CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gayle Manchin, the wife of Sen. Joe Manchin, has been appointed West Virginia’s Secretary of Education and the Arts, according to an announcement by Governor-elect Jim Justice’s transition team.
Gayle Manchin previously served on the state West Virginia Board of Education from 2007 to 2015, serving as president starting in 2013.
She was West Virginia’s first lady when Joe Manchin was governor from 2005 to 2010.
“I am honored to serve the people of West Virginia in this new role and help Governor-elect Justice move our state forward,” Gayle Manchin stated. “West Virginia’s history and culture must be preserved and promoted, and I am looking forward to this opportunity to help our state. I want to enhance the quality of life for all of our citizens in this new role.”
She’ll succeed Kay Goodwin, who has retired.
Much of Gayle Manchin’s educational and employment background lines up with education and the arts.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in language arts and education and a master’s degree in reading (now called masters in literacy education) from West Virginia University. She also holds a second master’s in educational technology leadership from Salem International University. She has taught at Fairmont State University and in Marion County public schools. She also led Fairmont State’s first Community Service Learning Program.
As West Virginia’s first lady, Manchin served as a commissioner on the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service, the chairwoman of the Governor’s Healthy Lifestyles Coalition and the West Virginia Citizen’s Council on Children and Families, and as co-chairwoman on the Governor’s 21st Century Jobs Cabinet and the Intellectual Infrastructure of Vision Shared.
Gayle Manchin previously worked at the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts, where she put in place the West Virginia Partnerships to Assure Student Success initiative (WV PASS).
“Gayle Manchin has a real passion for our state and making sure our kids get a fair shot at success,” Justice stated in the announcement. “I know she will help shine a spotlight on West Virginia’s rich history and culture in her new role. She will help my administration share the beauty and spirit of West Virginia with the world, and work to improve the lives of our people.”
Gayle Manchin received some negative attention within the past year when she was the subject of a USA Today story following up on the cost of EpiPens, a product with a near-monopoly for Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which is run by Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch.
USA Today wrote, “After Gayle Manchin took over the National Association of State Boards of Education in 2012, she spearheaded an unprecedented effort that encouraged states to require schools to purchase medical devices that fight life-threatening allergic reactions.”
The secretary for Education and the Arts oversees six agencies, including the Division of Culture and History, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Center for Professional Development, the West Virginia Library Commission, the Division of Rehabilitation Services and Volunteer WV.
Sen. Joe Manchin issued his own statement about his pride over Gayle Manchin’s appointment.
“I am incredibly proud that my wife Gayle has been appointed as West Virginia Secretary of Education & the Arts,” he stated. “Nobody is more proud of our West Virginia heritage than Gayle Manchin. In this role, she will encourage all West Virginians to embrace the rich culture and educational and artistic history our state has. Gayle has dedicated her entire life to public service and education in West Virginia and I know that she will bring that same passion and commitment to her new role.”