Meet the Governing Board

Phone: 602-347-2841


Degrees and Certifications:

Jenni Abbott-Bayardi, President

Ms. Jenni Abbott-Bayardi is currently serving her first term on the Governing Board after being elected in November 2020. She began her term as president in May 2023 after serving as vice president from January to May 2023. She was then re-elected as president in January 2024. Ms. Abbott-Bayardi is an Arizona native and works in pharmaceutical sales.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.  She grew up in the Washington Elementary School District and attended Desert Foothills and Acacia. Her parents were educators at many WESD schools throughout their 30 years.  Ms. Abbott-Bayardi has been an active member of the district as a parent volunteer at John Jacobs, Sahuaro, Cholla and Mountain Sky where her three children attended.  She was on the PTA at John Jacobs and Cholla Middle School. Ms. Abbott-Bayardi also served on the Parent Leadership Team for three years at the Washington Elementary School District.

Ms. Abbott-Bayardi has held many volunteer positions including Shadow Rock Preschool Board member, Asbury United Methodist, and Shadow Rock UCC Stewardship Chair and is currently the Jr. High Youth Leader at Phoenix First United Methodist Church.  Ms. Abbott-Bayardi is also an active parent athletic supporter at Thunderbird High School.

“I believe equitable public education creates productive individuals and builds strong communities.  During this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the social, emotional, physical, and mental health and safety of our students is more important than ever. I am committed to working with my colleagues on the board to create a more equalized environment for students.”

Phone: 602-347-2727


Degrees and Certifications:

Kyle Clayton, Vice President

Mr. Kyle Clayton is currently serving his first term on the Governing Board after being elected in November 2022. He began his term as vice president in May 2023. He was then re-elected as vice president in January 2024. Mr. Clayton is an Arizona native, and works as a REALTOR® and entrepreneur. Mr. Clayton is a graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor's in Spanish and an International Business Certification from the W.P. Carey School of Business. He is an active community service member as a Miracle Agent, benefitting the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Mr. Clayton is also a member of several associations, including the Young Entrepreneurs Council, National Association of REALTORS® and the Green Resource Council.

Mr. Clayton has lived in the district for 13 years. He is married to his partner of 15 years, and has one son who currently attends a WESD school. In his free time, Mr. Clayton likes to volunteer at his son's school and work in his backyard garden.

“A quality public school system creates healthy citizens, resilient communities, and a strong economy. I believe in the power of education to improve our communities by enriching the lives of our students, and that when we allow teachers to do what they do best—they can uniquely impact the lives of our students. I see education as a pyramid — where cooperative school/family relationships create a sturdy foundation for students to thrive and grow.”

Phone: 602-347-2728


Degrees and Certifications:

Nikkie Gomez-Whaley, Member

Ms. Nikkie Gomez-Whaley was elected to a four-year term in November 2020. She was appointed to serve a two-year term in March of 2017 and was re-elected to a two-year term in November 2018. She served as president from January to May 2023. She previously served two terms as vice president. Ms. Gomez-Whaley and her husband have lived in the WESD boundaries since 2009. Their son, who is gifted and has disabilities, attended WESD for grades 2-8 and is currently at Washington High School. Their daughter, who is active in various school activities, is currently enrolled in WESD. 

Ms. Gomez-Whaley is a first-generation American (on her mother’s side), as well as a first-generation college graduate holding a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in legal studies, a master’s degree in public administration, and is a certified Professional of Human Resources (PHR). She has over 20 years of experience working with youth and families in the areas of behavioral health and education. Specifically, Ms. Gomez-Whaley worked directly with caregivers, educators, and youth (many of whom were involved with the child protective, juvenile justice and/or foster care systems) to address trauma-induced behaviors though social-emotional coaching. Ms. Gomez-Whaley has a deep background in educational equity; working with communities to identify and address disparities and build inclusive environments where every student can grow.  Ms. Gomez-Whaley previously worked for the Arizona School Boards Association where she gained extensive knowledge of school board governance, which she used to coach superintendent-board teams across the state.

In her free time, Ms. Gomez-Whaley volunteers her time with various organizations, including GLSEN Arizona (an LGBTQ+ Youth organization) and the Arizona Teacher Residency Program (a teacher training program through the K-12 Center and NAU). 

“I believe in the power of education. Education can expand minds, open doors, and change lives. I believe that every student is capable of success, no exceptions, and that an investment in public education is an investment in the future vitality of Arizona. That is why I am committed to working with my fellow board members to build inclusive environments that honor our diverse communities; increase engagement (particularly among historically marginalized groups who are under-represented in school/district committees) and improve academic and social outcomes for all students.”

Phone: 602-347-2729


Degrees and Certifications:

Lindsey Peterson, Member

Mrs. Lindsey Peterson is currently serving her first term on the Governing Board after being elected in November 2020. She earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Secondary Education at Arizona State University and her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Grand Canyon University. Mrs. Peterson has been teaching Language Arts at Apollo High School for nearly 20 years. She is also the English Department Chair and Literacy Coach. From 2016-2020, she was an adjunct professor of reading at Glendale Community College. She is currently a member of the National council of Teachers of English, the Glendale Union Educators Association and a National Board Certified Teacher.

Education is the Peterson family business. Mrs. Peterson and her husband, Layne, are both products of WESD schools. Mr. Peterson also works in the Glendale Union High School District. They have five children who have attended Mountain View, John Jacobs, Chaparral, Desert Foothills Junior High, Cholla Middle and Sahuaro Schools. Mrs. Peterson was also active on the Chaparral Site Council.

“Education is the most hopeful of all of the world's institutions. Schools should be havens of opportunity, and strong schools make strong communities. I have devoted my adult life to education because I believe in the power of education to change individuals, institutions, and the world.” 

Phone: 602-347-2746


Degrees and Certifications:

Tamillia Valenzuela, Member

Tamillia Valenzuela (she, her(s), ella) is currently serving her first term on the Governing Board after being elected in November 2022. She is a bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent Queer Black Latina. She is a mother and a wife and has been an Arizona resident for 13 years. She is a community organizer and activist who devotes her time to serving her community and working with various community organizations throughout the valley. She loves a good hot wing (but only with the right ranch) and things that sparkle. She loves seeing others shine, lean into their power and learn how to navigate the systems that impact their daily lives.

“To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.” - bell hooks