Desetti leaving KNEA at end of ’21

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Longtime Kansas teacher union lobbyist Mark Desetti will retire at the end of the year, saying he wants to travel, spend more time with his family – and fine tune his banjo playing.

Now 66, Desetti plans to leave the Kansas National Education Association at the end of the year. His last day is Dec. 22. The KNEA is now looking for a replacement.

“I’ve had 23 great years doing this work in Kansas,” Desetti said in an email.

“Now it’s time to pass the job on to someone younger and smarter. I’m confident KNEA will find the right person for the job,” he said.

Desetti recently returned from a trip from Ireland, where he attended his daughter’s wedding. Desetti’s daughter lives in Ireland.

He has a son about to be married and two others moving ahead in their careers. He has a grandson who is 15.

“I think of my own age and health – I’ll be 67 in a few months – and I want to do so many things while I still can. I want to have less stress and more joy,” he said.

“On top of all that, this past year and a half has left a lot of time for putting things in perspective,” he said.

“I’ve had close friends my age who passed; and I struggled with my work in a field where personal relationships matter as I was unable to be with people and enjoy those relationships.

“It’s made this seem like a good time to step down.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Desetti has been with the KNEA since 1998.

He previously was a bilingual teacher for the Round Rock School District in Round Rock, Texas, in the late 1990s.

He held a similar job in the Glendale Unified School District in the 1980s.

In the mid-1990s, Desetti was the director of communications and instructional issues for the Arkansas Education Association.

Before moving to Arkansas, Desetti worked for the Texas State Teachers Association.

Desetti started early in his career during the mid-1970s as a kindergarten teacher for Chesterfield County Public Schools in Chesterfield, Virginia.

He graduated from Kent State University in 1977, earning bachelor’s degrees in telecommunications and education.

“My wife retired from her teaching job this year. My dogs are aging,” he said.

“I plan to enjoy exploring the world with my wife, walking my dogs, and improving my banjo playing.”