By Michael Baadke
An unexpected change in leadership at the American Philatelic Society appears likely, as the APS president is expected to take on a role in the administration of President Donald J. Trump.
The office of the White House press secretary announced Oct. 3 that Trump intends to nominate APS president Mitchell “Mick” Zais to the position of deputy secretary of education.
Zais is a retired United States Army brigadier general and former South Carolina state superintendent of schools. A 40-year member of the APS, he was elected president of the society in 2016 and was sworn into office in August of that year during APS Stampshow in Portland, Ore.
Zais told Linn’s Stamp News, “If confirmed by the Senate, I will have to resign from all boards and all other employment. Currently there are three boards on which I serve. The APS is one. Additionally, I work for an executive search firm. If confirmed, I will have to resign from that position as well.”
He added that he did not know when the confirmation hearing will be held or when the Senate would vote on the nomination
His term in the APS office currently extends into 2019.
To fill the vacancy if Zais resigns, the APS board of vice presidents will call a meeting of the board of directors within 10 days, and the board will elect a new president from among the 10 remaining board members.
Zais served for 31 years in the United States Army. His assignments included commanding general of all U.S. and Allied forces in Kuwait, and commanding general of Operation Provide Refuge, which brought 4,000 Kosovo refugees out of Macedonia for settlement in the United States. Zais was also the Pentagon’s chief of war plans.
He was president of Newberry College in South Carolina for 10 years and served for four years (2011-15) as South Carolina’s state superintendent of education.
A profile of Zais on the APS website identifies him as a strong advocate for school choice, additionally noting that he developed and instituted an accountability system whereby every school and district in South Carolina received a letter grade of A through F based on measures of student growth and student learning outcomes.
At the University of Washington, he earned Master of Science and doctoral degrees in social psychology and organizational behavior. He also graduated from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., as a post-doctoral research fellow in national security affairs.
His collecting interests include stamps and postal history related to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and the U.S. Army stamps of 1936-37.
Prior to his election as APS president, Zais served on the board of vice presidents from 2013 to 2016.