Question: Why is this position important to you?
Answer: Student success, by whatever measure is important to them, is important to me. And California is important to me. My family moved to California from the Panama Canal Zone when I was five years old. I spent my formative years being raised by a single mom; money was tight; we were a team; her goal was that I get a great education to be able to support myself and my future family. With her support, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. California’s public school system, especially its teachers, afforded me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams. I want this for all students. I have spent the last 20 years devoted to supporting our students, our schools, and our education system. This role, representing Palo Alto and Stanford on the FHDA Board, is part of a continuum of my commitment to education and students.
Question: Why the FHDA board?
Answer: California’s Community Colleges are a critical part of a network of education options to propel California’s students and its economy. Foothill and De Anza are jewels in the crown of this system. Both schools were recently named in the top 10 of California’s 116 community colleges for 2024. Sonya Christian, Chancellor of California’s 116 community colleges shared in a recent commentary:
“The Community College System is one of our state’s most valuable assets, our main engine of social mobility. We generate $128 billion in annual income for California, amounting to more than 4% of the state’s gross product.
We are essential to the state’s achieving its ambitious goals in everything from climate policy, to growing a world-class labor force, to expanding the middle class. We are essential to the state’s ability to address a massive nursing shortage, support an aging population, prepare for an electric future in need of skilled and trained technicians and more.”
As I’ve met our neighbors across Palo Alto and Stanford, including alumni and current students, I’m struck by how many times I’ve heard, “Foothill-De Anza changed my life” and struck by the opportunity the schools present to produce the workforce California needs to face its most pressing challenges.
Question: What are your priorities for FHDA?
Answer: My priorities are:
Support student success, as defined by each student, by creating an environment ripe for learning and removing barriers to that learning. Some examples include creating a registration system across both schools, assisting and enabling faculty and staff, supporting student social/emotional health, addressing transit to/between the campuses, finding student housing solutions, and providing support for students’ basic needs.
Support the district's fiscal sustainability by addressing the upcoming enrollment-driven state funding cliff, shepherding bond-funded building programs to ensure quality projects that meet our instructional and communal needs, and responsibly stewarding resources provided by our students, community, and state.
Support California and our students with programs, degrees, and partnerships designed to create California’s future workforce addressing the issues and opportunities presented by climate change, an aging population, and workforce shortages.
My decades working in for-profit and nonprofit organizations in finance, operations, and HR provide me the tools to tackle a wide range of financial, operational, and organizational issues. My style is no-drama, thoughtful, and collaborative. My LinkedIn profile (at this link) provides some details of my career that demonstrate the depth and breadth of my experience.
Question: You were a member of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education (BoE). Does that work help prepare you for the Foothill-De Anza Board?
Answer: For people who’ve never been on a BoE, they would be surprised that much of the work isn’t on the dais making decisions but reaching out to the many constituents (students, staff, families, school and district administrators, residents, taxpayers, experts, et al) for their input, managing the superintendent, approving budgets and strategy, handling the high stakes issues with clarity, calmness, and consistency, keeping abreast of legislation and new issues across education, and keeping students in focus and ensuring their voices are heard when there’s a lot of noise in the system. I have done all of these and managed to do them with transparency and empathy and without drama. I have made tough decisions and managed a district leader through an early exit when I was Board President.
I have worked through the noise and vitriol when our students asked us to change the names of schools that made them feel unwelcome and “less than.” I launched and managed a high-profile independent investigation when sexual misconduct on one of our campuses was threatening to impede equal access to education for some of our students and the district’s response wasn’t good enough. I have cut budgets being careful to keep cuts away from the classrooms. I have handled having the public from neighboring communities objecting to our sex education curriculum and disrupting our board meetings and intimidating our staff. These are a few examples. It’s hard to predict what will arise, but I know there will be expected and unexpected issues, and the experiences I have had help prepare me to address them.
Question: What else about your time on the PAUSD BoE prepares you for the Foothill-De Anza Board?
Answer: Serving on the BoE of a public Pre-K to 12 school district is both busy and joyful. Palo Alto Unified has 18 sites and, at that time, 12,000+ students. I loved being on site and hearing student voice from the pre-kindergarteners but especially from the teens. I’m proud of the work I did at PAUSD including establishing wellness centers and programs at both high schools, introducing full day kindergarten, introducing social/emotional learning at all levels, creating homework guardrails to limit hours spent, getting bonds and parcel taxes passed, overseeing construction, and day after day, meeting with constituents to ensure I could represent their needs.
Question: Are you running against an incumbent in this race?
Answer: No, there's no incumbent in the race for Trustee Area 5 (Palo Alto/Stanford). The district re-organized a few years ago and now is split up into trustee areas. This is the first time there'll be an election for Trustee Area 5 which covers Palo Alto and Stanford, and there is no incumbent who happens to live here so it's an open seat.
Question: Are Foothill College and De Anza College destinations for our Palo Alto graduates?
Answer: Yes! Foothill is the number 1 school to which our Palo Alto grads matriculate. Over the last four years, 15% of Gunn and 10% of Paly graduates matriculated to Foothill College, more than any other college or university. An additional 1-2% from each high school matriculated to De Anza College. The stats are here and here, if you're interested.
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