The Westerville Board of Education has nominated Denise Pope to fill the seat being vacated by Mike Collins, who was elected to the State Board of Education in November.

The Westerville Board of Education has nominated Denise Pope to fill the seat being vacated by Mike Collins, who was elected to the State Board of Education in November.

Pope is the former chairwoman of a committee tasked to monitor the district's spending.

While it will take a formal vote by the board to appoint Pope to the vacant seat, she was the only candidate nominated. The board will take that vote at its first meeting in 2009, on Jan. 12, according to President Kevin Hoffman.

"We look forward to making that vote and starting off the year with (Pope)," Hoffman said.

Pope will serve the one year remaining in Collins' term in office. In order to continue as a board member, she would have to run for election in November 2009.

Hoffman said Pope's varied experience helped her to stand out above the other 10 candidates.

"It was a very difficult decision. All the candidates were spectacular," Hoffman said. "I think she had a great combination of business experience that would be valuable, as well as involvement in the community, most recently her involvement as chairwoman of the FACT (Financial Accountability Community Taskforce). She has a broad-based set of experience that will add a lot of value to the board."

Also applying for the position were Richard Bird, Michael David Elicson, Robert Gilbert, Thomas Habegger, Alfred Hammond, Jeffrey Harrison, James Knox, Douglas Sheppard, Peter Wilms and Allen Yoho.

Pope is the information technology applications development director for Nationwide Insurance Services Co., and holds an MBA from Otterbein College. A former chairwoman of the FACT committee, she still serves on the task force, which was first organized in 2006 to monitor the district's expenditure of new revenue generated by the successful passage of an operating levy in May of that year, according to community engagement coordinator Lynne Maslowski.

"Education and community have always been important to me," Pope said. "I have always believed that education is the key to open the door to one's future. Being a part of (the board) will allow me to use my strengths and passions to serve a community and school system that strive for excellence."

Aside from her work with the FACT committee, Pope has also worked as a volunteer coordinator for the district's operating levy campaign in May 2006, served as secretary of the Whittier Elementary PTA and is a board member of the Westerville Area Resource Ministry.

"After the 2006 levy campaign, I was committed to staying involved in the schools, mainly because I was impressed and energized about the work that was being done and the commitment of the administration, staff and community," Pope said. "After the campaign, I had a greater appreciation for the administration and board."