Board of Directors, Executive Director & Advisory Council

Vance Castles, President

Vance and his family moved to Cleburne in March of 1969 when he came here as the owner of a menswear store. Since 1984 he has been an independent insurance agent. Vance and his wife, Camilla, are heavily invested in the Cleburne community through the activities of civic work, Christian organizations and their church. His son and daughter both attended Cleburne High School. Vance is a founder of Cleburne Education Foundation.

Education has always been important to Vance, who graduated from Tarleton State University in 1967. His parents instilled in Vance the idea of becoming a productive citizen in the community. Vance lives by his core value that you need God in your life and an education to achieve the best for your family.

Will Head, Vice President/Treasurer

Will has lived in Cleburne since 1993. Both he and his wife, Cristin, graduated from Cleburne High School in 2000. They have three children. Ryan, Anna Jayne, and Charlie, two whom are currently attending Cleburne schools and the youngest will soon. Will is Vice President of Lending at Members Credit Union where he has worked since 2003. Excellence in education has always been a priority for him as he comes from a family of teachers. His mother taught in Cleburne for many years and his wife is currently a teacher. His goals are to assist students and teachers by providing educational resources they might not otherwise have access to.

Donnave Abt, Secretary

Donnave and her husband, Jim, have lived in Cleburne since 1987. Their two sons graduated from Cleburne High School and both are now teachers. Donnave was a flight attendant with Delta Air Lines for 32 years until her retirement.

Donnave is actively involved in Henderson Street Baptist Church and serves on the committee for the annual Cleburne Christian Leadership Prayer Breakfast. Educational excellence has been a priority in her family’s life and she wants to support our CISD teachers in order to make it as easy as possible for them to teach effectively.

Justin Hewlett, Past President

Justin and his wife Sydney, both grew up in Cleburne and are graduates of Cleburne High School. Justin was in the first class to graduate from what was then the “new” high school in 1978. They have four children, Ryan, Dax, Tyler and Zachary who also graduated from Cleburne ISD.

Justin received an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University and then came back to Cleburne to work for a local bank. He founded his first company in 1987 and has since gone on to start three other local companies. Justin served two terms on the CISD Board of Trustees in the early 1990’s and served as the Mayor of Cleburne for one term.   Justin has served on several non-profit and foundation boards. He and Sydney are very active in the Cleburne community and want to do everything they can to improve the education system in Cleburne. Justin believes that the basis for any successful community starts with a strong school system.

Shelly Samuels, Member

Shelly, a graduate of the University of North Texas, grew up attending Cleburne schools, as did her two sons and her mother! She began teaching in Godley, Texas before transferring to Cleburne, where she served as a teacher for more than 30 years. She is active in St. Mark United Methodist Church where she teaches a Sunday school class and works with children during special activities. Shelly believes that supporting our teachers and students should be the main goal of the CEF as we continue on our path of excellence.

Brad Marshall, Member

Brad and his family moved to Cleburne in 2007. He has three daughters. Morgan is a graduate of CHS and Texas Tech University. Maggie is a recent graduate of Cleburne High School and currently attends Stephen F. Austin State University. Marlie is a student at CHS. Brad and his wife DeNay graduated from Texas Tech University. Brad has worked in private business and banking for over 28 years and has been involved in many organizations in both Burleson and Cleburne. He and his family are active members at Cleburne Bible Church where he is currently serving as an Elder.

As an involved parent of three children and education advocate, Brad believes that providing adequate tools to teach along with strong resources for teachers and administration are key to building a successful district.

Amber Witte, Member

Amber and her husband Mike both grew up in Cleburne and are graduates of Cleburne High School. They have three sons, one is a graduate of Cleburne ISD and currently attends Texas Tech. Their other two sons are students in Cleburne ISD. Their family is active members at First United Methodist Church in Cleburne.

After her graduation from CHS, Amber continued her education and received her Bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University. She is a Branch President for Pinnacle Bank in Cleburne where she has worked for 15 years. Amber has served on many non-profit boards through the years and has a passion for giving back to her community. Amber believes every student deserves access to a top notch education and joined CEF to help CISD students achieve their very best.

Paige Harris, Executive Director

Paige was hired as executive director in January 2018. She came on board to help CEF grow with her background in nonprofit management and fund raising. She worked at Meals on Wheels of Johnson and Ellis Counties for 21 years, most recently as Director of Donor Relations.

Paige has lived in Cleburne since 1998. She and her husband, Rick, have one son, Carson, who is a student at Cleburne High School. Paige is passionate about public education and helping Cleburne ISD provide the best opportunities possible for its students and our future workforce.

Our Advisory Council

Albert Archer
Luanne Bailey
Shanna Bates
Eric Bishop
Carolyn Cody
Robert Childress
Scott Dudley
Crystal Dudley
Nelle Gentry
Betsy Harty
Allie Hughes
Guy James

Aaron Keen
Kay Kelm
MJ Larrison
Jon Lee
Lori Lyness
Jeff Pakeltis
Stephanie Philips
Jan Pitcock
Juanita Reyes
Mindi Rosser
Debbie Reynolds
Lorna Smith

Susie Sarchet
Dan Taylor
Gloria Tennison
Diann Thorne
Jane Walker
Mary Ann Wheatley
Kay White
Cheri White
Susi Whitworth
Chris Woodall

“ I feel so blessed and thankful for the support the Cleburne Education Foundation and its donors provide to our teachers, students, and schools. ”

Dr. Kyle Heath • Cleburne ISD Superintendent


The Cleburne Education Foundation (CEF) was born out of a committee called the “Friends of Cleburne” which was formed in 2009 to lend a positive voice and financial support to Cleburne ISD. CEF is not a department of the school district, but a private non-profit organization that is a bridge between our community and our schools. CEF’s focus is to raise private dollars to invest in programs in CISD that are not funded through local, state or federal tax dollars.

In March 2011, the CEF Board of Directors was established, and they applied for and received tax exempt charitable status from the IRS. The Foundation awarded its first Innovative Teaching Grants to CISD teachers in 2012 which included help with technology at the two middle schools and construction of a greenhouse at the high school. Since 2012, our funding has grown to include many additional types of awards, and the Foundation has given over $285,000 for programs that are creative and enhance the educational journey for our students.

Quality schools are essential to the strength, growth and improvement of Cleburne. Involving the community in these efforts assures a quality education for our leaders and workforce of tomorrow. By building strong community support for public education in Cleburne, we can help ALL of our students achieve their dreams.


As long as there are children in need of education, we will continue to build and nurture the strong community support needed for providing quality education at our public schools. If you are interested in contributing toward providing higher quality education for our future leaders, we would appreciate your assistance.