Jen's story ...
Jen has lived in Columbia with her husband, Ted, for more than 25 years. They have three children-- one in college, one who just graduated from the University of Maryland, and one still attending Wilde Lake High School.
Jen has been a community advocate, leader, and problem solver in the field of education since her kids began preschool. For nearly 20 years, Jen has worked with classrooms and schools while her kids attended Swansfield ES, Harper's Choice MS, and Wilde Lake HS.
Jen recently finished two years as the elected chairperson of HCPSS's Community Advisory Council. See below for more details about Jen's advocacy.
Jen is also an avid photographer, voracious reader, and amateur hiker.
A little more detail...
The olden days
Jen first began her career as a language analyst co-op working for the Department of Defense (DoD) when she was in college at Wittenberg University. Jen's bachelor's degree is in Economics and East Asian Studies. She continued her employment after undergrad with the DoD while completing her master's degree at George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs in East Asian Studies. Jen also taught an area studies course at the National Cryptologic School while working for the DoD.
Jen left the government to dive firsthand into parenting, but it was not long before she rediscovered the drive to get involved in her community. First, she served as President of Moms Club of Columbia and then to better meet the local needs of the community, co-founded a support organization for stay at home parents in Howard County.
Next, Jen served in a variety of leadership roles at East Columbia Preschool, eventually becoming its President and primary administrator.
Little known fact: Jen studied Mandarin Chinese starting in high school and continued throughout both undergraduate and graduate school
PTAs and Boosters
Jen jumped into volunteering at Swansfield Elementary School with both feet. She spearheaded efforts to expand access and participation in the science fair. Jen served as:
- PTA President and Secretary,
- Cultural arts coordinator,
- Grant writer,
- Carson Reading Room grant and project manager, coordinator
- Coordinator to catalog, organize, and design a guided-level book room while helping to mentor a Gold Scout Gold Awardee,
- Project manager for various cultural arts grants, primarily focused on Literature
Jen is incredibly proud of bringing Matt de la Pena, a Newberry award winner, to Harpers Choice Middle School so that students could hear and work with a successful Hispanic author. Jen has also served with the Harpers Choice PTA, the Wilde Lake High School (WLHS) Boosters Casino Night Committee, WLHS PTSA, and assisted the WLHS Orchestra, First Robotics Team, Girls Soccer, Men's Wrestling, and Tennis.
Little known fact: In the first year of the reading room spearheaded by Jen, students earned over 1,500 visits to the room to read for fun, read more than a half of a million minutes to earn time in the room and volunteers put in more than 350 hours staffing the room.
Community Advisory Council (CAC)
Jen has served as the chairperson of HCPSS's Community Advisory Council (CAC) for two years and as vice chairperson for two years. The CAC is the liaison between the Board of Education and community. We provide feedback, input, and community voice to the BOE.
During this time Jen served on HCPSS Policy Review Committees for School Attendance Areas, Field Trips, International Student Travel, Responsible Use of Technology, School Sponsored Publications and Productions, and the HCPSS Indoor Environment Quality Initiative.
Jen delivered both written and spoken testimony to the Board of Education at more than 30 public hearings and 20 regular CAC testimonies to the Board. She routinely researched state and federal law to support CAC recommendations and provide critical information to the Board. Jen worked hard to build consensus and develop a strong collaborative relationship with members of the HCPSS administration and Board.
Little known fact: Jen represented the CAC and community interests at the US Department of Education conference "Diversity in Action".
What can you do next?
You can volunteer, donate, and vote in June 26th primary