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My Platform

Below is an outline of objectives I will work toward if I am elected as one of the three new members to the Board:

1) Resolve the lingering personnel dismissal situation to curtail the excessive legal costs; and depending on final hearing outcome, perhaps consider a leadership/culture consultant to improve the administration work environment.

2) Prepare contingency plans to continue vulnerable student programs should federal or state funding decrease.

3) Finalize new teacher’s union contact so all parties can forge ahead for more positive, productive working relationships.

4) Encourage open, responsive and accessible Board dialogue for all stakeholders where issues or challenges are not blocked, filtered out or disregarded on their way to that level.

5) Advocate for teachers to customize courses that drive and inspire students toward specific, desired college majors and careers that align with their passion and abilities, including grasping financial literacy and entrepreneurship, motivating to volunteer in the community and pursuing public speaking or performance arts.

I am Candidate 6A for Williamsville Board of Education: Campaign Schedule

Thank you to fellow District residents who have sent me questions via email! I appreciate the opportunity to engage in dialogue with other parents throughout our community.

I will attend the following local events prior to the District’s Board of Education election on May 16:

1. Board of Education Community Forum, North HS, Sat., 4/29 at 9 a.m.
2. 716 Mile Race at UB North Campus Stadium Track, Sat., 4/29 at 11 am.
3. The PTSA’s Meet the Candidates Night at the District’s office on Thurs., 5/4, 7-9 p.m.
4. Williamsville East 5K race on Fri., 5/5 at 7 p.m.
5. PTSA Service to Youth Awards at East High School, Mon. 5/8, 6 p.m.

My View on Running for Board of Education

As I embark on my candidacy for the Williamsville District Board of Education, I look forward to attending PTSA meetings in April and the May 4 “Meet the Candidates.”

Below I have outlined my primary reasons for running, my interests going forward for students and my views on a few key topics.

I. My Reasons for Running:

  1. As a tax payer and parent of a future District student, I want to understand the goals, programs and operations of the District and the functions and objectives of the Board.
  2. I aim to help promote the successes and objectives of faculty, staff and administration while understanding the varied challenges they face in an effort to ascertain where I can contribute.
  3. I want to be more involved in the District in these three years leading up to my daughter entering kindergarten and continue to grow as a community leader.

II. My General Interests for Students: 

The areas for academic programs and extracurricular activities that I am passionate about include:

  1. How high school students narrow their college major interests and focus on specific career fields
  2. Inspiring volunteering as a regular activity for all ages that is enjoyable to the extent that even when it’s optional, students are dedicated to fulfilling their pledge to complete the project or time commitment
  3. Achieving an equitable balance of the three types of “smart” – book smart, business smart and street smart
  4. Instilling and reinforcing general financial literacy as soon as feasible
  5. Evaluating electives and determining if a need exists to create new ones
  6. Reinforcing the long-term career and life-enhancing benefits of being fluent in a foreign language
  7. Understanding the broad and different types of management and leadership
  8. Entrepreneurship awareness and the skills and values that accompany successful enterprises

III. My Views on Key Topics:

  1. Board – WTA Relationship: There is the opportunity for a new day on May 16 for three new Board of Education members. This also means a renewed start for the entire Board this summer. If elected, I will prepare and approach my duties with an open mind, objective lens and fact-based review of all information requiring Board action.
  2. New WTA Union contract: I have no previous attachments to any organizations as a first-time candidate, but I have an open mind and healthy respect for all parties that are involved in running such a successful District. I am committed to reaching the best solutions for the District and all of our stakeholders. I have great respect for teachers. Naturally, a productive, successful negotiation produces two sides that come away feeling pleased, or at least satisfied, and I would be of the mindset that we should all aim for that lofty goal in the next contract discussions.
  3. Classroom size concerns: I am supportive of ensuring our teachers have the most practical and efficient student-to-teacher ratio and class size wherever logistically and financially possible. I would never want to see teachers or staff overworked or stressed out due to too many students or not enough space. No one wants to be set up to fail, and no one should wish that on anyone.
  4. Common Core / Testing: I subscribe to the strengths of teacher autonomy, curriculum flexibility and customized testing. There are so many natural benefits to allowing teachers the latitude to create engaging, enjoyable experiential learning environments. I recall the great teachers I had in Williamsville and Clarence and how book reading and even the occasional movies provided great shared experiences to supplement the essential lesson material.

Running for Williamsville District Board of Education

To my fellow Williamsville Central School District residents,

I am pleased to write that today I submitted my candidate petition to run for the District’s Board of Education!

