I began my career as a classroom teacher. I learned how critical it was to provide students with experiences that supported their social and emotional well-being, interests, passions, and strengths in addition to core academic content. And I learned as a teacher just how hard it was to do this for each one of my 33 kids, whether that was doing home visits and getting to know my kids' families, keeping my classroom doors open to my students in the afternoon so they had someplace to be, or building relationships in the neighborhood so that our kids knew folks were looking out for them as they walked home.
Being an educator is about much more than what happens in the classroom.
I am the daughter of two Tanzanian-Indian immigrants who came to the US in 1975. I was born in Newark, NJ but spent my early years being raised by family in Tanzania while my parents stabilized their lives in the US. I attended public schools as an English language learner. I was fortunate enough to have parents who encouraged me to pursue my interests and opportunities to engage in relevant, real-world learning. As a result I was the first in my family to complete college and go on to graduate school.
I met my husband, Chris, and we have been married for 22 years. It's our privilege to be raising two sons, ages sixteen and fourteen. When Chris and I moved to Denver to raise our family, Denver Public Schools was a significant draw and has been a major part of our family for our sons’ education.
Since leaving the classroom, the question that has driven my career choices has been: How can we design schools and educational systems that provide the experiences young people need to thrive as people, citizens, and workers?
My academic background includes a focus on neuroscience and human development, and I have spent thousands of hours with students and educators in schools that are building programs that reflect what we know about both. As a lawyer, I also focused on understanding the legal and policy systems surrounding education, among them housing and labor law, local government law, and social welfare systems. I have been able to work with clients through child advocacy, immigration, and prison legal assistance clinics, law firms, and state and federal government.
My career has included redesigning an educator preparation program to support teachers in building the skills they need to support academic excellence and whole-child wellness, building coalitions that include educators, families, community advocates, and business/civic leaders to advocate for education transformation, and working with schools and districts to redesign themselves in ways that empower leaders, educators, and communities.
I am running for Denver School Board because this is a critical moment for board leadership that will enable Denver to unite as a community - students, educators, families, non-profit, business, and civic leaders. We must re-center our efforts around what young people need to be healthy. We have to ask them and ourselves what they need to navigate a world and prepare to enter a workforce that looks nothing like the one most adults have experienced.
As a mother, this is what I want for my sons.
I am committed to working with you to build it for all children.
I have worked nationally and internationally with educators, schools, districts, and larger systems. My work has focused on helping to build educational experiences for young people that help them develop academic skills and a sense of their identity, talents, and passions.
As DPS faces a moment of declining enrollment, workforce shortages, and new demands on the system, we have an opportunity to redesign schools to ensure every child gets the individualized attention they need to flourish. As the next at-large school board member, I will work to partner with businesses and civic institutions to provide students from kindergarten through high school the opportunity to learn about career pathways and explore extra-curricular opportunities.
I know we can make Denver a national leader by providing for the direct needs of Denver's students. I know what young people need for healthy development; I have studied it and worked with some of our nation's leaders on new pathways for education. I want to bring my knowledge and skills to the school board so that we can redefine equity by providing all students with the unique educational experiences often available only to some families.
As a DPS Board member, I look forward to working with my colleagues and our broader community - including students, families, educators, business leaders, and out-of-school time providers - to build a shared vision for the education we want all of our children to have in this district. I will also ensure that we hold ourselves and district leadership accountable for bringing this vision to life. I bring two decades of experience not only in education but specifically with schools and systems that have been working to transform education.
I know we can do better for our children. I'm running to bring what I have learned during my career to serve them and our community better.
1177 Newport St
Denver, CO 80220