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Learn about the candidates running for the BVSD Board of Education during a forum hosted by the BVSD District Parent Council, Impact on Education, and the League of Women Voters Boulder County.

The Candidate Forum is a great opportunity to learn about the candidates who are running in each of the four open seats in District A, C, D, and G.

Not sure what district you live in? Click here to view an interactive map.

Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm
Location: BVSD Education Center (6500 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder)

The forum will also be broadcast on BV22 (Comcast Channel 22 and online at bvsd.org/bv22).



  • Neil Fishman

    Email: neil4bvsd@gmail.com

    Neil Fishman was educated in the public schools (K-12; BA/MS, geology, CU), is an award-
    winning research geologist, and is an ardent supporter of public schools. He’s worked for
    decades locally in the social justice arena with non-profits, governments, and BVSD. He played
    a pivotal role in getting gender identity/expression into BVSD’s non-discrimination policy. And
    he was a front-line activist working collaboratively with BVSD and municipalities to get
    progressive social studies standards passed by the CO Board of Education. He has a
    demonstrated record in addressing difficult and complex problems, which will be critical as
    BVSD addresses declining enrollment.

  • Jason Unger

    Email: jasonforbvsd@gmail.com

    Jason Unger is running for BVSD School Board to represent District A. He has spent his life working to improve public education for all kids. He started as a 4th grade teacher in Compton, CA, where he was awarded the 2001 National Elementary Teacher of the Year. Jason worked as a school administrator, and then as the education advisor to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), where he helped pass bills to improve early, K-12, and higher education. Jason and his wife have three children – two at BVSD schools – and another who will be in the district until 2039!

    It is a critical time in education both nationally and here in BVSD with four of the seven seats on the board open, and challenging issues such as declining enrollment and potential budget cuts facing the district. With his experience at all levels of education – as a teacher, a school administrator, as someone who understands federal and state education policy and law, and most importantly, as a parent of kids in BVSD school – Jason is prepared and ready to tackle these tough issues and help make BVSD even better.

    For more information about Jason’s experience and campaign, visit jasonforbvsd.com.


  • Alex Medler

    Email: alex.medler@alexmedler.org
    Website: alexmedler.org

    I moved to Boulder in 1992. My wife and I raised two children who attended Community Montessori, Southern Hills, and Fairview. We were both active in their schools and the district. I have 30 years of experience leading Colorado and national non-profits and governmental entities focused on education and children’s policy. I am committed to public education. My have worked to promoting school quality, advancing student equity, and improving outcomes for children. I have led various non-profit boards and state task forces, bringing people together to find common sense solutions. I have a Ph.D. in Political Science from CU Boulder.

    Three priorities motivated me to run:

    • I will prioritize student mental health, well-being, and sense of belonging in our schools. All students should feel safe and supported in their school.
    • The district is getting strong results after providing extra financial support to our schools and students who need more support.  As one-time money expires, we should find a way to institutionalize these investments and to support other recent initiatives.
    • I hope we can expand high school students’ access to challenging content and activities that prepare them for whatever they choose when they leave BVSD, including students not interested in selective colleges. This includes everything that can make high school more engaging, such as access to Career and Technical Education and post-secondary options.

    Several challenges face the incoming board.

    Declining enrollment is one of the most serious challenges facing the district. I support the recommendations of the Long Range Advisory Committee. The district should be transparent with families about the trade-offs of under-enrolled schools, including reduced staffing and programs — and the possibility of eventual closures. We should work with families and educators to explore all available options to maintain overall district enrollment and encourage sufficient enrollment in small schools to support strong programming. For example, we should explore adjustments to attendance boundaries and new program offerings in small schools while ensuring our open enrollment policies don’t exacerbate student stratification. Ultimately, our budget and long-range decisions should reflect the district’s and the community’s values.

    Student safety is BVSD’s primary responsibility.  We must ensure all students are safe from external threats and issues within their school. Regardless of how this fall’s races play out, the district must be a good partner and collaborate with all the local city governments, police, and emergency responders. This work includes planning for emergency evacuations and partnering to address shared issues like encampments and violent threats from outside schools. All students should feel safe and included in school, which requires the district administration, school leaders, and staff to work together. I support the district’s decision to use School Safety Advocates as part of a comprehensive and evidence-based strategy to make all our students feel safe.  This new program and other initiatives should be monitored and evaluated — and adjusted as needed — to meet student needs and to address community concerns.

  • Cynthia Nevison

    Email: cynthiadn@protonmail.com
    Website: cynthiaforbvsd.com

    I am the mother of two high school students who have attended BVSD schools since kindergarten. I work as a research scientist in biogeochemistry and have a Ph.D. from Stanford University. I taught university-level chemistry for 4 years and have also studied health, nutrition and immunology and done pro bono research on time trends in children’s health.   

