“Roger brings a strong background in business, education and community building to his new role.”
Jamie Scott MacMillan, the great grand-daughter of Joe and Kathryn Albertson and Albertson Foundation president.
Quarles: From pizza stand to foundation chief
By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer
For former Wood River High School teacher and coach Roger Quarles, it’s been a steady rise over 16 years from running a pizza restaurant in Hailey to landing the top spot in the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.
On Monday, Quarles, 52, was named the new executive director of the Albertson Foundation. He replaced Jamie Scott MacMillan, the great grand-daughter of Joe and Kathryn Albertson. The Albertsons started the foundation in 1966.
Quarles, known as an education reformer in an 18-year career in education, was Wood River’s boys’ varsity basketball coach for two seasons from 1997-99. He helped start the Blaine County School District’s high school academy and “School to Work” programs.
He operated the Stadium Pizza restaurant in Hailey for several years before moving into education full time. He has been quoted as saying that running a business made him accountable to customer satisfaction and rate of return.
Quarles had been working as co-director of the Idaho Leads program at Boise State University before the June 9 announcement of his new job at the Albertson Foundation.
He has been praised by colleagues for a leadership style that relies on collaboration. One of his recent jobs was as chief deputy to Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna.
MacMillan, a Boise native and mother of four, had been executive director since 2008. She will continue in the role of president of the private family foundation that, since 1997, has invested more than $600 million in education, in Idaho.
The Boise-based Albertson Foundation says it is committed to the vision of limitless learning for all Idahoans.
“I am excited to continue the great work of the foundation,” Quarles said in a statement on the foundation’s Web site. “I look forward to helping carry on the hopes of the Albertson family to make Idaho an even greater state.”
Joe and Kathryn Albertson started the Albertson grocery store chain in 1939. They established the foundation in 1966 to help fund education, since neither Joe nor Kathryn could finish college during the Great Depression.
“Roger brings a strong background in business, education and community building to his new role,” MacMillan said. “This gives our family and me more capacity to have an impact on the causes we really care about. We love Idaho and we believe in the potential of its people.”
Having attended South Lake Tahoe High School and graduated from Cal State-Chico in 1983, Quarles launched a successful sports-themed restaurant chain in California.
Quarles had a childhood dream of playing professional basketball, but he abandoned that dream after noticing the level of competition in college, and played college volleyball instead at Cal State-Chico.
After moving to Hailey and starting Stadium Pizza located on Main St., Quarles also took the job as assistant boys’ basketball coach at Wood River High School in 1996. He has said he took the advice of former Blaine County School District superintendent Jim Lewis, also a former basketball coach, to get into education.
He commuted to Twin Falls in order to obtain his teaching certificate.
In four years teaching at Wood River High, Quarles was Career Education Director and “School to Work” director. He helped found the Blaine County Academy of Arts and Sciences designed to help students pursue careers in business, technology or arts.
He did graduate work through the University of Idaho-Twin Falls and University of Idaho-Boise. He earned Masters and Doctorate degrees in education leadership and administration.
Quarles left Hailey to become was principal at Kuna High School for five years from 2000-05. He then served as the assistant superintendent for a year and then as superintendent in the Caldwell School District until 2011.
He became co-founder and co-director of Idaho Leads project at the Boise State University Center for School Improvement. That project is meant to build leadership capacity in school districts across Idaho to embrace opportunities and reformation efforts, he said.
One of his primary professional achievements has been to build an entrepreneurial spirit within a bureaucracy, Quarles has been quoted as saying in an Idaho State Department of Education profile.
In July 2013, Quarles took a leave of absence from BSU and accepted a $120,000 position as chief deputy to Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. He spent six months in that position, resigning in January of this year after Luna announced that he would not run for a third team in the top state job.
At the time, Quarles said he had no intention to run for elective office as Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Quarles and his wife Trish have an extended family that includes Roger’s two children, his 26-year-old daughter Brett and his 25-year-old son Anthony, a former Wood River High football player who lives in the Wood River Valley and has a daughter himself.
Now a grandfather, Roger enjoys playing tennis with his wife and cultivates his competitive instincts by playing in the summer holiday tennis tournaments held at Sun Valley nearly every year.