In January 2021, I with a small group of volunteers initiated the Gibson Recall to reopen SDUHSD schools, which resulted in the resignation of Trustee Gibson.
The SDUHSD board initiated a nomination process to replace Trustee Gibson. The board requested each candidate to submit an application. My application has much about my qualifications, work, and advocacy for students.
I’m the most qualified candidate to serve constituents in Area 5 due to my business and professional acumen, educational credentials, and relentless advocacy for students. My competencies and diverse background will infuse innovative, holistic visions at SDUHSD.
I’m the only candidate with an indisputable track record focused on advocating for kids. In 2018, I ran for school board (www.vote4lea.org) under the slogan “Empower Students to Lead and Succeed,” by prioritizing the whole student. As an independent, I funded my own campaign, and I was endorsed by former SDUHSD trustee, Mr. John Salazar. Relatively new to SDUHSD and running against two acclaimed candidates, I garnered ~2700 votes. My campaign raised awareness about how the conflict of interest between the Teacher’s Union and the District hurts children.
My professional career began on Wall Street as a software engineer developing financial applications. Upon moving to San Diego in 1997, I started a consulting company to help corporations transition outdated mainframe systems into new technologies.
Upon becoming a mother, family priorities shifted: I had to redefine myself. A group of us formed Innolink, Inc to commercialize Israeli technologies in the USA. Gaining expertise in the entrepreneurial world, I launched ventures surrounding social responsibility. My passion for social justice stems from my upbringing with Judeo-Christian philosophies, ‘Tikkun Olam,’ repairing the world for the collective good, is part of my vision for our community.
I spearhead Iclique-in, a human resources platform (www.haychamba.com) that enables blue-collar workers to connect with employers via bilingual texting.
I later pioneered women’s networking events using concepts like respect, confidence, and trust to form intellectual-emotional connections. I developed the 7P’s Method that made workshops interactive by shifting power to participants. I’d use this method to hear student needs and empower each stakeholder to contribute to our community.
Personal development workshops extended into delivering professional development for managers and executives (www.iqnetinteractive.net). Through working with corporate clients, I developed a cross-cultural and collaborative communication method called e-LEADERSHIFT. With my certification as an ATD coach and experience, I coined FACE-IT to help clients discover their authentic self.
My passion for kids began by seeing the world through my child’s eyes. Feeling the pain of bullying through my daughter and her friends, I applied my expertise to launch Deeds By Kids (www.deedsbykids.org). The mission of DBK is to help children to gain life skills and character development through community service projects. One project involved collecting bullying stories and building tools and techniques to help kids navigate adverse situations. Hundreds of stories revealed a consistent pattern that inspired another tool, SELF-Ex., guiding kids to speak assertively and act responsibly in five simple steps.
In the wake of the #Metoo movement, specifically, the Larry Nassar case (USA gymnastics doctor who assaulted gymnasts), I was bewildered: How did the entire system fail to protect kids for over twenty years? Two years prior, my daughter was silenced upon reporting a harassment case at her private school. Seeking answers, I began researching and attending SDUHSD board meetings. Within months, I learned the lay of the land at SDUHSD and nationally. I connected to parents in the district and formed a tight-knit team that launched www.letsspeakup.org to support families through Title IX issues. I produced a research report, The Underground Practices that Normalize Child Abuse. It is currently being transformed into a book, Act Responsibly, under my recent venture, www.ICIARA.com, that integrates software and curriculum to prevent misconduct.
I hold a BA in Financial Service and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from San Diego State University.
The SDUHSD mission sounds good on paper, however, it falls short on implementation, enforcement, and accountability. These setbacks thwart students from reaching their maximum potential and having better educational experiences.
I’ll contribute new ideas, programs, and a fresh perspective to the SDUHSD community, where excellence is achieved by attending to the whole student. I hope to work together in creating a cohesive culture, where each stakeholder understands their roles and responsibilities to achieve the community objectives. I strive to create a safe environment for open and honest communications where each stakeholder’s needs are considered to achieve a balance between personal goals, group achievements, and the collective good.
