Community social impact leader and volunteer
How did your interest in education begin?
I believe that education has the power to transform lives. Ensuring that all children have an excellent education is key to equity.
My thoughts on education have been shaped by many experiences. I went to a public school. Frankly, I was bored a lot of the time. Sometimes I would sit with a book in my lap reading, thinking the teachers did not notice. Of course, they did. But I got good grades and was well behaved so they focused elsewhere. And we all remember cramming for a test and then forgetting everything the next day. When I went to college, I had many more interesting and stimulating classes. But the process was still the same: listen to a lecture, read a book, have a discussion, write a paper or take an exam. There was not much application of what we learned. Sometimes it was hard to see relevance.
My first job out of college, I worked at a training and development firm as a writer. We worked with many customer service people, often those on the front line taking calls from irate customers. I saw how giving them tools to manage those calls changed their lives. The training was not only useful and relevant, it was hands on. This experience made me think. Could we take what I learned in adult training and apply it to the classroom? Could learning be hands-on, experiential, inspirational and relevant?
By the time my kids started school, what happened in the classroom was better but far from perfect. And I saw that what kids experienced in the poorest neighborhoods was anything but inspirational and relevant. This interest in changing what happens in the classroom and making sure that great teaching was available to all students was a big part of why I joined the UW College of Education board.
How have you been involved in education, professionally or as an advocate, over the years?
I worked in adult training and development – first customer service training and later in the tech world.
In the past two decades, I have started two education startups. I was part of the team that founded Eastside Prep School in Kirkland. We have a vision of teaching and engaging students through inquiry-based pedagogy, experiential learning, interdisciplinary classes, and integration of social-emotional learning. I was also a founding board member of Eastside Pathways. I believe in the collective impact model to bring together all the stakeholders to ensure success for our kids.
I currently serve on the UW College of Education Ambassador board, the League of Education Voters board, and the King County Children and Youth Advisory board which oversees the Youth Action Plan and Best Starts for Kids levy. Previously I served on the boards of Child Care Resources, Thrive Washington, and the Foundation for Early Learning. Through these organizations, I have been an advocate for high-quality, accessible early learning and for a well-funded, relevant K12 system.
Finally, I have been involved as a funder, with my own philanthropy but also through Social Venture Partners, Seattle Foundation and United Way.
What one or two education issues are you most passionate about (and why)?
Equity. Unfortunately, where you live and the color of your skin impacts what type of school you go to and your educational attainment. Why should anyone tolerate this? If a school is not good enough for my kids, then it is not good enough for any child.
Early learning. Because starting out on an even playing field makes a huge difference. Putting dollars into early learning is a great investment. It is the smart thing to do. More importantly, because it transforms children’s lives, it is the right thing to do.
Tell us about an educator who made a particularly large impact on your life.
My speech and debate coach in high school. She encouraged me to be the best I could be. She directed my reading by giving me books and then talking about them with me. I was really shy at the time and she helped me overcome some of my fears.
Share an unusual/fun fact about yourself.
My husband and I do distance bicycling on a tandem.