The Coordinating Board for Higher Education was established by an amendment to the Missouri Constitution in 1972. The nine-member board oversees the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, which serves as the administrative arm of the board and is led by the commissioner.

The board members — one from each of Missouri's eight congressional districts and one selected at large — are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. They serve six-year terms.


Douglas R. Kennedy, chair

Douglas R. Kennedy, chair


Douglas R. Kennedy was appointed to the CBHE by Gov. Jay Nixon in December 2013. Kennedy is an attorney and has been active with the Boy Scouts of America and other philanthropic organizations. Kennedy also raises cattle and plays bass in a bluegrass band.


Kennedy, a Democrat from Poplar Bluff, is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Memphis Law School.


Mike Thomson, vice chair

Mike Thomson, vice chair


Mike Thomson was appointed to the CBHE by Gov. Jay Nixon in April 2016, and reappointed by Gov. Mike Parson in July 2018. Thomson was a Missouri state representative from 2007 to 2014, where he was a member of several education committees and served as chair of the Higher Education Committee for four years. He also served as a commissioner for the Midwest Higher Education Compact.


Thomson, a Republican from Maryville, retired as marketing and development director for the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri. He previously worked as an instructor of psychology at Northwest Missouri State University and was a high school teacher, counselor, and principal. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees and certification in guidance and counseling and secondary school administration from Northwest Missouri State University.


Joe Cornelison

Joe Cornelison, secretary

Joe Cornelison was appointed to serve on the CBHE by Gov. Eric Greitens in December 2017. Cornelison retired as senior counsel for Husch Blackwell, LLP in Kansas City. He is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army.


Cornelison, a Republican from Maryville, earned a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a master's degree from Western Kentucky University, and a law degree from Georgetown University.

Gwendolyn Grant


Gwendolyn Grant was appointed to serve on the CBHE by Gov. Mike Parson in August 2018. Grant is the president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City and is the co-founder of the League's Servant Leadership Development  Program. Grant is the founder and facilitator for Destination: Wealth Creationä, and Personal Pathways to Powerful Leadership for Women.


Grant, a Democrat from Kansas City, holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Park University and an M.B.A. from Rockhurst University. She serves as president of Kansas City Public Schools Building Corporation Board, is involved with the Urban Neighborhood Initiative Board of Directors, the National Association for Multicultural Education, and has received numerous honors and awards.

Gary Nodler


Gary Nodler was appointed to serve on the CBHE by Gov. Mike Parson in August 2018. Nodler served in the Missouri Senate from 2003 to 2011.  He served as Assistant Majority Floor Leader and on the several committees during his time in the Missouri Senate, including chairman of the appropriations and education committees.


Nodler, a Republican from Joplin, attended Crowder College and holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Missouri Southern State University. Nodler served in the United States Army and in the Missouri National Guard. He is a member of First United Methodist Church, the American Legion, and the National Rifle Association.

Shawn Saale

Shawn Saale


Shawn Saale was appointed to serve on the CBHE by Gov. Eric Greitens in August 2017. Saale is a partner at Saale & Bailey, LC. He specializes in estate law, business succession planning, and charitable giving. He is a member of the American, Missouri, and St. Charles County Bar Associations and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.


Saale, a Republican from Defiance, serves on the board of directors for Enterprise Bank & Trust and the board of directors for Emmaus Homes. He is past president and Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club of St. Charles - Sunrise. He also served as chairman of the board for SSM St. Joseph Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital West Foundation and as a director for Community Living, Inc. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.


Robin Wenneker


Robin Wenneker was appointed to serve on the CBHE by Gov. Mike Parson in August 2019. Wenneker is the managing partner for her family-owned multi-county property management company with farm, rental and raw land holdings. She brings extensive involvement in the community to her position, serving on the University of Missouri College of Agriculture’s Food and Natural Resources Foundation, the University of Missouri Alumni Association, Assistance League of Mid Missouri, Children’s Grove, and the Columbia Housing Authority.


Wenneker, Columbia, holds a bachelor’s degree in administrative management from the University of Missouri, and a master’s degree in business administration from Washington University.

Zora Mulligan, Commissioner of Higher Education