Westlake-based parent leader and retired business consultant, Karen Sylvester, has announced her candidacy for the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD), Area 1. Area 1, which does not currently have designated trustee representation after the 2018 redistricting process, spans from Hidden Valley through Westlake Village, California, and those residing within the area’s boundaries will be able to vote for a trustee on the November 3, 2020 ballot.
Sylvester is a parent to three children, all whom have attended — or are attending — schools in the CVUSD, including Westlake Hills Elementary, Colina Middle School and Westlake High School. She has taken an active role at her children’s schools, serving as president of the Westlake Hills Elementary School PFA, executive vice president of the Colina Middle School PTSA and president of the Westlake High School PTSA. In these positions she organized and led a dedicated group of parent volunteers who raised much-needed funds, arranged assemblies and extracurricular programs, and communicated with parents, teachers, and administration about campus issues.
“I had the pleasure of working with Karen when she was the vice president of Ways and Means for the Westlake High School PTSA,” said Pat Phelps, former CVUSD board trustee. “She handled a complicated job with intelligence and integrity, earning not only my respect, but the respect of the parents, teachers and administrators. Her reputation for thoughtful decision-making has only grown since then. She has the right combination of skills, background and relationships and is an excellent choice for the board.”
As a member of school site councils for both Westlake Hills Elementary and Westlake High School, as well as a member-at-large of the executive board for the District Advisory Council (DAC), Sylvester gained first-hand knowledge of how other school sites are grappling with the issues besetting the district, such as achievement gaps, school safety concerns, the social and emotional health of students, declining enrollment, and funding shortfalls.
“The success of our schools is critical to the future of our community,” said Sylvester. “A vibrant, healthy community is based on a respected school system that produces informed, educated, thoughtful citizens. My combination of school site leadership, CVUSD knowledge, and educational and professional credentials, uniquely positions me to be an effective trustee.”
Sylvester graduated with a bachelor of science degree in economics, summa cum laude, from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania before earning her MBA from Harvard Business School. She then embarked on a professional career in management consulting and banking, where she held vice president and project manager positions at CAST Management Consultants, Bankers Trust Company, Price Waterhouse, and Chase Econometrics, specializing in business strategy, marketing, and operational effectiveness.
Currently, Sylvester serves as a newly appointed member of the Measure I Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee to ensure funds are used correctly; as an appointed commissioner on the Thousand Oaks Council on Aging, where she focuses on educational concerns for senior adults; and as a representative from Westlake High School on the District Advisory Council. She and her husband reside in Westlake, and their youngest child is set to graduate from Westlake High School in June 2020. Find more information on her Facebook page at Sylvester4SchoolBoard.