The election is Tuesday, May 16 from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. at Williamsville North High School.

I look forward to this opportunity to be involved in the school system in which I was a student in elementary school in the ’80s.

After several years living and working in exciting cities like Chicago, Seattle and Phoenix, I returned to Western New York in 2012. While I always visited during the summer and the holidays, I had missed my hometown over the years – 16 in all!

In 2014, I moved back to the District as a homeowner.

I am running for the Board of Education to be proactively involved in the District and our community. I seek to listen and learn from everyone and collaborate with the rest of the Board and District administrators.

Having worked on health and wellness events and spoken at career fairs in the past with schools and colleges in Seattle, Phoenix and Buffalo, I believe in continuing education for all ages and all disciplines. I went back to school in my mid-30s to earn an MBA at Arizona State University during a previous career in Chandler, AZ. I have also completed public relations and marketing certifications in recent years to stay apprised of new technology and industry best practices.

We are fortunate to live in a great town with an exceptional District. Where there are challenges or divisions, I aim to be flexible and maintain a long-term, clear view in evaluating what the best decisions are for the future of our programs, students, teachers and staff.

I am interested in being a positive, patient and productive member of the District as we all continue the long history of academic excellence, extracurricular performance and community involvement.

My daughter will be in kindergarten in three years, and regardless of the outcome of the election, I will be aware of and involved in the District’s programs, events and success as a parent for years to come.

On a personal note, I love running 5K races all over the District and throughout Western New York in any type of weather. I play basketball regularly and enjoy golf and tennis. My favorite places to travel are Ireland, Nantucket, Ithaca, Seattle and Whistler, B.C.

Click here to see published columns I have written about marketing, recreation and life in Western New York.

Thank you for considering me for your vote on May 16!

Happy Spring!

Sláinte! (Gaelic for “cheers/to your health”)




Developing Effective Communications for a PR Department

Naturally, startup companies are often unable to position public relations or internal communications as one of the prominent items on business development’s ever-expanding “punch list.” Even when products and services can thrive on their own value proposition, efficiency or quality, it will not be long before young firms need to acquire the ability to perform several types of communications, including a healthy mix of maintaining external channels and fostering proper internal practices.

If your core competencies or current budget situation will not allow for you and your team to address forthcoming communications objectives and needs, there is no reason to panic about adding another function to your daily responsibilities. Prior to hiring a public relations director, you can still cobble together your own style of communications strategies and tactics by developing an outline of priorities and preparing an informational toolkit about your company.

Part of a startup’s business plan already includes significant marketing and communications elements; they just need to be formalized. You can stretch your current communication capabilities or address potential deficiencies by leveraging strong writers and previous public relations experience that may be present on the leadership team or your staff to compile the following plans and resources:

I. Communications Planning and Strategic Materials

  • Communications goals for business plan over next two years
    • Media relations objectives
    • Branding opportunities
    • Social media measurement considerations
  • Establish plan for earmarking future budget and resources for creating a communications department; build a staffing model that best suits your business relationships with stakeholders and priorities for articulating and supplementing your company’s brand
    • Outline primary responsibilities
    • Define reporting structure
    • Create protocol for public information and media requests
  • Issues management response protocol
    • Audit of crisis or issue situation to include the following:
      • How should the company respond to difficult issues or emergencies?
      • What are the key messages for the company’s public response?
      • Who is the most suitable spokesperson to address media in timely fashion?

II. Public Information Toolkit:

  • Company history and timeline of product or service development
  • Overview of product or service brand offering / points of differentiation
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about product or service if necessary
  • Founders and leadership biographies
  • Publish all of the above information components to a functional, organized press room on your website

 III. Internal Information Toolkit:

  • Create branding guidelines and a writing style guide that align with company mission, culture and type of business for internal documents, presentations and memos
  • Establish a protocol for sharing internal announcements, success stories, media coverage, new hires or promotions.
  • Consider developing an intranet set for distributing leadership messages and company news across all levels and locations of the organization.

By building a basic shell of a communication plan for internal and external audiences and aggregating essential company information, your leadership and administration team will be equipped to respond to growing interest in your company from the customers, the community and local, national or trade media outlets. Selecting one leader as the ideal spokesperson and delegating an organized, versatile associate person to moonlight as the public information liaison despite not being versed in the traditional sense can go a long way toward cementing your brand and quality of communications as you devote your attention to elevating your brand.

Anything Noteworthy About Your Note-Taking Process?

