At a Special Meeting on May 1, 2013, the Board of Education unanimously voted to appoint Julie Sinai, U.C. Berkeley’s Director of Local Government and Community Relations, to fill an 18 month vacancy on the Board.
The appointment followed a process that brought 10 candidates from throughout the community to fill a seat that opened when Board President Leah Wilson resigned on March 31, 2013, due to a possible conflict of interest in her new role as Court Executive Officer for the Alameda County Superior Court. The Berkeley/Albany League of Women Voters facilitated the Public Comment and Candidate Statement portion of the meeting.
President Hemphill remarked on the high quality of all of the applicants, stating, “It is a testimony to our community's belief in public education, and their commitment to making a quality education accessible to all of our youth.”
In the discussion of the strong field of candidates, Board members emphasized the need for the new Director to hit the ground running, with a new Superintendent coming on board soon, as well as ongoing labor negotiations, continued work on advancing the 2020 Vision, instituting the Common Core curriculum and strengthening partnerships with families, faith based and community organizations, and institutions of higher education.
The Directors unanimously agreed that Julie Sinai stood out as someone who could “roll up her sleeves and be ready for work on day one.” Director-Select Sinai will have an opportunity to do just that when she is sworn in and joins the Board for their May 8th meeting.
Julie Sinai has a long history of involvement with the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD), beginning with her role as the Director of School-Linked Programs for BUSD from 1999-2002. As the Mayor of Berkeley’s Senior Aide (2002-2007) and Chief of Staff (2008-2012) she retained a strong focus on education. Sinai also served as part of the Planning Committee and Design Team for the 2020 Vision.
In her current role as Director of Local Government and Community Relations for U.C. Berkeley, Sinai works to build partnerships across the East Bay with community, educational, and government institutions on issues of mutual concern.
Her daughter is a junior at Berkeley High School and her son, a 2010 BHS graduate, is a senior at University of Michigan. Her children have been students at Rosa Parks, King, and Longfellow.
As Director-Select Sinai expressed her sincere appreciation to the Berkeley School Board for their vote of support and confidence in her, she said “It is an honor to serve with such strong advocates for public education. I am truly humbled by the list of applicants for this position. Our community is so fortunate to have such passionate, committed and knowledgeable people working on behalf of our kids.”
This has been a busy week for the Berkeley School Board, with a delegation of Board, District and community members having conducted and debriefed a site visit to Hayward, the home district of Dr. Donald Evans, the finalist for the position of Superintendent for BUSD. An update on the Superintendent site visit is posted on the BUSD website.