Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) voters will cast ballots in a June 4 special election to select a trustee for Area 4, to replace Joe Giannini, who resigned from the board Oct. 22.
The candidates are Gabrielle Blackman and Niranjana “Nini” Natarajan.
Natarajan was appointed to the seat Dec. 11 on a 3-1 board vote. A group of residents challenged the appointment by circulating a petition that called for an election.
Gabrielle Blackman stated, “As a parent of 3 school-aged children and a 13 year Dublin resident, I am concerned with the impact exponential growth is having on our schools and community.”
She says that she has volunteered for a decade across the district. “In doing so I have gained a deep understanding of the challenges both our children and our schools are facing.” She has been an advocate for a second high school.
She adds, “ Our schools have made huge strides since my family moved to the Tri-Valley in 2001, yet without effective solutions to growth and funding issues, the district will struggle to continue to provide equitable access to a quality education.”
She graduated from Cornell University’s Architectural Art & Planning College with a Bachelor of Architecture degree (with honors).
As a Senior Designer in the Architectural Industry, she has served as a Principal and as a Senior Associate for several world-renowned firms (KPF, NBBJ). She has overseen large teams and led the design of a broad array of projects including: large scale civic planning projects, medical centers (including the 1st AIDS patient center), massive high-rise projects, retail centers, high-rise luxury housing, federal headquarters, federal courthouses, train and airport terminals, as well as major research centers.
She declared that as trustee, she would engage in a civil and proactive discourse in working with the other trustees to bring greater leadership to the board, with the intent of:
• Promoting critical thinking to the district by strategically aligning funding allocations with prioritized needs, and ensuring fiscal solvency to meet long-term planning goals.
• Restoring integrity to the board through transparency, by strengthening communication with the Dublin community and delivering on promises made to the community.
• Pursuing development of innovative curriculum that advances students’ college, and career readiness and aligns elective offerings with future industry trends.
• Bringing a fresh perspective to solving the district’s growth issues by partnering with the City of Dublin to remedy the impact of housing expansion, and developing a cohesive long-term vision for the entire district.
For more information, go to www.Gabi4Dublin.com or facebook: Gabrielle4DublinSchoolBoard.
A press release issued by the district following her appointment to the board includes information about her background and goals as a trustee.
Originally from Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu on the eastern coast of India, Natarajan attended Madras University where she received a Bachelor’s of Commerce and Accounting, and later earned the designation of Chartered Accountant. In 2004, she married and moved to the United States with her husband after receiving an H4 visa, which is issued to dependent family members of H1B visa holders. She became a U.S. citizen in 2013.
The family settled in the Silicon Valley. While her husband worked for a Bay Area semiconductor company, Natarajan earned her CPA, and now holds the title of Head of Finance for a growth stage startup in San Mateo. The family welcomed their first daughter in 2007, and a second in 2009. Her interest in education came after enrolling their children in private school, where she felt the experience was not as balanced as it should be.
“While good grades are important, there is so much more to developing an intelligent, curious and emotionally well-balanced child. I want my children, well, all children, to learn in an environment that embraces a sense of community and that strives to provide experiential, interactive learning experiences that foster skills like communication, collaboration, and compromise,” stated Natarajan.
In 2014, Ms. Natarajan moved to Dublin with her family, and enrolled her daughters in Dougherty Elementary school, later moving to Amador Elementary and now attending Cottonwood Creek. During this period, Natarajan became involved with Destination Imagination as a parent mentor to teams for multiple years.
Natarajan stated, “Destination Imagination has been a wonderful experience for my children and myself. The program provides the type of hands-on learning I feel is essential to stimulating the minds of our future leaders, As a Board member, I will push to expand programs of this nature for our children.”