Affinity Groups Stimulate Networking Opportunities

Recently, AESA completed a redesign process to help guide it toward a thriving future. One of the Bold Steps that emerged from the redesign process was the formation of Affinity Groups. Affinity Groups have begun and you can become a part of them.

What are Affinity Groups? 

The purpose of Affinity Groups will be to broaden your professional networks. They are open to the employees of the ESAs that are members of AESA.  Affinity Groups are formed around common interests or issues, rather than common job titles. Meetings occur electronically throughout the year.  If you work for an ESA that is also a member of AESA, you can join an Affinity Group that interests you! 

How to get involved

Special Education Service Providers Think Tank

This group of special education directors will connect quarterly to share their successes, challenges, trends, and innovative ideas related to the delivery of special education services. Participation in this national forum will offer ESA leaders insights related to the provision of  cutting edge special education service in an effort to continue to anticipate and meet the needs of their clients.  Meetings will be held via Zoom video.  Interested persons should email Sherry Zubeck at to be added to this group. 

Ed-Fi Alliance use by ESAs

This Affinity Group will discuss deployments of the open-source data standard Ed-Fi by education service agencies. Ed-Fi is a nationally adopted data standard that supports a data store and early warning dashboard and is in use in more than 30 states. Ed-Fi enables faster sharing through its use of a data standard which provides a pre-agreed data structure that vendors, systems and databases can all use to make the movement of data more seamless and powerful. More information on Ed-Fi can be found at
Lead contact: Rick Wahlstrom, CIO, Northwest Regional Education Service District, 5825 NE Ray Circle, Hillsboro, OR 

Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice

An Affinity Group discussion about equity, inclusion, and social justice is already underway and is open to any employee of any member-ESA interested in sharing resources, new learning and successes around this topic. Interested AESA members can join this Affinity Group by contacting AESA Executive Director, Joan Wade, at, or group moderator, Scott Menzel, at We will be happy to get you started!

Other Affinity Groups coming soon

  • Nonprofit Organization Entrepreneurism
  • Visible Leadership
  • Communications/PR
  • Blended/Personalized Learning

More information

AESA members interested in leading or participating in an Affinity Group, please contact Dr. Joan Wade, AESA Executive Director.