My style of leadership will certainly benefit the SDUHSD board. A method developed for managers and executives, e-LEADERSHIFT is a facilitative and collaborative method that engenders high-quality action plans by evaluating risks, resources, and support systems. Every element of e-LEADERSHIFT focuses on “purpose.” The “purpose” is collectively defined by the group, where “ONE: Objectives, Needs, and Expectations” are defined by every stakeholder to align a common mission:
e-LEADERSHIFT is an acronym that delineates its methodology. To give brief insight, “L” stands for listening attentively to every relevant party, “E” stands for embracing differences and similarities, and “A” stands for asking questions with the intent to understand, clarify, and assess solutions. “I” stands for inspecting/integrating resources, and finally, “T” stands for transferring responsibilities to each stakeholder.
As mentioned in my previous response, my competencies are unique, thus complementary to the current board of trustees.
A Russian Jew with Middle Eastern roots and raised in Israel, I was fortunate to experience an education curriculum that integrated experiential learning, community service, critical thinking, problem resolution, and academic excellence. I am confident in applying some of these innovative methods to enhance the student experience and the community at large.
My immigration story is an important part of who I am today. As a teenager, I immigrated to the United States landing in New York where I lived in a basement with my parents and brothers. My life in Brooklyn taught me humility while connecting with diverse ethnicities, religious affiliations, and communities ranging from ultra-orthodox to ultra-liberal.
I’ve lived in San Diego for the past 24 years, so I am well versed in my community’s evolution. I believe strongly that my cultural background will better represent SDUHSD’s diverse socio-demographics due to my intimate understanding of diversity and inclusion.
Lastly, I am the only independent candidate with no special relationships with any board members or conflicts of interest with any group/political party. My leadership is oriented toward student wellness and the collective good of our community through a formulated, process-oriented, and purpose-based vision.
I believe that 2021 is a pivotal year, especially for students and teachers amidst COVID-19. With this in mind, a trustee must possess qualities that align with their roles and responsibilities. He/she must be:
School Board Members must unconditionally care for children and their well-being; we must ensure that each decision is made in students’ best interests by seeing the world from their perspective. All the while, the trustee must fulfill their fiduciary duties. This paradigm must couple with a collaboration between stakeholders who promote SDUHSD’s mission and vision–this vision will triumph through offering diverse opportunities for children to excel academically, thrive socially/emotionally, and explore their passions.
As a visionary, the trustee will set direction where every stakeholder aligns their roles and responsibilities with the district’s goals. That vision must unite the community under a cohesive culture where school is a safe environment for everyone. For this to transpire, norms, guidelines, and policies must be communicated clearly to all stakeholders. The trustee must ensure that the systems in place are enforced and that stakeholders are held accountable to restore trust and confidence.
This brings me to the next quality of being independent, and free of relationships to any special interest groups. I believe that conflicts of interest obscure judgment, depriving students from equal access to educational opportunities. Therefore, to prioritize our children’s’ needs, a trustee must remain objective all the while possessing a passion for students.
Although systems are in place, a trustee must possess the skills to bring new structures to the table. They should provide effective resources, tools, and techniques to serve 13,000 students including various groups and special needs. Proper systems will help board members gather qualitative and quantitative data to achieve SDUHSD’s mission. My expertise in technology and financial applications will help streamline processes that monitor budgets. I aim to allocate more funds toward student success, such as leadership training and social-emotional workshops.
In order to achieve our vision, a trustee must communicate assertively, clearly, and respectfully. Adversity and conflicts are inevitable; controversy is 100% guaranteed. The only question that remains is how to bridge differences. How do we agree to disagree respectfully? How do we negotiate, influence, and make compromises? How do we engage in healthy debates, so the best ideas rise to the surface?
I adhere to the philosophy that collective wisdom is greater than the wisdom of a few. I employ e-LEADERSHIFT to promote open and honest communication. It allows me to learn and understand others’ perspectives by listening and questioning with intent. Through the years, this very tool enables me to facilitate conversations with opposing views and infuse them into new philosophies or ideas. A trustee who is principle-driven and solution-oriented will make high-quality decisions by assessing the risks/rewards of each.
