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Association names its next executive secretary

January 31, 2017 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor
Dennis Theobald (left) will take over as executive secretary of the Alberta Teachers’ Association after spending the next year learning the job alongside the retiring Gordon Thomas (right). Currently the associate executive secretary, Theobald will officially assume his new role on Feb. 1, 2018.

Dennis Theobald to take over for retiring Gordon Thomas

Dennis Theobald will be the next top executive of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Provincial Executive Council decided at its Jan. 19 meeting to promote Theobald to the position of executive secretary and chief executive officer. The change is a result of the impending retirement of Gordon Thomas, who has served in the role since 2003. Theobald will transition into the new role by working alongside Thomas for the next year and will officially take over effective Feb. 1, 2018.

“It’s very exciting and, at the same time, quite terrifying!” Theobald said in an interview a few days after his appointment was announced.

“It has become very real to me, the challenges of the position and the responsibility that I’ll be taking on in about a year’s time.”

Theobald joined the Association as an executive staff officer in 2001 and became the communications co-ordinator in 2008. Since 2011, he’s held the title of associate executive secretary, making him second in command to Thomas.

During his ATA career, Theobald has taken on major responsibilities in political engagement and strategy, public relations, publicity and government relations. Prior to joining the Association, his career included teaching in band and public schools as well as a stint at Alberta Education, where one of his roles was as a special assistant to the deputy minister of education.

Association president Mark Ramsankar gave Theobald a ringing endorsement.

“Dennis has a long and outstanding record of service to the profession and causes of public education in Alberta,” Ramsankar said.

“The teachers of Alberta will be well served by him in his new role as the chief executive officer of the Association.”

Thomas said Theobald is the right person to take over the top executive job due to his experience both within the ATA and within the provincial government plus the fact that he’s been the deputy since 2011.

“In addition to all of those, he excels at political analysis and government relations,” Thomas said. “I believe he’ll be an outstanding executive secretary.”

A product of Alberta’s public schools, Theobald is a graduate of the University of Alberta, from which he holds three degrees: bachelor of arts, bachelor of education and master of business administration. He said that most teachers won’t notice a difference in the way the Association operates, since the executive secretary is a servant of Provincial Executive Council.

“They may see an evolution in some of the ways things are going to be done, which will reflect my skill set,” Theobald said. “Really, they can count on the Association being there for them in the same way that it has in the past.”

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