Tara Purcell, President
Having been brought up in an educator’s world, Tara, from a young age, chose a life journey focused on children. Learning is a journey that begins at first breath and continues throughout life. A strong belief that a child is a person of great importance, Tara reaches out beyond the classroom to grab onto all opportunities that are available to our children today. She has served as cheerleading moderator, soccer coach/referee, booster president, Odyssey of the Mind Coach/Judge and anything else that needed to be done. Tara started her PTA experience 21 years ago as an active member serving as a chairman of various committees and even as a local unit president, continuing to serve as Pennsylvania PTA’s Region 10 Vice-President, Legislative & Advocacy Chairman as well as the Federal Legislative & Advocacy Chairman. She knows that today is an exciting building block that will shape the individual, the home, the future. While working as an Administrative Assistant in the Mount Carmel Area School District she continues being a strong volunteer and advocate for students and parents as the district’s Parent Liaison for the past 14 years. A tried and proven leader, Tara has brought a new understanding and awareness of what it means to be involved with the local, district and state Parent Teachers Association. She is not a bench warmer but a hard-working player - helping to shape a new generation. If there is a special need - she doesn't stop until she finds the program that will fill that need. Tara has received recognition on all levels for her dedication and achievements, including receiving the Konrad Lindenberg Memorial Award from The Family Involvement Conference Committee. Tara Purcell is a true advocate that is there 24 hours and not just from the first to the last bell of the day.
Marie Merkel, President-elect
Marie Merkel, PA PTA Secretary lives in Scranton and is the mother of three adult children, Joe, a video photographer in Baltimore, MD; Katy, a Direct Service Provider for St. Joseph’s Center in Scranton; and Tim Jr., a cadet at the Lackawanna College Police Academy. As a full-time special education teacher of 33 years within the North Pocono School District and three years as an adjunct professor, in the Academic Development Department of Lackawanna College, Marie’s experience in PTA spans for over 20 years from local level experience through and including previous Board of Managers experience.
Marie’s PTA experience began at Charles Sumner Elementary School when her oldest son entered PreK. She began as Secretary, then moved onto President at Sumner Elementary. In addition, she was Membership Chair and Field Day Chair at John Marshall Elementary. Moving onto West Scranton Intermediate School, Marie began as Secretary and Membership Chair, then moved into the role of President. During this time, she became President of Scranton Area Council PTA, and started to get involved in Pennsylvania PTA State Board of Managers. At West Scranton High School, Marie held positions of Treasurer, Membership Chair, and President. Most recently, she is the Treasurer and Membership Chair at North Pocono Middle School where she is a teacher. Marie’s experience on the State Board of Managers includes the following: Bylaws Chair, Secretary (previous term), Treasurer, Secretary (current), Region 16 Director, State Convention Chair 2018, and has served on several Board of Managers’ committees, including: awards, convention, health and safety, legislation and advocacy, bylaws, and reflections. As region director, Marie organized several leadership training workshops for Regions 16 and 14 to provide local leaders with leadership tools they need. She has attended National PTA Legislation Conference in 2015 in Washington, D.C. and three National PTA Conventions in San Diego, CA; San Jose, CA; and New Orleans, LA as a delegate for Pennsylvania PTA. Marie enjoys being part of the State Board of Managers and working with local units whenever they call for advice.
Debbie Munson, Secretary
Debbie held several positions in Tracy Elementary PTA, including Treasurer and President, and was awarded the Pennsylvania PTA life Membership. She has attended several Narional and State Conventions and Conferences, as well as several summer schools of information given by the district and state. As District 12 Director, she set up and conducted several Summer Schools of Information. While serving as Region Vice President, Debbie held a Summer School of Information. She developed the workshops that were presented. She earned the passport to leadership advanced level pin. Debbie presented a PIRC workshop on NCLB. As Treasurer, she developed and presented the Treasurer’s Workshop at Summer Leadership Training. Debbie developed The President-Treasurer Connection Workshop with the State President. As Strategic Plan Chairman, Debbie coordinated the phone calls with the NPTA service rep and the committee, incorporated ideas from all into the plan and kept the board apprised of the plan. As part of the Bylaws and Policies Committee, she wrote the investment policy for committee and board approval; helped with bylaws and policy implementations and changes. Debbie then was elected as the Bylaws and Policies Chairman, and has approved local and council unit bylaws, and helped the units to fix errors so the bylaws can be approved. She has compiled the new Diversity and Inclusion Policy that has been adopted by the State Board. As President-elect she helped where needed and set up summer leadership training events. Debbie helped with a complete bylaws revision, state standing rules revision, as well as local and council bylaws model revisions while serving as the state President. She was able to get all of the units that had their 501(c)(3) status revoked, reinstated. After leaving the state board, she served as a consultant to the President, the Bylaws & Policies and the Convention committees. Debbie, being totally committed to PTA, decided to come back on the state board and served as the Region 6 Director. At Convention 2019, she was elected as the Secretary.
Cindy Horner, Treasurer
Cindy graduated cum laude from Mansfield University in 1989 with a B.S. in Business Administration. Her family moved to New Hampshire and Cindy stayed home to raise their children. Cindy became an active PTA member when her oldest child entered kindergarten. She held various positions in the local unit until their family returned to Bellefonte. Not even settled in to their new environment, Cindy jumped right in to serving the local PTA, as well as her youngest son’s playschool. Cindy has served as chairman or co-chairman of many committees, and has held the position of Vice-President of the Benner Elementary PTA. She has served as Region Vice-President for Regions 8 and 6, and is currently serving as the Pennsylvania PTA Treasurer.
In addition to serving the PTA, Cindy participates in the Parent Information Network, was a Cub Scout leader, and is a Boy Scout Merit Badge Counselor.