Nov 3 2011

Andrea Swenson Announces Candidacy for School Board

The following announcement was sent to PCA on November 2, 2011:

Whenever I am asked where I live and I say Piedmont, the response is always along the lines of “oh yes, good schools”. Some communities are defined by their location, or their landmarks, or even their restaurants, but Piedmont is defined in its most essential and enduring sense by its schools– by the children who attend them, by the teachers who instill in these children a love of learning, by the parents who contribute their time and resources to make the classroom experience extraordinary, and by the Piedmont community that supports these schools. In a small town like Piedmont, our schools are the heart of the community.

Before Piedmont, my perspectives and capabilities were crafted through a childhood outside New York City and while securing a degree in Humanities from Barnard College at Columbia University.  After Barnard, I spent 15 years in the foreign exchange and fixed income areas of Bank of America and Lehman Brothers, experiences that helped develop a structured and analytical way of thinking along with the interpersonal skills required to deal with the complex, and frequently competing needs of traders, sellers and customers.

· For the past 15 years I have been a volunteer in our Piedmont schools. I have worked along many many talented parent and community volunteers, and understand how important this culture of volunteerism is to the strength of our schools. As a fundraiser, I also understand how critical our fundraising dollars are to our  schools. We would not be able to offer the rich educational experience that we do without the financial support from the Piedmont parents and the Piedmont community through their donations, and even more importantly, through the School Parcel Tax.

I am proud to be part of a Piedmont community that values education, that values our teachers, and wants to assure that they are fairly paid, that values offering our students an educational experience that prepares them to be strong members of our society and, frequently, allows them to get into the finest colleges and universities in this country. In these difficult budget times we have to work even harder to assure this educational experience. We need to think about new ways to deliver a quality education and be creative about doing more with less. We need to be strategic about positioning our Piedmont schools not just for the next few years,  but for the next 10-20 years. We have some difficult decisions.  How do we better integrate technology into the classroom? How do we adequately develop, access, and retain great teachers?  How do we teach our students to become better communicators?  Tough times are actually an opportunity to think about what is really important and how we can best position ourselves for the future. I hope to be part of that conversation and thank you for your support over the past 15 years and in the future.

Andrea Swenson

3 Responses to “Andrea Swenson Announces Candidacy for School Board”

  1. Dear PCA Board,
    As the Music Assistant for the Piedmont Unified School District and as a long time volunteer
    with the Piedmont Choirs, including 6 years on their board, I have had the pleasure of getting to know and work with Andrea Swenson. I met her through our love of music and after all these
    years I now consider her a friend. So when she decided to run for school board, I was just
    thrilled; positively giddy!!!!

    Because of my District job, I have the honor of meeting and connecting with many parents, but
    from the minute I met Andrea I knew she was special. My initial impression was that she was
    really smart, but also levelheaded; and that she was willing to volunteer to help me with anything I needed – no job was too small or too insignificant. But what separated her from others was the fact that she was able to look at an issue objectively! She had children in the music program at the high school, but when I asked for her opinion on some issue with her answers were never personally related to what was best for her children; it was always what was best for the program.

    For the 2010-2011 school year, she was persuaded to take over the Presidency of CHIME, the
    parent support group for music in the District. Her son was a senior in high school and would
    soon graduate, so I knew that she did this out of her focus on students and her interest in music. Again, I was thrilled! I knew that she would approach “all things CHIME” from an objective point of view and bring her thoughtful, intelligent opinions to the job. And from my perspective as the one person in the district involved in all areas of music, she did just that!

    Andrea’s involvement in music is only a small part of the enormous time and energy she has
    given to this District over the last 15 years. Her resume speaks for itself and I need not review it here. What it says though, is that she passionately cares about this school district and its children. She not only “talks the talk”, but she “walks the walk”. There are few people who are willing to do that, very few! We, as a community, need her on this school board. Our schools will be better if she is elected!!!

    Jan D’Annunzio

    PCA Editor,
    I serve on the Piedmont Educational Foundation with Andrea Swenson. Andrea is a leader who
    works tirelessly to make sure Piedmont delivers the best possible educational program to meet
    the needs of all the children in the district. Andrea is unremitting in her efforts to find creative alternatives to support innovative teaching programs rather than surrender to current economic challenges.
    I encourage Piedmonters to join me in the fight to preserve excellence in Piedmont Schools and help elect Andrea Swenson to our School Board on February 7, 2012.

