Joel is a 1995 graduate of Indiana University School of Law and a 1992 graduate of DePauw University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Secondary Education. Currently, he is a partner at Hand, Ponist, Smith & Rayl.
Previously, Joel worked as the Director of Legislative and Governmental Affairs for the Indiana Department of Public Instruction from 2007 to 2009 and on the Department’s legal staff from 1995 through 1996. Joel also worked for more than a decade as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Marion, Hamilton and Carroll Counties during which time he tried in excess of 80 jury trials.
Joel is part of a family that has served public education in Indiana for seven generations. A former national college debate champion and a former deputy prosecutor, he served as legislative liaison to State Superintendent Suellen Reed. Joel is well known around the Statehouse and he is dedicated to promoting public education and opposing the privatization of our public schools. He is one of the founders of ICPE when it was launched in January of 2011.
For his efforts, Joel has received numerous awards and recognitions including the Indiana Department of Education “Bellringer Award” from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Suellen Reed in 2009, the 2007 M.A.D.D. National Prosecutor of the Year Award, the 2006 Indiana Governor’s Council on Impaired and Dangerous Driving Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year Award, the 2005 Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Executive Director’s Award and the 2005 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Public Service Award. Joel has also served as a faculty member for numerous continuing legal education programs including the National Advocacy Center.
So, what does Joel Hand do for ICPE?
Approximately twenty percent of Joel’s professional time is spent operating as general counsel and lobbyist for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.
Joel works tirelessly all year supporting pro-public education legislation and fighting against legislation that would not benefit public education.
In the summer months, there are summer study committees in which bills are created, tweaked, and/or revamped. There are limited hearings during these committees. And often they are filled with voices that support the bill. Most often these bills are trying to dismantle public education. Joel makes an effort to be a part of the hearings, but in committees, hearing time is limited to a few hours and often time runs out before he can speak.
Before each session, Joel tracks various pieces of legislation. The state-level ICPE creates an agenda by lining all the bills up and compares them. Usually Vic and Joel do this. They then present them to the state board of ICPE and let they determine their positions on the bills.
The session begins and ICPE follows the bills.
During the legislative session, the bills get filed and assigned a committee. If it gets a hearing, the author of the bill will present and explain what it is intended to do. The author of the bill will bring along supporters to testify in favor of the bill. Lobbyists will also testify. As he does with the summer study committees, Joel makes an effort to speak during the hearing time. The hearings are often unbalanced, stacked with testimony in favor of the bill. Sometimes, Joel will gather members from ICPE and others in the community to help provide a voice that is louder than just his own.
Once a bill leaves a committee, Joel works with individual legislators more directly.
No man is an island. In addition to working individually for ICPE, Joel participates in “lunch bunch” sessions where lobbyists that represent various pro-public education groups—From ISTA and AFT to IPS and the Small & Rural School Association—meet and discuss various pieces of legislations. They try to find issues within pieces of legislation they have an agreement on and create a better, strong, collective voice. These folks then go and meet individually with representatives at the Statehouse and help push the collective, pro-public education view.
Your membership helps pay for Joel’s time. The more money ICPE can send his way, the more time he can devote to fighting for public education and representing ICPE, which is what he strongly desires to do.