GAEL Leadership & Staff

Robert “Buddy” Costley, GAEL Executive Director

Executive Director Robert Costley is a U.S. Navy Veteran, serving overseas in the Persian Gulf aboard the U.S.S. Ranger, an aircraft carrier. Following his military service, he attended the University of West Georgia, earning a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education. He then furthered his education with both a master’s and specialist’s degree in Education Administration from Jacksonville State University.

In his educational career, he has served as an English teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and as a Georgia school superintendent for eleven years. In August, 2019, he began his tenure as Executive Director of GAEL.

Known to his friends and colleagues as “Buddy,” he is a proud advocate of public schools and what they mean for the future of Georgia and its families. He is married to Kelly, a veteran public school kindergarten teacher, and he is the father to three beautiful children, all alumni of Georgia’s public schools. In his own words, he is “proud to live in a divided house.” His oldest, Sam, is a graduate from Georgia Tech as a computer science major while his oldest daughter Mackenzi is a 2021 graduate of the University of Georgia (she currently teaches high school science in Georgia’s public school system). His youngest, Sophie, is a proud senior at the University of North Georgia and a proud spouse of a U.S. Navy sailor serving his country in the United States Navy.

GAEL Staff
Robert CostleyExecutive Director706-250-4803
Dusty SmithChief Operating Officer706-250-4802
Ginny SmithFinancial Coordinator706-250-4801
Ivy Young Member Engagement Coordinator706-250-4806
Becky DoveAdministrative Assistant706-250-4800
Hal BeaverDirector, School Improvement (PT)706-250-4805
John TippinsCollections Support (PT)706-250-4817
Don SplinterAdministrative Support (PT)
Dr. Jimmy StokesGAEL Discipline Institute770-601-3798
Cindy FlesherProfessional Learning Coordinator
Wanda LawConference Services Coordinator
Kerensa Wing Co-Director and Team Leader of the GAEL Coaching Services
Dr. Rickey Edmond Co-Director and Team Leader of the GAEL Coaching Services
Board of Directors
Valerie Suessmith President
Dr. Zabrina CannadyPast President
Dr. Aaron GeterPresident Elect
Dr. Chad StoneTreasurer
Kevin GainesGASSP President
Dr. Josh LoweGASSP Member
Dr. Dusty DykesGAMSP President
Jeannette HallamGAMSP Member
Diane BressonGAESP President
Dr. Brittney Mobley GAESP Member
Dr. LaShonda FlandersGACIS President
Travis NesmithGACIS Past President
Michele Sayles HarrisG-CASE President
Dr. Brad BowlingG-CASE Member
Michele ThomasGASPA President
Phillip TrembleGASPA Member
Dr. Kacia ThompsonSSTAGE President
Dr. Nick SauersGELFA President
Tiffany TaylorGaDOE Representative
Richard Smith RESA Representative
Jason BranchGSSA President
Dr. Mark ScottGSSA Member
GAEL Affiliate and Associate Executive Directors
Alan LongGASSP
Melanie SiglerGAMSP706 202-7606
Hal BeaverGAESP706-250-4805
Dr. Jolie HardinGAESP(478) 952-2488
Dr. Claire BuckGACIS770-530-7205
Sarah BurbachG-CASE706-474-4272
Dr. John ZaunerGSSA404-413-8147
Stephanie DobbinsGASPA678-544-0221
Joan WhiteheadSSTAGE