About Colleen

I’m running because I have a background in Educational Policy, I’m passionate about the power of education to change lives, I believe students and faculty deserve leadership which supports equity and inclusion, and I am committed to serving our community.

When I was in middle school, my dad lost his job without any warning. Prior to that we were doing okay, through a lot of strict budgeting, and hand me downs and help from family and neighbors. Fortunately, my family was able to access benefits that would help us keep our heads above water while Dad searched for a new job. One of these benefits was free school lunch. At that time, tickets for free lunch were a different color than paid lunch, and I was in middle school, where all I wanted was to fit in. So, like a lot of kids in that situation, I just didn’t eat lunch. Unfortunately, my plan to fly under the radar didn’t go as planned when one day, the assistant principal came over to my lunch table and very loudly announced that I had a free lunch ticket and I should go use it. I was mortified.

So why am I telling you this? Well, this story has a happy ending. The floor did not open up and swallow me that day. I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with minors in Music and Social Work. After working with high school students and young adults with disabilities for a few years, I went on to grad school to earn a master’s degree in Education, where I studied Special Education, and Educational Policy and Leadership Studies. It was challenging: even with a teaching assistantship, and part-time work, I still needed loans to complete the program. I know firsthand how education can provide a step up for people and their families, which in turn enriches our entire community.

That day in the cafeteria also taught me about the value of equity and inclusion. I am incredibly grateful that my family had access to benefits that would help us maintain a measure of economic stability. Our public school provided consistency and even meals for my siblings and me. I am also very happy to know that schools have since recognized that providing low-income kids with a hot lunch could be made even better by making all lunch tickets look the same. This experience, along with experiences I had teaching, eventually led to the focus of my graduate studies being on the intersection of race, class, and gender with education. Public schools are incredible resources and can be made better for everyone when they are fully committed to supporting all students and other members of the school community.

I was also raised with the value of giving back to my community. One of my earliest memories is of my parents taking us to volunteer in our local food pantry. During grad school, I tutored English to adult immigrants in the nearby meatpacking town, tutored student-athletes, was a Girl Scout leader to a troop of middle school daughters of immigrants, and tutored elementary students who had been identified as “at-risk.” Since moving to Johnson County, I have volunteered on several PTA committees at our children’s school, as well as with Girl Scouts, BSA, Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America, and several local political organizations.

I took a break from teaching to focus on our family, but with our youngest becoming more independent, I’ve been looking at what more I can do to give back to the community. When I was approached to run for the Board of Trustees, I spent a lot of time considering whether this is the right fit for me at this time. What I came to realize is that my personal background and educational accomplishments provide me with a unique perspective, which I believe would be an asset to the Board of Trustees.