District Two Candidates for Seattle School Board

Since yesterday, five of the 16 candidates have withdrawn. Let's look at the rest of the applicants. Since there are so many, I will pick out the ones to go in-depth about that I think are the most likely final candidates. Those who I believe are not ready for this role will be at the end of the post.

Carol Thompsondistrict link

Thompson is/has been a research scientist (with a PhD in Biochemistry), program manager and technology manager. She has worked at the Allen Institute for Brain Science for 20 years. She worked to help "girls seeking careers in STEM through the Association for Women in Science" as well as managing youth sports.

She grew up poor with a single parent. She identifies as a "non-white" person but I am unsure of that part of her background.

She lives in Greenwood/Phinney. She and her husband have two SPS students. She says this about that area:

Pre-covid, District 2’s enrollment in public schools surged, particularly in the Ballard/Greenwood area, as families like mine came for the job opportunities and stayed for the community. Post covid, public school enrollment is down, but many families remain, although they may have left the public school system. I believe we need to make a commitment to make the public schools an attractive option for all families, otherwise it becomes an inequitable solution for those that can’t afford private school.

Selected comments

Providing our students with the educational supports they need shouldn’t rely on having an English-speaking, well educated parent with ample time to navigate the systems needed to establish IEPs and get whatever help is needed. It troubles me to witness instances where our school district’s application processes to certain programs require a parent essay; placing an undue burden on underserved kids whose parents may lack the language, time, or resources to navigate these requirements.

Effective governance starts with listening to our community, even when the feedback is challenging. Whether the concerns reflect on the school district or uncover our own blindspots, the key is to seek out the best ideas and integrate them into an improvement plan.

On working with Board members:

Finally, I recognize that different people have different styles, and I would like to learn how my fellow Board directors like to work. As for myself, my style may be described as pragmatic, and although I gravitate to the neat and tidy solution, I understand that real-world solutions may be messy. I am confident that I could develop respectful relationships with board members, so that we can collaborate on solutions, and celebrate the shared accomplishments.

She has quite a few things to say about the Board's goals. I urge you to read that section.  


Sarah Clark  - district link

Clark lives in the Crown Hill neighborhood and is a graduate of Garfield High School. She has lived in that area for nearly her entire life. She does not state if she does or does not have children. I would assume not. She also states that she's a person of color but I am uncertain what that means in her case.

She admits to some rough years in her 20s with mental issues but came back at 28 to work to receive her Bachelor's and Master's at UW in four years. It's a pretty compelling personal story to tell especially to young people. 

She is currently the Director of Policy for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

I am a policy and advocacy professional with extensive experience working effectively within diverse communities, organizations, across systems to promote equity and social justice, undo systemic racism and address inequities within education, child welfare, tax and revenue, housing stability and civic engagement.

She has several equity trainings for professional development that show her commitment to that issue. 

She, too, like a couple of other candidates, wants to reach out to families via office hours, school events, Zoom, social media and email. I'm not sure that she realizes how much that is to take on but it's better than most of the current Board.

She says this:

I have a very good understanding for the roles and responsibilities of a School Board Director, and the role of the Seattle School Board from my education and experience working in policy/advocacy in education.

Does she? Because SPS is a place with a major learning curve. And, when I see people who apply for these open Board positions who I (and other activists) have never seen at a Board meeting, then I have to wonder. 

Her application has the most grammar and typos of any I read through. Does this matter? It doesn't in terms of doing the work but it matters when you are trying to put your best foot forward to the public.  


Eric Feeny - district link 

He has children at Cascadia Elementary and has served on its board.  He appears to be white but didn't have any statement about that part of his background.

His education at Stanford was in Mechanical Engineering and he has worked at tech companies and started a couple of businesses of his own. He now does consulting.  

Fenny, like Song, also applied for the empty Seattle City Council seat. 

Feeny is the only candidate to mention going to school board meetings. Naturally, for me, that counts for something. But he is also endearingly honest and somewhat naive. I love this idea about Board meetings:

I would love to see 30 minutes for mingling. I would come with a clip board and collect the name and email of a leader from each interest group. I would help them to keep the dialog open and strategize what a win looks like and help to communicate between them and the district (super).

He has a long story about the PTA and fundraising at Cascadia which I found interesting.

I’m a process optimizer. I like to analyze all the moving pieces and learn how things work, and what can be tweaked or rebuilt to make things work better. I’ve been trained for and have extensive practice in negotiating agreements between different parties. My favorite technique is called getting off the line of conflict. Often disagreements or inability to find a resolution appears to come down to a binary conflict. I want more of X, you can’t have more of X. But most times when you step back and investigate what is important to people and what the options are, there are solutions that sidestep the original disagreement about X entirely. Sometimes these elements are referred to as elegant negotiables, but I just think of it as creative problem solving. 

I also liked his last statement about the Board policy around racial equity. He's a thinker for sure.  


Ramona Hattendorf - district link 

Hattendorf had two children go through Seattle Public schools and lives in Magnolia. 

Hattendorf has been a part of the district landscape for a very long time. Like Laura Marie Rivera over in D4, she knows this district well. She was Seattle Council PTSA president and "then worked as the policy and government relations lead for the state PTA."

When I first shifted from parent activism into working on policy, I dove into things like social and emotional learning, multi-tiered systems of support, and competency-based education. I served on state committees for early learning, career and technical education, and teacher and principal evaluations. I helped pass legislation to redefine basic education, notify parents when restraint and isolation was used.

She is currently the director of Public Policy & Civic Engagement at The Arc of King County.

I promote and protect the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). 

Policy and Government Instructor, Parent Leadership Training Institute, a partnership of the WA Family Engagement Trust and Everett Community College. Duties: Helped pilot the Washington arm of this national program supporting parents’ leadership development and civic involvement. Graduates are highly diverse – with many immigrants from South American and Africa.

She seems to have the most clear ideas about what the role of the board director/Board is. 

I really liked this blunt comment:

In my experience, people spend a lot of time voicing that there is a problem and trying to get others to agree something needs to be done. Then they rush preparation and they fail to get buy-in. This is where communication, trust, and partnership are essential, not just within the decision-making group, but with the partners that group is going to rely on to make the change.  

This blunt one as well:

Inclusive education is my top priority. As a resident of Seattle, I am deeply saddened that my local school district does not have a presence in the work underway across the state. I worry about the message this sends to families, and the especially the students. I worry that staff and families don’t understand the research behind inclusive practices. Or the legal foundation for inclusion. 


Unlikely to be selected for the Final Stage of Selection

In making these picks, what I see is either someone who does not know the district well, is just not ready, and/or appears unqualified for the job. 

Jonathan Hendrix

Kelly Lusnia 

Gina Griffiths 

Jayne Garcia 

Danielle Gahl

Janai Ray 

Shawn Sullivan


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