 1980. At that time the position was filled by Mavis Christianson. In July 1984, David Meade became Executive Director but his death in March 1987 created a vacancy which was filled by Larry Klundt in July 1987. Dr. Klundt continued in that position until he retired in 2005. In July 2005, Dr. M. Douglas Johnson , after serving two years as Assistant Executive Director, became the Executive Director and continued in that position until he retired in 2013. In July 2013, Aimee Copas became the Executive Director.

In 1996 the membership voted to change the name from the North Dakota Council of School Administrators to the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders.


The 1980-81 budget was developed anticipating that the Council could operate with a budget of $87,500; the number of members anticipated to support that budget was 450. It soon became obvious that these membership estimates were to be exceeded; as a matter of fact, the number of members on June 30, 1981, was actually 580. The Council membership including full, associate, retired, aspiring administrator and student at the end of June 2013 was 740.


Ten associations are affiliated with the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders at this time. They include:

North Dakota Association of County Superintendents
North Dakota Association of Elementary School Principals
North Dakota Association of School Administrators
North Dakota Association of School Business Officials
North Dakota Association of Secondary School Principals
North Dakota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association
North Dakota Special Education Study Council
North Dakota Career & Technical Educational Association
North Dakota Association of Technology Leaders
North Dakota Regional Education Association Leaders

The North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders is also affiliated with several national associations. Among them are the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Associa­tion of Elementary School Principals.