When you attend meetings with co-workers, vendors or clients, how do you capture the highlights, takeaways and action items? What is your signature process that works for you so you don’t forget to do something for your boss, colleague or [potential] client?

I tend to be very project-oriented and make checklists all the time. I occasionally wonder what other methods public relations adhere to in staying ulta-organized and keep everything together – the strategy, the needed tactics and all the logistical minutiae that can come with project management, delegation, execution and evaluation.

What are the core purposes of taking notes? I think we can mostly agree that the reasons generally fall into the following four areas:

  1. Stay engaged in the proceedings while participating in the dialogue
  2. Capture what needs to be done down the road by you and others
  3. Deliver meeting minutes to participating parties to abide by reason #2.
  4. If none of the above three principles apply directly, then it may come down to a simple matter of appearing officious or productive for a little showmanship

Some people like to use a portfolio folder or a journal with personal or artistic flair. Whatever works for you, right? Generally, I prefer the classic black portfolio notepad when venturing out of the office for professional association luncheons, seminars and conferences.

A few years ago. I embraced a new method for my scribbling madness. I was in Barnes and Noble when I stumbled upon the stationery section and found to my delight a extra-large, hard-cover sketch book without lines. I was hooked! I’m not really sure why, but I was drawn to a pad without lines. Perhaps this is because my handwriting is rather erratic, some would say poor, and I could get away with not staying within the arbitrarily-set boundaries of a notepad manufacturer.

The giant sketchpad book worked great for the most part. I took it to every meeting and each page was clearly dated in the upper-left corner, so there was no danger of action items getting lost or out of sequence from when they were discussed.

After two years with the sketch pad, I lost the interest and went back to boring office-issued note pads just because they were easy to grab from the office suply room. Now I resort to recording highlights of meetings in the right column on the agendas. Clearly, this works well whenever agendas are provided, so instead of my handy comprehensive sketchbook filled with notes, projects to experiment with and regular assignments, I was left with a growing stack of lists that could fall out of order.

If checklists are our efficient, mostly concise way of tracking accomplishments and matching them back with the original setting of the goals, then meeting notes are the functional necessities and the projects to ponder that keep you motivated to bring everything together and keep your process productive as you go about tackling all of the daily to-do lists.

Whatever note-taking process works well to keep you organized, keep at it, or take a step back and try a new format or style. Some might think my notes are actually a brand of reporter short-hand, but alas, no, that is my normal script!

Discovering the Virtues of Volunteering

The reasons for volunteering are mostly personal, but generally the time, treasures and talent contributions can yield benefits in the following areas:

  1. Helping an organization or cause one believes in and/or has been affected by in their lives or within their families.
  2. Expanding one’s professional and/or personal social network in a community.
  3. Fulfilling a requirement for a leadership development program.

Just as the motivations can vary for allocating one’s time for pro bono efforts, the types of volunteering are more than we might realize at times. Similar to the spectrum of nonprofit organizations, volunteering activities and roles can take on many shapes while constituting a valued portion of an organization’s fundraising, event management, educational programs or health issues awareness initiatives.

  • Personal activities – Volunteering at a church, school, environmental association or arts organization.
  • Professional activities – Mentoring students in a career field, serving as a judge for award panels for local professional associations or rating candidates for continuing education certifications.
  • Social activities – Expanding one’s network by serving as a greeter, usher or gate monitor at a fundraiser, race, grand opening or social extravaganza.

If you find yourself in a volunteer duty that isn’t particularly prominent or exciting, you can still absorb a lot of interesting practical knowledge on logistics and efficiencies from people working security, delivering ice and staffing an entrance. When assigned a role such as checking people’s tickets or VIP passes and it sounds like a tedious assignment, embrace the opportunity that you will be speaking and seeing everyone who enters that area. This could lead to meeting business leaders, mentors or just some new contacts in different industries of your community.

After these experiences, some of which were boring and solitary at times depending on the time and location, I felt some personal satisfaction having turned out,  met some new people and offered my assistance as a “utility fielder” wherever needed.

At some events that I signed up for and showed up on time, they haven’t always been ready or fully organized in delegating the assignments. While these instances happen and can be frustrating for someone who keeps a punctual schedule, I always offer this up to the organizer, “Look, you have me for the next four hours, so please just let me know what you need and I’ll get it done.”

Whether you want to congregate at the front of a festival beer tent as a social butterfly or you don’t mind grabbing a clipboard, hammer or two-way radio, consider the merits that different volunteering situations may present for yourself. You don’t have to just stand there to get that free T-shirt or earn those points for a project or certification, be gregarious and get your hands dirty if necessary.