Lessons from Family
Our families help to form us and instill in us values that we carry into adulthood. Marie’s family was no exception. Marie is the eldest in a large family. Moving the family from Chicago to Los Angeles during Marie’s middle school years to provide for his growing family, Marie’s father taught his children the value of hard work. He instilled in them a strong work ethic. In charge of the family budget, Marie’s mother taught her how to stretch a dollar and the importance of fiscal restraint. Also, by example she taught her children the importance of service to others and reaching out to those with less.
The work of representing a constituency demands that the representative be present for the constituents. A representative needs to reach out and listen to hear the needs of all constituents. During her tenure as a school board member, Marie has worked hard advocating for students, teachers, and staff. During incredibly difficult budgetary times, her focus has been on keeping dollars in the classroom. Fiscal restraint has been imperative in these tough times.
Marie with her daughters, Michelle and Alicia, and her husband, Alan
The Value of Education
Following high school, Marie decided to pursue a career in science. She spent her first year at CSU Northridge while working to pay her college expenses and to save for her transfer to San Diego. While at the University of San Diego, Marie was selected to spend a year studying at Oxford University in England. Upon graduation, she received her degree in chemistry.
Biology was on the cusp of the genomic revolution and Marie chose to pursue graduate studies in biology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. After receiving her degree, she pursued her interest in molecular biology by continuing graduate work at UC Davis in biochemistry.
Her many years in school led to a lifelong love of learning. For the past 19 years Marie has been fortunate to be able to teach in the community college system. She is currently on the biology faculty at Moorpark College, where she has taught both traditional and online courses. She has also served as department chair and co-chair of the college’s curriculum committee. After teaching for a number of years, Marie decided to take up additional graduate studies at USC in the field of higher education. She graduated from USC the same year her older daughter graduated from high school.
Education is the key to renewed economic growth. If we are to continue to grow, we must ensure that education is a priority and that the opportunity for education is accessible to all. We must ensure the availability of programs to re-train workers with skills in emerging industries. At Moorpark College Marie has worked on the development of the industrial biotechnology program. She has collaborated with colleagues to offer biotechnology workshops to secondary science teachers with the goal of introducing middle and high school students to careers in biotechnology.
Marie teaching biotechnology to local middle school students
Service to Community
Following in her mother’s footsteps of service to others, Marie joined the Peace Corps following her graduate work at UC Davis. She served for two years in Ghana, West Africa teaching chemistry in a secondary school. The experience living and working in a developing country is something that changes one forever. One gains a new and very different perspective on American life. One returns with a keen appreciation for this country and the diversity of its people.
Following her return to the U.S., Marie settled in Ventura County where she currently resides with her husband of 21 years. They have two daughters who attend college. Together, Marie and her husband melded the Christian value of self-giving with the Jewish value of tikkun olam to establish a family ethic of service to others for the betterment of community. The entire family participated in volunteer projects to improve the lives of others in the community. Additionally, Marie was an active participant in her daughters’ school life. While her daughters were in elementary school, Marie volunteered her time conducting after school science classes and serving as a Girl Scout co-leader.
In 2002, Marie successfully ran for the local school board. She is currently serving her second term. Marie believes that every student is important and that every student should have the opportunity to be challenged and to excel to the extent of his or her ability. And, education should prepare students for work in contemporary society.
Accomplishments while serving on the school board include: a balanced budget in fiscally difficult times, focusing resources on the classroom, introduction of a Chinese language program, expansion of occupational offerings at the high school, and support for music and the arts. During her tenure, Marie has striven to be available, accessible, and responsive to the community.
More recently, Marie has served on the board of Community Action of Ventura County, an organization that provides services and outreach to low-income families and individuals and to the homeless. It is essential that support services are available to those in need. And, in today’s economy, there are many in need.
Marie at the Tri-County Labor Council awards banquet with AFT local 1828 executive director Cathy Sage and president John Wagner
There is an urgent need, particularly in California, but also throughout the country, to focus on education: education that provides our youth with the skills that will allow them to obtain jobs that pay a living wage, education that bolsters the economies of our communities, education that provides re-training for those who need it, education that encourages a passion for learning. Marie’s work in science and education gives her the necessary background to advocate for a quality education for our children, an education that is tied to the needs and demands of a technological society. Marie’s community service work has given her a global perspective of the needs of our region, the need to thoughtfully manage our resources, the need to consider priorities and values in making decisions, the need to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the whole, the need to work for the good of everyone in developing policy. It is individuals that comprise our communities; to grow our communities we must support each other. It is imperative that we provide opportunities for each individual so that we as a district, a state, and a nation can continue to grow and prosper.
Marie with endorsed candidates of National Women's Political Caucus