Candice Dodson, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, a leading membership and advocacy organization, died this week in a highway accident in Indiana.
“Candice was an energetic, lifelong educator working throughout her career to better educational opportunities for all learners,” the association, which represents U.S. state and territorial ed-tech leaders, said in a statement.
According to a story in the Evansville Courier & Press, Dodson was killed when her sport utility vehicle collided with a semitrailer near the Evansville Regional Airport. Dodson was a native of Evansville.
Before becoming executive director last year, Dodson was an active SETDA member, serving as the organization’s board chair while she was the director of eLearning for the Indiana Department of Education.
Over the course of her career, Dodson championed advancing and expanding efforts to leverage technology to improve student outcomes. She had 20 years of experience in education in a variety of roles, including serving as a classroom teacher and assistant principal, the nonprofit organization said.
Dodson’s commitment was evident earlier this year, when, while attending a conference in Texas, she began hearing about the potential for COVID-19 school shutdowns, and concerns about what that would mean in rural communities, and for equity of access elsewhere, said Christine Fox, deputy executive director of SETDA.
“They already had e-learning days in Indiana,” Fox said. SETDA’s own research identified that there were 12 state examples of e-learning options, mostly intended for use in inclement weather. “We quickly worked to connect with funders and published the eLearning Coalition page on March 16.
“She was an integral part of that fast response and support to the national community,” Fox recalled.
“That’s a classic example of her passion, too. She definitely wasn’t a person who liked to hear the word, ‘No’,” Fox added.
Dodson also had a good sense of humor. As schools’ remote-learning needs became more obvious during COVID-19, underlining the value of ed-tech and digital learning, “she kept joking on our calls that we should have printed T-shirts that said, ‘I told you so,’ Fox said. During the pandemic, the work of ed-tech offices became much more important to districts, and to governors’ and commissioners’ offices, too, she said.
Keith Krueger, the CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, called Dodson “a consummate collaborator.”
He worked closely with Dodson on a number of initiatives and said her comments at a board meeting for the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training last week were emblematic of how she operated.
It had been a long meeting, and Dodson spoke up at the end. “She said, ‘You know, I just have to tell you all how much I am honored to be part of this community and how much I appreciate that, even when we have disagreements, we work together on solutions,'” according to Krueger.
Earlier this year, Dodson told Education Week about the need to protect data privacy, even as it became necessary for districts to launch remote learning, and she joined other groups in calling for Congress to dramatically increase funding to address internet access gaps.
Eric Hileman, executive director of information technology for Oklahoma City Public Schools and Chair of SETDA’s board, expressed in a statement the “gratitude and great appreciation for Candice’s many instrumental and decisive contributions to SETDA and the greater educational community.”
Dodson was appointed to the executive directorship in March 2019, replacing Tracy Weeks who had held that position for three years before taking a position in the private sector.