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WDE Onboards New Chief Policy Officer

University of Wyoming Magazine

This school year will be marked by transition for Wyoming educators as they adjust to reduced budgets, new federal policies, and new accountability procedures. And there will also be a new leader in Wyoming to work with these issues.


On August 1, Superintendent Jillian Balow welcomed aboard Megan Degenfelder as the new Chief Policy Officer for Wyoming’s Department of Education. Balow said she brought Degenfelder onto the team because of her unique perspective.


Degenfelder hails from Casper, she’s a former UW Student Body President and has worked in government affairs for Cloud Peak Energy in Gillette. She’s never worked as an education leader, but is familiar with the halls of government from her time lobbying on behalf of the energy industry. Balow said she sees that as an asset.


“We have the energy industry as such a strong and integral part of everything that we do,” said Balow. “That knowledge that she brings to the table about business and industry is really important.”


And Balow said Degenfelder’s background will help the WDE navigate challenges related to the energy industry. “Whether those are systemic challenges of moving forward in energy or education, or fiscal challenges that certainly the energy industry has faced,” Balow said. “So I see it as nothing other than a value add to what we’re doing.”


As Chief Policy Officer, Degenfelder manages state and federal policy work, including accountability, standards and assessment. The Hathaway Scholarship is also under her supervision.


Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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