    If elected, I will vote to make reducing class sizes a top priority in the BVSD budget. In this regard, I also support training and hiring additional paraprofessionals and special education teachers. As elementary schools downsize from three to two classes per grade due to declining enrollment, class sizes have ballooned to over 30 students.  This decreases the individual attention each student receives, with a negative impact on academic achievement. 

    The solution to downsizing should not be closing neighborhood schools and selling them off. That harms both students and neighborhoods. If elected, I will do everything in my power to keep schools open, which will require, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, learning “to do more with less.” 

    Declining enrollment is not just a function of birth rate demographics. Trust in our public education system has been eroded because school districts adopted measures without question from public health officials, including shutting down normal classes for a year. Last year, enrollment in kindergarten declined to 89% of district area births 5 years prior, a 6% drop from historical enrollment. BVSD needs to ask parents why – and it needs to listen to the answers – and try to win back these missing students.   

    Finally I support the Safe Zones 4 Kids ballot initiative which will prohibit homeless encampments next to schools, multi-use paths, and sidewalks.  BVSD needs to elevate our children’s safety as its highest priority. 

  • Andrew Steffl

    Email: ajsteffl@gmail.com
    Website: andrewsteffl.org

    Bio coming soon.


  • Andrew Brandt

    Email: letstalk
    Website: brandtforbvsd.co

    Andrew Brandt currently works as a cybercrime investigator for Sophos X-Ops, and volunteers for CU Boulder’s Media Archaeology Lab. A former investigative journalist at PC World, he also served as the Director of Threat Research for Blue Coat Systems and Symantec before joining Sophos in 2018. He views a seat on the school board as the next phase of his community service work, to help BVSD maintain high standards and modernize itself. He has two children who currently attend BVSD schools (and have been in them their entire school careers) and has lived in Boulder for 15 years. 

    Andrew Brandt is an alumnus of the public school systems in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California, and graduated from UC Berkeley. 

    As a journalist, Andrew views his professional career through a lens of education, as it provides the general public with information meant to help them protect themselves from cybercrime and other forms of harm originating over the internet. Andrew is a fan of, and participant in, the arts. Before moving to Colorado, he volunteered as an Open Studio instructor of ceramic arts at the Piedmont Center for the Arts in Piedmont, CA;  In Boulder, he volunteered at Studio Arts Pottery Lab’s fundraisers. While his children were students at Eisenhower Elementary in Boulder, he and his wife, Clare, designed and led the build team for the school garden, and for several years ran an annual garden fundraiser auctioning off pumpkins grown at the school. 

    Issues of interest

    School and student safety: BVSD’s decision to remove armed, uniformed police from schools has been a huge success, improving safety and inclusion for our kids. After a process involving a lot of stakeholder input, the BVSD board voted on this decision, but our community made the choice to replace SROs with our current School Safety Advocates (SSAs). I applaud the success it has enjoyed so far. Our highly trained SSA professionals are focused solely on student safety, full time. SROs only worked in schools about twice a week, and on those days they mostly wrote tickets. SSAs prioritize good relationships with students, building trust that helps them do their job effectively. SSAs also sweep the area around Boulder High School for threats early each weekday, well before students arrive, and work with the Safe-To-Tell program preventing acts of self-harm. I think the district has done an incredibly good job protecting the student body across the board, but we can and must do more to safeguard vulnerable communities, including our population of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and neurodiverse students.

    Declining enrollment: The question about declining enrollment really comes down to funding, an unfortunate downside to the city of Boulder’s reputation as one of the best places to live in the country. With fewer kids enrolled, we have fewer resources. BVSD schools are in high demand due to the quality of our education, yet too few families with young children can afford to live within the district boundaries. Every 1% of student population loss (about 300 students) costs the district $3 million in annual funding. I support local leaders who will fight to reduce the high cost of housing, support developing additional revenue sources, and will work to end TABOR. I also think the district can be a lot more creative in seeking grants and alternative revenue sources, and making partnerships with private industry, to help fund our priorities. 

    Disproportionate discipline: Recent studies on the use of restorative justice practices in school settings show that student outcomes are better when a person who harmed something or someone else goes through this process. Kids reflect on their behavior and make meaningful amends for wrongs, and learn empathy and social skills. Those same studies found that traditional punishments not only alienate the punished student, but make it more likely they quit before graduating high school. While BVSD has made significant strides in the transparency we need to do additional work around supporting schools in mitigating these discrepancies and in having clear standards and expectations for our staff around these issues, including additional implicit bias training and ensuring more oversight of subjective discipline.

