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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
School

Palo Alto Unified School DistrictCandidate for Board Member

Photo of Melissa Baten Caswell

Melissa Baten Caswell

Incumbent
13,556 votes (18.67%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Provide teaching and learning opportunities that maximize engagement, learning and the socio-emotional health of every student
  • Attracting, supporting and retaining excellent teachers in the face of a growing teacher shortage
  • improve and revamp underlying systems to use school and community funds more efficently

Experience

Experience

Profession:Current Trustee and Two-time Board President, Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education
President, Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education — Elected position (2015–2015)
Vice President, Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education — Elected position (2014–2014)
President, Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education — Elected position (2011–2011)
Vice President, Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education — Elected position (2010–2010)
President, Palo Alto Council of PTAs — Elected position (2005–2007)

Education

Amos Tuck School, Dartmouth College Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.), business (1990)
Dartmouth College Bachelor of Arts (A.B.), psychology, economics (1986)

Biography

Hello! I'm Melissa Baten Caswell, current PAUSD School Board Trustee, two-time Board President, and experienced community leader. I hope you'll support my reelection campaign.

 

I was born and raised in White Plains, New York. I have a AB and MBA from Dartmouth College. I spent 16+ years as an executive in finance, management, marketing and strategy; first on Wall Street and then in Silicon Valley high tech firms. My husband Lee Caswell, also a business executive, and I moved to Palo Alto in 1990. We have two children: Lainie, age 21, and Cas, age 17 and we have had children in PAUSD schools for all of the past 16 years. We love this town and I am looking forward to extending my deep, longstanding commitment to it.

 

My civic contributions include:

 

1. PAUSD Board Committees:

  • Board Policy Review
  • School/City Committee
  • Stanford University/School Committee
  • Los Altos Hills Town Council/PAUSD School Liaison
  • Regional Housing Mandate Committee Liaison
  • Partners in Education Liaison
  • California Association of Large Suburban School Districts
  • Schools for Strong Finance consortium
  • Regional Occupational Program Policy Council
  • The Palo Alto City Housing Element TAG

 

2. Palo Alto Volunteer Service:

  • President, Palo Alto PTA Council, 2005-07
  • Executive Vice President, Palo Alto PTA Council
  • President, Secretary, and Parliamentarian, Duveneck Elementary School PTA
  • Founding Board Member and Vice Chair, Youth Community Service
  • Board member and Campaign Cabinet, Palo Alto Art Center Foundation
  • BizWorld Instructor
  • Junior Great Books Instructor
  • Meet the Masters Instructor
  • Member, Two Mayoral Task Forces
  • Ambassador, Family Resources
  • Leader, award-winning Hurricane Katrina relief program
  • Parent Advisory Board, Downtown Children's Center Preschool
  • Troop Leader, Girl Scouts
  • Parent volunteer, AYSO, CYSA, YMCA, and Little League teams
  • Lice Checker, Duveneck Elementary School

 

3. Relevant Awards:

  • PTA Council Continuing Service Award, 2009
  • Duveneck PTA Golden Oak Award, 2010

 

Community Leadership:

 

I have been honored to serve as a PTA leader in six different elected offices, including Presidency of the PTA Council for two years, during which I spearheaded an award-winning "Bridge of Caring" relief program for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. I was Vice Chair and a Founding Board member for Youth Community Service, I am a board member of the Palo Alto Art Center, an have been a member of two mayoral task forces. I have also been a Girl Scout troop leader, classroom volunteer, team helper on AYSO, CYSA, and Little League teams, and even a volunteer lice checker at Duveneck Elementary school!

 

Because of my commitment to teamwork, I have worked constantly as your School Board Trustee to build effective partnerships among all stakeholders in PAUSD. Whether deciding on strategic plan processes, curriculum, programs, or on bond money oversight, I have always listened fully and openly to all points of view, and examined the data, to make fair-minded, respectful decisions.

 

After nine years, these rich and respectful conversations have deepened my understanding of our schools and our community. I understand how our District works, and am committed to pursue continual improvement and supporting every child. You can count on me to continue my record of active listening and practical decision making, while extending the partnerships and educational program innovations that are making a difference.

 

Business Experience:

 

I hold AB and MBA degrees from Dartmouth and spent 16+ years in the business world. I began my career on Wall Street. Then after completing my MBA and moving to the Bay Area, I served as a manager in educational marketing at Apple and Sun. In subsequent positions at other companies, I gained more responsibilities and seniority and honed my skills in finance, management, and strategy on matters such as distance learning, chip design, artificial intelligence, Internet commerce, and mergers and acquisitions. When I stepped out of the business world for a bit to focus on family and community, I had been serving as a corporate officer at Calico Commerce, a publicly-traded software company. I am currently the CEO and founder of CollegeMojo a software company that provides project management software to help students with the college application process

 

While there are differences between business and education, my experience as your trustee has shown me clearly that great schools cannot be sustained without the highest standards of fiscal stewardship. In my years of corporate management, I also learned firsthand that good ideas are the easy part; the challenge is effective implementation. The latter requires skill, judgment, and above all, a consistent vision, and an understanding of what drives individuals in an organization.

 

I began my term in 2008 by using my network of connections to secure pro bono assistance from a major consulting firm to develop a landmark Strategic Plan for PAUSD which provided clear, focused, and measurable goals for our schools… a plan we are still using today. I have also pushed for consistent, careful oversight of the public's bond monies as we moved forward with an ambitious K-12 facilities overhaul. On my watch, extensive upgrades and expansions have been completed at 8 sites on schedule and within budget, and I am committed to keeping it that way.

 

My experience has also taught me the importance of teamwork. In order to move business forward, I had to be able to listen to stakeholders, focus priorities, and work together to accomplish important goals. On our school board, I have worked consistently to hear all stakeholders and to make clear, fair-minded decisions about key issues. I have supported stronger working partnerships between our school district and community officials, and I am committed to extending them over the next four years.

I look forward to being your elected representative to carry on this profoundly important work.

 

 

 

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Hon. Jerry Hill, State Senator, 13th District
  • Hon. Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor
  • Hon. Rich Gordon, State Assemblyman, 21st District

Elected Officials (13)

  • Hon. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator (D-NY)
  • Hon. Liz Kniss, Member and former Mayor, Palo Alto City Council
  • Hon. Camille Townsend, former President and current Member, PAUSD Board of Education
  • Hon. Gary Kremen, former President, and current Member, Santa Clara Water District
  • Hon. Marc Berman, Palo Alto City Council
  • Hon. Nancy Newkirk, former President and Member, Sunnyvale SD Board of Education
  • Hon. Reid Myers, President, SCCSBA; Member and former President, Sunnyvale SD Board of Education
  • Hon. Bruce Swensen, Trustee, Foothill-De Anza Community College District
  • Hon. Heidi Emberling, Board President, PAUSD Board of Education
  • Hon. Ellen Wheeler, Member, Mountain View Whisman Board of Education
  • Hon. Eric Filseth, Member, Palo Alto City Council
  • Hon. Cory Wolbach, Member, Palo Alto City Council
  • Hon. Shelly Masur, Redwood City Council, former Member RCSD Board of Education

Candidate Contact Info

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