Starting out as a reporter for my college newspaper, I have always valued the First Amendment and the power of public information. My belief in the power of information only grew as I embarked on my 20-year career as a journalist, which allowed me to work for news organizations across the U.S., eventually leading me back to my New York roots. For the past three years, I have worked at a risk-management consulting startup that helps organizations foresee, avoid and manage various types of risks, from legal and compliance, to safety and security, from cybersecurity to corporate governance. (See my LinkedIn profile here.) I hadn’t thought it possible, but in that time, my belief in transparency, quality data and dialogue has only grown.
If elected, I would make every effort to improve the South Orange-Maplewood School District’s transparency. With a proposal to create a new $35,000 website for the website, it is critically important that the district address issues of cybersecurity, privacy, accessibility and user experience (UX). As part of the teams that relaunched websites at for WWD.com and Bank Street College of Education, I was deeply involved in helping to shape the online content organization, presentation and tone, as well as its management, and I can help SOMSD attain the world-class information portal that our media-wise, tech-savvy students and parents deserve — while also embodying the values of our village-and-township community.
In order to reflect the quantum leaps in how our society — and our children — communicate, it is also important to craft a multi-platform social media strategy to create and support a sense of community that is proactive and can communicate the district’s message. Parents and students throughout the district would also benefit from a unified district-wide messaging system instead of what is now a patchwork of apps.
Media strategy and strategic communications are also key components for a district that is on the cusp of being, in essence, “relaunched” with the selection of a new superintendent, a proposed restructuring and capital-improvement projects that will likely transform our educational system in our two towns. Our school communities should have, when possible, advance notice of changes that will affect each campus, and parents should receive guidance when our children experience out-of-the-ordinary events, such as maintenance issues or lockdown drills. Although the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education is bound to follow the law with respect to public disclosures, the district must be proactive, not reactive, when transformative, newsworthy or controversial developments arise.