Here’s an overview of the top people in the education space in Arizona.

Lisa Graham Keegan

How did you get into this profession? I was a speech pathologist who specialized in adult brain damage, and then ran for the Arizona Legislature. I asked to chair Education because I believe all our students have far more capacity to learn than we usually ask, and our educators are far more capable of starting and running the schools that can teach and reach students than we know or allow for.

What do you like best about the work you do? I absolutely love listening to school principals talk about the pride they take in their school teams, their students and their communities.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to build a career that is similar to yours? Spend most of your time listening to people who are exceptionally good at what they do and believe that there are far more of those people in the world than you will ever know. Keep trying to find them.

Tell us about the coolest trend in education today: By far the coolest trend in education today is Arizona! Arizona is the fastest academic gainer in the nation. We are coming on strong! That is a too little talked about and a great fact. Thank you, Arizona teachers!

How have you seen your industry change in the past few years? It changes every day with new school models, new school leaders, new groups of students. Education changes as much as people do, and it should. This is no business for those who love the same thing every day.

What one thing distracts you most from your work? Crabbiness among those who prefer no change or don’t believe excellence is possible in all types of schools and for all students.

What’s the industry’s greatest challenge? Ignoring excellence. Too many education experts seem to suffer from “deficit attention disorder.” If a school is great, its leaders and teachers get ignored instead of asked how they do their work. If a school is failing, it gets money and attention. Those policies need to change.