    Differentiated funding: I support the continuation of our differentiated funding model that gives more help to schools that need it. The budget plan places most of the district – 37 out of 52 total schools, more than 70% of schools – in either the “high” or “targeted” support category. That to me means the district still has more work ahead of it, but the success so far is promising. I want to see the schools expand their use of in-school mental health drop-in centers, since student success is very closely tied to mental health. I think it’s important for a student-led restorative justice to be front and center in most student discipline discussions, and would like to expand that model to the middle school level. I value arts, music, athletics, and tech-dependent creative programs like 3D modeling and graphic design, as well as career and technical education that can prepare students for a life after high school that doesn’t necessarily involve higher education.

  • Lalenia Quinlan Aweida

    Email: LQAforBVSD@gmail.com
    Website: LQAforBVSD.com

    Lalenia grew up in Boulder and has three children in public school. She has worked in BVSD classrooms for six years as a Sexual Assault Prevention Educator. Lalenia currently serves on the BVSD Title IX Advisory Council, works as a Restorative Justice Facilitator for the District Attorney’s Office, and recently completed BVSD’s Leadership Academy.   She will utilize her strong community relationships to promote mental health, safety and equity for our students.  Lalenia is proudly endorsed by BVSD’s Teachers Union (BVEA) and will work to support academic excellence and meaningful pathways for all students post graduation.  


    Working within budget to provide relevant and challenging educational opportunities for ALL students. ​​

    K-12 education is underfunded in Colorado. BVSD also has additional strain on the budget due to declining enrollment. It’s imperative that all students get their needs met in the classroom. As elementary schools may be particularly affected by budget cuts, Lalenia’s priority is to make sure education remains strong and that kids have continued opportunities for PE, art, music, library, and counseling services.

    At the high school level Lalenia wants to investigate, understand, and mitigate barriers to entry for minority students pursuing high level Advanced Placement and IB programing.

    Lalenia supports increased connections with community to foster postgraduate success with career readiness. Engaging the talents of our students through apprenticeships, internships, and other work-based programming is essential.

    Supporting the mental and physical well-being of students.

    The long-term social and emotional effects of covid are still unknown, and we have witnessed the Marshall Fire and King Soopers violence. Lalenia supports the continued staffing of BVSD’s high school Student Wellness Centers, which each have a dedicated full time counselor. These are not traditional high school counseling offices, focused on scheduling and post-graduate prep, but rather a place for kids to reset when feeling overwhelmed. It’s crucial that we continue to build robust systems of counseling and support in our schools. Lalenia advocates for similar programs in all middle schools. 

    Advocating for both personal and campus safety in partnership with community experts. 

    Our kids face a myriad of social issues: increased suicide rates, sexual assault, disproportionate discipline, social media…just to name a few. Our connections to community experts help us to provide our students with the most up to date support and information. These partnerships help our teachers to focus on education, while community members provide support around social and emotional aspects of navigating adolescence.

    Examples of valuable partnerships between BVSD and community organizations:

    • Blue Sky Bridge – Provides sex assault prevention education, forensic interviewing, continued counseling support for children and families who have experienced sexual violence.
    • Boulder Valley Safe Schools Coalition – A public/private partnership in support of gay, lesbian, transgender queer and questioning youth.
    • Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) – Provides support and services to survivors of sexual violence
    • Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) – Provides sex assault prevention education and crisis intervention, legal advocacy and counseling support for victims of interpersonal violence.

    Lalenia has worked to provide these services to BVSD students as a volunteer for both Blue Sky Bridge and MESA.

    The next Board of Education will have to face the critical issue of declining enrollment in BVSD.  One hazard of declining enrollment is that students have a less comprehensive educational experience.  Under-enrolled schools cannot be adequately staffed and maintained.  Thus, it’s imperative that the Board of Education use all practical and strategic levers at their disposal to address the challenges that declining enrollment creates. With 2020 census data in hand, the examination of attendance boundaries provides such a lever.  Understanding how school choice impacts declining enrollment is also important.  Data acquisition will be key in this decision-making process, as well as transparency and strong community outreach.


  • Jorge Chavez

    Email: jorgeforbvsd@gmail.com
    Website: jorgeforbvsd.com

    Jorge Chávez is a parent to three BVSD students. As a parent volunteer in BVSD, Jorge has been a member of Family and Educators Together (FET), the Latino Parent Advisory Council, the School Accountability Committee (SAC) at Pioneer Elementary (chair 3 years), and District Accountability Committee (DAC – Chair 2 years & current vice-chair). Jorge earned a BA in Psychology and a BA in Criminal Justice at the University Nevada and an MA and PhD in Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver.