    Thank You,
    Matt Heafey 20 year Piedmont resident

    PCA Editor:
    My name is Amy Rood McKenzie. I am a graduate of the Piedmont schools. In 2001, my
    husband and I settled in Piedmont. We have two young boys. Scott is a 2nd grader at Beach. I
    have known Andrea Swenson through Piedmont Choirs and Piedmont High School Acapella
    since 2001. Last year, we were on the CHIME board together. It was my first year on a support
    club board and Andrea served as president. The thing I most appreciated about having Andrea
    as president was how focused and on task she always was. She didn’t let us stray from our
    goals of the meeting. She was always prepared and informed. She helped the group figure out
    what we wanted to do in a neat and timely manner without pushing her own agenda. Andrea is
    approachable and no nonsense, a unique combination. As a mother of young children, I love the
    thought of having Andrea on the School Board. I’ve watched Andrea’s involvement in her own
    children’s lives and I feel confident putting my own children’s educational future in her hands.
    Please review and then please join Tom and me and my parents,
    Lorie and Jim Rood, in voting for Andrea Swenson on February 7th.
    Thank You,
    Amy Rood MacKenzie
    Dear Editor,
    For many years, as an employee for PUSD, I had the opportunity to work closely with Andrea
    Swenson. When Andrea decided to run for the School Board I was delighted. I am hoping PCA
    readers will take a minute to visit Andrea’s website http:/
    After reviewing Andrea’s long list of accomplishments, I hope they will choose to add their
    names next to mine endorsing her candidacy.

    I have never been involved in any campaign and now feel strongly that this is a very special
    candidate, a woman who is fair, caring, bright and knowledgeable who could positively influence the education of all kids in the district. She is fiscally responsible, is able to listen actively and make well informed decisions. Working in education in the state of California is a challenge. We need individuals who are dedicated and tireless on the school board and Andrea is thatwoman. Together, our support will make a difference!

    Thanks you!
    Brooke Zimmerman
    As a former principal of Piedmont Middle School, I know first-hand that understanding how
    things work and knowing how to get things done are fundamental characteristics for effective
    I support Andrea Swenson for School Board because Andrea has 15 years of proven experience
    working in Piedmont schools. Andrea understands that collaboration among parents, teachers,
    administrators and community members results in enduring positive impacts on K-12 education.

    Carol King, PMS Principal 2001-2006

  2. Letter to the Editor:

    Vote – Andrea Swenson for School Board

    As we head towards election day in February and reflect on which candidate is best equipped to help forge a strong and excellent educational future for our children, Andrea Swenson is the person for the job.

    I have had the privilege of working with Andrea on many projects during the last 13 years and her contributions to our school district and community are unrivaled. Andrea has the foresight to recognize the need for change, the ability to implement it, and the wisdom to acknowledge that change takes time and needs thoughtful processes in place to maximize success.

    Andrea is able to roll up her sleeves and approach a problem from the ground up. Her efforts in revamping the Giving Campaign three years ago laid the groundwork for the campaign to expand its ability to successfully raise funds for our schools. Andrea’s involvement in almost every major fundraising project starting with elementary tri-school fundraisers and progressing to the Giving Campaign, PEF, APCP, JOC, BAC, Parcel Tax Campaigns, as well her leadership positions in the Wildwood Parents Club, PMS Parents Club, PHS Parents Club and CHIME, has provided her with a deep understanding and expertise of not only the state of education in California, but also the uniquely collaborative relationship between our community and our school district.

    Andrea has demonstrated an exceptional ability to work with all stakeholders in our educational community that will allow her to “hit the ground” running. With the economic uncertainties that remain a “steady state” in California, I am confident that Andrea’s transition to the school board will be seamless and that her service on the Board will be extraordinary. Come February 7th, she will have my vote. Please join me and vote for Andrea Swenson for school board.

    All good things,

    dane copeland

  3. Leadership + Real Experience = Andrea for School Board

    Campaign season is the time when candidates burnish their records – claiming this, that and the other good deed and lofty vision. Sorting the reality from the overstated is the challenge of the day.

    Aside from the incumbent who has a four-year tenure of action to back up his talk, Andrea Swenson is the one candidate for School Board who stands out for a bona fide record of sustained leadership (

    The nature of the community work she has taken on in the past 15 years on is complex and the jobs have often been pressure cookers. Being in a leadership position means balancing competing needs and opinions – managing to hold groups together – and still move forward in the interest of change and innovation. It’s a deft balancing act and it doesn’t happen because you stand at a podium proclaim it should be thus, as some are wont to do. Andrea’s accomplishments are the tangible result of hard work, an intuitive capacity for collaboration, and her unparalleled pragmatism.

    Andrea has stood at the helm during horrific budget cuts of the last few years, helping parent clubs to manage budgets conservatively but ensuring our schools receive needed support. During her tenure as PHS Parent Club President, Andrea took the heat from vocal opposition to the establishment of the Wellness Center, which has since become an essential part of the PHS culture. As Giving Campaign Chair, Andrea withstood pressure from doubters who worried that combining the school fundraising efforts would torpedo their profitability. She ultimately brought both campaigns under one roof making both more collaborative and profitable.

    During her tenure as fundraising chair, Andrea also helped to set the stage for last year’s groundbreaking employee concessions – once again taking a tough public stand. Encouraging employees to do their part in sharing the pain of the budget cuts, she firmly pointed out that fundraising, no matter how successful, would not be able to backfill the budget gap created by ballooning healthcare costs. It was a difficult but respectful message and Andrea was unwavering in her faith in the staff and in her belief that they should and would rise to the occasion. They did.

    Cast a vote for Andrea Swenson for School Board. Our students, our schools and our community need real, not imagined, leadership.

    Mary Ireland

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