An impressive list of candidates has applied for the vacant seat on the Sacramento City Unified School District board, with recommendation letters from a who's who in local politics and school leadership.
Trustee Ellyn Bell announced last month that she is resigning from the board to move to San Francisco for her job. Fellow board members voted to appoint a replacement to serve the remaining two years of Bell's term instead of holding a costly special election.
Bell represents Area 1, which includes Land Park, downtown, midtown and Curtis Park.
The board will interview applicants at a special board meeting Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Finalists may be asked to make presentations to the board Dec. 20.
Here are the candidates:
Gwynnae L. Byrd runs a business efficiency consulting firm and is active in the community. She previously was the deputy legislative counsel to the Legislative Counsel Bureau and chief counsel and principal consultant to Senate Majority Leader Richard Polanco. Byrd ran for the Sacramento City school board in 1996.
"I have always looked for opportunities to serve my community, and will continue to do so in ways that I hope can make a difference in the lives of others," Byrd wrote in her application.
Jay Hansen is the chief strategy officer for the California Medical Association. He was formerly the legislative and political director for the State Building and Construction Trades Council. He helped found the Sacramento Stonewall Club.
"Public service is truly one of the most important things a citizen can do," Hansen wrote in his application. "While great opportunities to serve are all around us, the chance to serve as a Sacramento City Unified school board member is certainly special."
Bina E. Lefkovitz is founder and co-director of the Youth Development Network, which teaches organizations how to support youth development in the workplace. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg wrote a personal letter recommending Lefkovitz, whom he has known for 20 years.
"My goal in seeking membership on the SCUSD Board is to continue advocating for better supports and opportunities for students and families, especially those who are most vulnerable," Lefkovitz wrote in her application.
Anna F. Molander, an attorney for the state Department of Health Care Services, previously was a senior associate for the Ryan Law Group and Bullivant Houser Bailey. Molander's community and volunteer roles include commissioner of the city of Sacramento's Planning and Design Commission and board member of the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra.
"I want to see Sacramento's schools hailed as the best schools in California," Molander wrote in her application. "A strong public school system is the bedrock of a healthy and prosperous community."
Samara D. Palko is a classroom assistant and founder of the Parent Teacher Group at David Lubin Elementary School. She works as a real estate agent and is a board member of the Midtown Neighborhood Association. She previously worked as a differentiated learning instructor.
"I want to be a school board member to continue to work collectively with all stakeholders in the education system including students, parents, staff, administration and the community at large to improve student outcomes," Palko wrote in her application.
David Ross, director of Alpine Adventures, has served in a leadership capacity on the Sacramento Children's Chorus and on site councils at California Middle School and Sutterville Elementary. Ross is an elected member of the Cordova Recreation and Park District and volunteers with Sacramento City Unified's District Advisory Council. Ross previously ran for Bell's seat in 2010.
"My knowledge of the district will allow me to be a good steward of the district and a good fit with this board," Ross wrote in his application.
Harold Stewart-Carballo is a regional assistant director for the Early Academic Outreach Program at the University of California, Davis. He previously was an academic enrichment coordinator at UC Davis, overseeing and implementing academic enrichment programs for students in the Sacramento region.
"I want to contribute my perspective and knowledge as an education professional, activist and advocate for quality public education for all children in the schools of the public SCUSD," Stewart-Carballo wrote in his application.
Kathryn J. Tobias, is a classroom volunteer who has been active in the Parent Teacher Student Association at several district schools her son has attended. Tobias is the senior staff counsel for the state Department of Parks and Recreation and previously was chief counsel for the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
"I have worked for several boards and commissions and I have observed and given a lot of thought to what makes a good board member," Tobias wrote in her application. "I am a good listener and know the value of working toward consensus, even if consensus is not required or reached."