Former charter school lobbyist appointed to University of Akron board of trustees

October 3, 2018

Former charter school lobbyist appointed to University of Akron board of trustees

AKRON, Ohio -- The newest member of the University of Akron’s board of trustees is a former lobbyist for White Hat Management, formerly one of the larger networks of charter schools in Ohio.

Thomas Needles, appointed by Gov. John Kasich, is a long-time advocate for school choice. He served as a top education adviser to former Gov. George Voinovich. He worked on former President George H.W. Bush’s campaign and served as a special assistant to the president, according to LinkedIn.

Over the course of his 15 years in state and federal politics, he also served as the chief lobbyist for the state of Ohio in Washington D.C. 

Needles’ client, White Hat Management, used to be one of the largest charter-school operators in the country, but no longer exists as a corporate entity. 

You can read a 2008 editorial he wrote for the Akron Beacon-Journal about school choice here.

Needles is currently a principal at Compass Consulting Group, where he’s worked since 1998. 

Kasich’s website lists “expanding school choice” as one of his accomplishments in education.

Needles also served as the chairman of the Ohio Higher Educational Facility Commission under four Ohio governors. That commission works with independent, non-profit universities such as Case Western Reserve University on tax-exempt bonds to rehab or construct buildings.

Needles has a undergraduate degree from Walsh University and master’s degrees from John Carroll University and the Catholic University of America, a private non-profit school funded by U.S. Catholic bishops. 

He will replace trustee Warren Woolford, whose term ended in July. Woolford was appointed by former Governor Ted Strickland.

Needles’ term will expire in July 2027. 

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