My parents moved our family to Pleasanton in 1969 from Berkeley. That same year the riots in People’s Park took place that resulted in the Governor sending in the National Guard to patrol and help with the rioting, a historical event known as Bloody Thursday. This childhood memory stands out in my mind, seeing tanks rolling down Shattuck and University Avenues, businesses with boarded-up windows, and all the Vietnam War protests.
After my younger brother was born, we started to out-grow our house. My parents thought it would be a good idea to look for a new house in a new community. They looked in Piedmont and were told by a real estate agent; a house could not be shown to them and that they wouldn’t fit in because my Dad was not an Attorney or a Physician. My Mom couldn’t believe it. So they went to look in Orinda and Lafayette and were told the same thing. Finally, on a hot summer Saturday, frustrated, they drove to Pleasanton. There was a lot of new construction, and they could get a lot more house for the money.
On weekends we would drive out to Pleasanton to check on the construction of our new house and stop for a treat at Safeway. I would jump onto a blue vinyl stool at the Soda Fountain counter inside the Safeway store. Legs dangling and my skin sticking to the stool, my Dad would order me a Coke float. I would enjoy the air-conditioned store and wonder what it would be like to live in Pleasanton. There was not a tie-dyed shirt anywhere to be seen, just guys in cowboy boots and girls in Keds.
I was sad to leave my best friend and next-door neighbor, Mark. I made new friends here, and life goes on. We were one of only a handful of Chinese families in town. I started 3rd grade at Alisal, then onto the old Pleasanton Elementary School for 6th thru 8th grade (now the school district offices) and then part of the 3rd graduating class at Foothill High School. I love seeing people around town that I think look the same as they did in middle school – there are many of you out there. It makes me happy.
My two children, Max and Ally attended Pleasanton schools K-12 and are now attending college. Once my kids started elementary school, I got involved and became active at our school and in school district activities. Every year, I became more knowledgeable about public school and the landscape of public education statewide. I gained much of my knowledge about PUSD through being involved in with our local PTA. My first leadership role was PTA President at Alisal Elementary, then I became a founding member, created the first Wellness Committee and eventually President of the Pleasanton PTA Council. I was invited to serve on the CA State PTA Board of Managers from 2007-2015. I had many leadership roles: Vice-chair of the Health Commission, Chair, Resolution Committee, and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair. I represented the State PTA on several CA Department of Education Committees including the CA State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson’s Environmental Blue Print Task Force.
Before getting elected to the school board in 2008, I was a member of the Budget Advisory Committee and served on the Excellence Committee. I have been an advocate for student health issues and in 2003 worked to get a school board policy adopted on Managing Food Allergies in Schools. I was a major contributor to the original PUSD Wellness Policy. Over the years, I volunteered on many committees, including one of the first Go Green Committees and the Sun Safety Initiative. In other volunteer roles, I have served as an Executive Board Member on the Alameda County Tobacco Tax Coalition (oversight for the Master Settlement Agreement), the Greater Bay Area Coordinated School Health Planning Committee and on the Executive Board of the Peralta District PTA, which serves Alameda County PTA units.
In my professional life, I am employed by Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. I have held several positions, for nine years as part of the start-up team for Country’s largest youth development center, located in the underserved unincorporated area of the County as the Community and Public Relations Manager. I also managed a project for the Emergency Medical Services Department (EMS) that allowed me to work with all 18 school districts throughout the County on a CPR program for 7th graders. The most satisfying aspect of my job is working with the families and our community partners. Currently, I am assigned to the office of the agency director as a program and policy analyst. It is a true honor to serve the public in my day job!
Upon being sworn in, we immediately had to start making cuts to our budget and programs. It was very difficult to dismantle the many programs the district worked so hard to put in place. While difficult decisions were being made, I worked hard to ensure that we had a full public process and worked to ensure the transparency and communications within the school district continued to build the public’s trust.
In the PUSD Trustee role, I served on the Alameda County School Boards Association as the VP of Education, Board President for the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program (ROP), PUSD Audit Committee, California School Boards Association (CSBA) peer elected delegate, in 2016 appointed to the CSBA Legislative Committee, and served as PUSD Board President in 2014 and 2016. I also served on PUSD’s, Audit, Facilities and Policy sub-committees, and I represented PUSD on the City of Pleasanton’s Economic Vitality Committee.
As a long time advocate for children and public education, being elected to the school board in 2008 helped me to further my advocacy work and enable me to build relationships and work with our State Legislators. Active school board members who have knowledge in the operations of public education and see the bigger picture are needed now more than ever. School board members are vital to the stewardship of our public education system. It requires a shared vision, a shared sense of responsibility, and the head and heart to make the purposeful steps needed to keep our school district upright.
It has been an honor to serve my community and have been entrusted to represent the community to keep an eagle eye on the budget, policies, our students, and staying focused on what matters most.