School hallway/lockers file photo

The Monona Grove School Board appointed an employee of a homelessness nonprofit organization to the body following the death of a School Board member last month.

On Tuesday, the School Board chose Loreen Gage out of a pool of 14 candidates to serve on the board in an interim basis until April, when a special election will be held. The vacancy on the board overseeing the 3,400-student Monona Grove School District came after Jeff Simpson died Aug. 3 from cancer.

Gage, of Cottage Grove, works for the Madison-based nonprofit Housing Initiatives, which finds permanent housing for homeless people struggling with mental illness, as the client service director. She also served as a special-education teacher in Milwaukee and Chicago, according to a statement from the school district.

Simpson was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and had been on the School Board since 2012, according to his obituary. He worked in sales after graduating from Beloit College and was also an active liberal political blogger, primarily passionate about education, equity and labor rights, the obituary said.

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In response to a Wisconsin State Journal election questionnaire in 2018, Simpson, a father of two, listed his occupation as “cancer fighter.”

“Through his blogging, and his time on the Monona Grove School Board, Jeff was known to be a fighter for truth, for what was right, for educators, and for every student, all based on his foundational belief in the innate goodness of our youth,” his obituary said.

“Ms. Gage was an impressive candidate and is highly qualified,” Andrew McKinney, president of the School Board, said in a statement. “I’m confident she will make an excellent addition to our board.”

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