Myles Johnson Region 2
Bill Wilson Region 1
Brush School District
Kym LeBlanc-Esparza Region 6Superintendent
Archuleta School District
Michelle Murphy, stepped into the role of Executive Director in September 2015. Prior to that time, Michelle served as Advocacy and Legal Counsel for the Colorado Association of School Boards. Michelle is a city girl with a strong passion for—and commitment to-advancing the interests of rural schools and students.
Michelle has worked in public education for almost 20 years. Michelle received a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Denver in 1996. Following graduation, she worked as an intervention specialist in the Boulder and St. Vrain Valley School Districts where she provided counseling, advocacy and mediation services to students and their families.
Michelle received her law degree from the University of Colorado in 2002. After graduating from CU Law, she worked as a real estate associate at one of Denver’s top firms. Her passion for education brought her to the practice of school law and, prior to joining CASB, she worked with Alexander Halpern LLC.
In 2003, a group of rural superintendents and board of education members gathered to discuss how to combat the
one-size fits-all legislation being passed at the Capitol. The legislature was focused on the problems in Denver and
other Front Range school districts, taking little notice of the good work being done in the rest of Colorado, particularly
in Colorado’s small, rural schools.
From the start, our goal was to be THE VOICE for rural schools in Colorado. By speaking as one and presenting a clear,
unified voice on behalf of rural schools and their communities we have been able to articulate our unique strengths and
challenges. Issues that are important to small schools and communities have been and continue to be voiced loudly
and clearly to the governor, legislators, the state board of education, CDE and others who make decisions of importance
for our children.
Policy makers now turn to the Rural Schools Alliance when they have questions regarding the impact of legislation or policies on rural school districts. Our members are sought out to serve on state boards and committees. Our input has led to the creation of bills and policies that directly benefit rural schools and led to the defeat of others that would have put us at a disadvantage.
In 2013, the Board of Directors determined that it was time to expand the structure and operations of the organization to create a robust, multi-dimensional association to promote rural education, enhance student achievement while continuing to advocate for Colorado's rural students and schools. The work of the Executive Director was shifted from lobbyist to advocate allowing for more direct and individualized interaction and advocacy with members and their communities, more time to develop traditional and non-traditional strategic partnerships and a greater ability to facilitate and scale practitioner-driven initiatives.