GAEL Leadership & Staff

Robert 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, most recently, as a Georgia superintendent for eleven years.

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 recent graduate from Georgia Tech as a computer science major while his oldest daughter Mackenzi marches for the Redcoat Band at the University of Georgia. His youngest, Sophie, is currently a senior in high school and is a color guard leader in the marching band.


GAEL Staff
Robert CostleyExecutive Director706-250-4803
Patricia MyersDirector of Conferences706-250-4806
Dusty SmithChief Operating Officer706-250-4802
Ginny SmithFinancial Coordinator706-250-4801
Becky DoveAdministrative Assistant706-250-4800
Deborah WhiteDirector, Leadership Development (PT)706-250-4804
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
Board of Directors
Jesse DavisPresidentBibb County Schools
Ben WigginsPast PresidentOconee County Schools
Richard BazemorePresident ElectMonroe County Schools
Claire BuckTreasurerOconee County Schools
Jim FinchGASSP PresidentMonroe County Schools
Rodney SwansonGASSP MemberDeKalb County Schools
Connie StovalGAMSP PresidentDawson City Schools
Rhonda GulleyGAMSP MemberUpson County Schools
Shawn WilliamsGAESP PresidentBarrow County Schools
Todd WillifordGAESP MemberEmanuel County Schools
Alicia McCartneyGACIS PresidentGwinnett County Schools
Rodney GreenGACIS MemberLowndes County Schools
Zabrina CannadyG-CASE PresidentHouston County Schools
Tris GillandG-CASE MemberFulton County Schools
Valerie SuessmithGASPA PresidentHenry County Schools
Brad BrownGASPA MemberHall County Schools
Donna McClainSSTAGE PresidentWare County Schools
Jami BerryGELFA PresidentUniversity of Georgia
Caitlin DooleyGaDOE RepresentativeGaDOE
Rachel SpatesRESA RepresentativeWest Georgia RESA
Bronwyn Ragan-MartinGSSA PresidentEarly County Schools
Aaron GeterGSSA MemberWilkinson County Schools
Affiliate Executive Directors
Melton CallahanGASSP770-289-8759
Bob HeaberlinGAMSP706-250-4805
Hal BeaverGAESP706-250-4805
Deborah WhiteGACIS706-250-4804
Sarah BurbachG-CASE706-474-4272
John ZaunerGSSA404-413-8147
Wilma WidmerGASPA770-687-1299