All of us strive to protect our kids, ensure their safety, and help them achieve their dreams. A champion for students’ rights who is confident in furthering our children’s well-being brings tremendous credibility and trust to the board. Not only have I been a relentless advocate for students but hold much knowledge of the inner workings at SDUHSD and government agencies. I am confident in my ability to navigate the system to yield beneficial outcomes for students, their families, and community members.
My primary affiliation with SDUHSD is as a relentless student advocate. I am also a parent and a community member who has lived in the district for over twenty years. Making schools a better place for the collective good begins with student safety and wellness.
Over the past few years, I’ve dedicated my time, resources, and expertise to spark positive change at SDUHSD:
I’ll strive to work with trustees to achieve SDUHSD’s mission. My unique competencies and collaborative approaches aim to support our kids’ success holistically.
Academics are important, but student wellness falls short. Excellence, therefore, has yet to be achieved. The lockdown posed much emotional distress, depression, and anxiety that derailed many children. For this reason, my first goal is to help reopen schools full time–safely, of course. As a trustee, I would influence the board to provide each stakeholder–from families to staff– the option to return based on their personal circumstances.
Next, I’d integrate meaningful and practical programs addressing mental health on a regular basis. Because students must readjust to full-time school after a year of distance learning, I will ensure that students experience a smooth transition to ‘normalcy.’ I will construct social-emotional programs giving them tools to overcome the pandemic’s residue and beyond.
Life and leadership skills shall be implemented to help kids on their journey ahead. I would implement workshops similar to one I recently developed, Be Your Own Advocate, that empowers children to address their needs confidently to make progress. I would introduce weekly sessions called Obstacles and Opportunities, where students will discover how challenges are the catalyst to confidence. In addition, I would envision ongoing effective personal development programs and leadership workshops, among other educational segments based on the needs of the community.
I will also implement effective professional leadership training, applicable to various stakeholders in the school system. Adults’ roles in kids’ lives have changed. Children no longer need us only for information; knowledge of a topic can be acquired through the click of a button. Kids today need adults to guide them to apply the information in their daily lives. Hence, parents, teachers, and administrators should develop skills in facilitation, coaching, mentoring, and active communication. Through diverse activities and interactions, students will be fully engaged inside and outside the classroom.
Another long-term goal of mine is to understand SDUHSD’s assets, resources, and technologies. With my expertise, I will introduce innovative technological solutions with centralized qualitative and quantitative objective data. There should be a one-point-access, where institutional memory can be housed and accessed with ease. Technological platforms can help improve communication, transparency, accountability, and measure outcomes objectively to achieve our missions.
How can any of these goals be accomplished? My preferred approach to any solution is to, first, establish a clear purpose, which I call “ONE–” Objectives, Needs, and Expected outcomes. When ONE is established, all stakeholders are aligned, and can swiftly begin the evaluation process. By collecting accurate data and facts, conducting research surveys and focus groups, and facilitating committees and other forums, we house more than enough information at our community’s center. In line with a common purpose, we would present the findings to all stakeholders for feedback. My e-LEADERSHIFT method will, once again, be applied to collaborating with fellow trustees and stakeholders to foster positive solutions. Upon consensus on the solution, each group may devise and contribute to action plans with practical tools and support systems in place. Then, we submit the plan for review, garner feedback from relevant parties, and improve it until everyone signs off on the plan.
The vision of SDUHSD is “to provide a world-class education for all students through quality programs that engage students, inspire achievement and service to others; prepare them to be lifelong learners and responsible members of society.”
Every community member and stakeholder should contribute to creating an environment where all students can reach their full potential. SDUHSD has done a phenomenal job in ranking highly in academics, however, we must continue improving to rank higher holistically. If children’s mental health continues to suffer, their performance will fall, their responsibility will plummet, and their aspirations will dim. The whole student must be accounted for not only on paper, but in action. SDUHSD seeks to inspire students in achieving their aspirations, and I will do anything in my power to endow them with the tools to live their passions. Providing students with the necessary tools and resources to thrive, they can enter adulthood driven to be “lifelong learners” who are motivated to repair the world for the collective good. I share the vision of SDUHSD, however, we have yet to secure the well-rounded potential of our kids. With my competencies, professional experience, and diverse background, I believe that I can help integrate a more holistic vision into our community.