What is your current/most recent occupation (position and company)?
My current position is with Apple in the Special Projects Group. I specialize in Machine Learning and scaled data. Previously, I was at Tesla on the Autopilot team and helped build the local Engineering team in the Austin area.
What education, training, experience, and background qualify you for this position?
In comparison with others campaigning for the board, my background will seem unconventional. While I’ve taught classes at a college, I've no experience as a K-12 instructor. I deliver products and manage teams in the technology industry, but I've little direct experience working with teaching staff. I’ve worked at some of the most advanced companies in the world, but never in a public school.
However, as an unconventional learner, I have a lot of direct experience with school systems struggling with a student who doesn’t fit the mold. My K-12 experience was extremely rocky because few teachers knew how to connect with me. Even during my university years, my struggles continued until I finally found programs that fit my learning style.
My personal experience led me to develop great appreciation of several items, such as:
• Even though it would be easier for everyone to be the same, children are unique - sometimes very unique. I do not believe in systems that try to force a generalized method of learning - instead, I believe in nurturing and leveraging variances in learning techniques.
• Miserable staff create miserable learning environments. Therefore, teachers must also have a development path - a way to stay engaged and excited.
• Inspiring interest in learning is vastly more effective than forcing material on students.
• Teaching specifically how to pass a test is not the same as teaching a subject.
• Socializing skills and physical activities are as important as knowledge building.
• And more.
I have passionate viewpoints about the educational system from my own experiences, but I think for me the results turned out fairly well. My goal in serving on the board is to help create a learning environment that will be less painful for both students and teachers.
What is your relevant experience?
For many years, I’ve supported many non-profit organizations promoting learning ranging from The Arts to STEM Programs. My goal is to become more directly involved and have a greater impact.
I'm certain that I'm not the typical candidate for the School Board. However, I've had a lot of professional technology experience which I hope to leverage in this position. In these days of distance and online learning, I hope to have the opportunity to offer innovative ideas to give our school system first-rate capabilities. Additionally, I hope to provide value with an outsider's viewpoint.
What skills or traits will allow you to contribute to effective operations of the board as a whole?
The previous 5-year strategic plan ends in 2021, so the upcoming year will be a critical year for the school district. A major deliverable will be to create the next 5-year strategic plan. The development of the strategic plan must be carried out while the school district continues to focus on both the pandemic and population growth.
For a viable plan to be created, the board needs to understand requirements and agree on goals and priorities. I have considerable experience with strategic development in the technology industry. I specialize in understanding requirements, documenting plans, and creating paths to success which must be accomplished on very tight schedules.
The board is responsible for establishing and overseeing policies and priorities. The superintendent, like a corporate CEO, is responsible for advising and advocating for any changes. The result is that the board must have a good relationship with the superintendent to measure effectiveness and/or evaluate and/or hire for the position. Again, my corporate experience should be an asset to this process with my experience of hiring and managing senior staff.
Related to the next 5-year strategic plan, the board must be prepared to create a comprehensive budget that is understandable and transparent. Managing significant budgets has been part of my career for many years.
Lastly, communication with parents, staff and the overall community is crucial. I’m probably looking forward to this aspect of the job more than anything. I’ve been meeting with small groups of parents and answering questions for the last few weeks, and it has been both informative and interesting. I look forward to having wide engagements with the community so we can all create plans ensuring our students have a great start.
What other local organizations are you involved in or volunteer at?
I continue to be involved in several organizations in Oak Ridge and Seattle, but this is the first local organization I’ve reached out to in Dripping Springs – and it’s overdue!
Why have you decided to run for school board?
I’ve been active in a variety of programs promoting education for years. I’m particularly interested in programs for girls in Engineering. I believe I can leverage the momentum of science in the Austin area and create appealing programs. I think I'll be helpful in building a successful District that creates a strong academic start for our children.
If elected, what goals would you have for your term in office?
I believe in creating student opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). In the Austin area, the Engineering community is growing dramatically. My goal is to assist in the development of complementary partnerships and appealing education programs in Dripping Springs.
What are your priorities beginning in May if elected?
Gather information from teachers, parents and staff, create a long-term strategy and ensure all resource requirements are met. I think all school systems have a lot of work to transition to a post-COVID system. While long-term programs are important, it is critical to get our students back to a balanced system of learning.
How long have you lived in or been a part of the Dripping Springs community?
We moved to Dripping Springs nearly 9 years ago. I grew up in Oak Ridge, TN and have lived in several places including Munich and Seattle.
Do you have any students in the district? Please also tell me about your family.
My wife and I met while both living in Munich in 2005. Moved to Dripping Springs in 2012. Have 5-year-old daughter, Asta Eeva, who is starting Kindergarden this fall.
What are you reading right now, or what was the last book you read?
"Ada Lace, on the Case" - 😊 My 5-year old daughter loved it!