    BVSD is in the same situation as many other school districts across the nation, grappling with a diverse range of challenges. One of the most pressing issues faced by BVSD is continued long-term enrollment declines and subsequent negative impact on the budget. These trends were accelerated by the pandemic, and we do not have the luxury to wait any longer. Similarly, while BVSD is a high performing district academically, there are also long-standing inequalities in educational outcomes, lack of equitable access to advanced coursework, and inequalities in punitive discipline practices which affect the same groups of students. Despite recent focus in the strategic plan BVSD on these issues has failed to make significant progress. In addition, youth in Colorado, like those across the nation, are experiencing a mental health crisis. We have reached a critical juncture in the need to address this issue in BVSD. Continued expansion of evidence based Social Emotional Learning, culturally competent, trauma-informed, licensed health professionals, and wrap around services in schools are a move in the right direction, as are partnerships like the expansion of Wellness Centers supported by Impact on Education. But to date, there is increasing need and demand across BVSD.

    Through my work as a parent volunteer in BVSD and in my professional role, I have met with families, teachers, and administrators to learn about the unique needs of families and educators at BVSD and advised the District Administration and the Board of Education on budget, policy, data transparency, unified improvement plans, diversity, equity, and inclusion, mental health resources, school safety and climate, school discipline, and long-term planning. I have seen firsthand the tremendous work conducted by BVSD administration, staff, and faculty. I recognize the challenges facing BVSD and also its potential.


    We need to ensure equitable educational opportunities for all BVSD students –

    regardless of socioeconomic status, race & ethnicity, language, gender identity, learning needs, or what school they go to in BVSD. I’m running for the school board to ensure that BVSD

    teachers and schools have the systems, supports, and resources to educate and meet the needs of all our students so they can be successful. I will work to:

    • Grow an inclusive school community so that all our kids feel welcome and safe
    • Increase supports and resources for mental health and well-being for our students and teachers
    • Expand access to engaging curriculum and programming so all students can achieve their own pathways to academic excellence
    • Center equity, transparency, and accountability in decision-making
  • Stuart Lord

    Email: stuartforBVSD@gmail.com
    Website: stuartforBVSD.com

    Stuart Lord, a distinguished American educator and leader, passionately champions student empowerment and leadership development. With over $150 million raised for educational initiatives, he has a proven track record of enhancing access to education.

    As CEO of Delta Developmental, LLC in Boulder, Colorado, a full-service consulting firm with a demonstrated commitment to and focus on; executive coaching, organizational health, leadership development on strategy and execution, and advancing strategic institutionalization of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    He leverages extensive experience from DePauw University and Dartmouth, where he served as Associate Dean, Associate Provost and Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. Lord directed the President’s Summit for America’s Future during President Bill Clinton’s tenure, subsequently becoming Naropa University’s first African-American President. During his tenure at Naropa, he led the strategic plan to restructure the entire University and expand their academic footprint.

    Engaged in the BVSD Partnership Council and the NAACP Political Action Committee, Stuart’s journey from New Rochelle, New York’s foster care system to earning degrees from Texas Christian University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the United Theological Seminary underscores his unwavering commitment to educational excellence.

  • Anil Pesaramelli

    Email: anil4bvsd@gmail.com
    Website: anil4bvsd.com

    I live in Erie, CO with my wife and 2 kids. The son is a Junior at CU studying Psychology and my daughter is a sophomore at Peak to Peak high school. I have an MBA from University of Iowa and a Masters degree in Engineering from University of Louisiana. I work for Kaiser Permanente as a software engineer.

    As a candidate for the school board, I am committed to:

    Revisiting Curriculum: I believe in revisiting and reimagining our curriculum to make it more engaging and relevant to the interests of our students. Education should not be a one-size-fits-all approach; it should cater to the diverse talents and passions of each child.

    Expanding Career-Oriented Programs: I am dedicated to expanding programs that introduce students to various career opportunities from a young age. By connecting classroom learning with real-world experiences, we can inspire our youth and prepare them for future success.

    Fostering a Love for Learning: I want to create an educational environment where curiosity is encouraged, questions are valued, and students are excited to learn. When we ignite a passion for learning, we empower our children to thrive academically and personally.


League of Women Voters’ of Boulder County
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization, which encourages informed and active participation in government; and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Impact on Education
Impact on Education is the foundation supporting nearly 30,000 students and 4,000 educators of the Boulder Valley School District. Since 1983, we’ve provided supplemental funding and resources to students and educators in order to expand what’s possible in education.

Boulder Valley District Parent Council
The Boulder Valley District Parent Council (DPC) is made up of one representative from every school in the district. We meet once a month during the school year with the Superintendent of Schools to discuss and examine timely and relevant topics that affect the students and schools of BVSD.

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