I grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania with parents who demonstrated civic responsibility every day. My father was a local attorney with a lifelong commitment to economic and social opportunity. My mother was a social worker and housing advocate who showed my sisters and me what it meant to be independent and involved at a time when too many young women were receiving a different message about our role in the world.
By the time I was eighteen they had both passed away, and I found myself raising my two younger sisters. The power of community and our obligations to each other really hit home as I went to college, worked, and raised the girls with the help of family, friends, and Social Security. My first job out of college after earning my Ed.D. was as a math teacher in rural Appalachia. Those years made an indelible impression on me about the power of public education and our obligation to nurture the best in every child.
Those lessons never left me, and I’ve spent my career working to build strong public and educational organizations, first as a faculty member at the University of Rhode Island, then as director of a seven state non-profit education consortium, and for the past 31 years at the UMass Donahue Institute.
Along the way I took a deeper dive into understanding how strong public institutions work by enrolling in the mid-career MPA program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. That experience — and the lifelong relationships I formed — continue to inspire me toward positive public service.
That’s also where I met my husband of 25 years, Bryan Harvey, who served on Amherst’s Finance Committee and Selectboard, making local government part of our daily diet.
I have no illusions about the challenges this first group of thirteen will face. There are divisions to be healed, long-standing issues to be tackled, and the unique task of figuring a lot of things out for the first time. But the qualities I can contribute to this next step for our community are important: hard work, a practical sense of problem-solving, and a real fondness for the community Bryan, Sasha and I have made home.
I love a challenge, especially in a good cause. And being part of a successful transition for our town is a very good cause.