In 2016, I was debating if I should run for University City School Board. I was interested — but I had doubts.
“Why me? Am I qualified enough?” I wondered. Was I ready to lead?
During that time, I had the opportunity to participate in two LEE programs — Lead to Serve and the African American Political Leadership Program. Having LEE’s support pushed me to the next step. LEE staff helped develop my confidence and shared invaluable resources and knowledge, dismantling the fears I had and enabling me to pursue making my vision a reality.
I let go of the thoughts that prevented me from moving forward, and decided that I would go for it. Ultimately, I realized that no one could be the leader that I knew I could be — I am the change people have been waiting for.
So, early this year, I filed my candidacy for the University City School Board. After a hard campaign, I was one out of three successful candidates, winning 25% of the vote. Now, I influence policy that impacts over 2,800 students in my community.
Today, I am constantly juggling communications with other board members, staff and the community as we reimagine learning for our students. That includes school events, community gatherings and bi-monthly board meetings. I learn about innovative policies and strategies other districts are using. Most importantly, I keep in contact with parents, teachers, and students to know if their needs are being met.
I believe those who are directly impacted by educational inequity have a unique role in creating the solution. The people it affects every day must show up, advocate for themselves, be heard and take action with the support of all involved. That is why I partner with students, parents, school board members, administrators and community members to find solutions and address their concerns.
I have been able to combine my vision for educational equity with my leadership skills. While I doubted my abilities, working with LEE gave me the confidence to become the youngest member of the University City School Board.
You, too, are ready to lead. If you’re interested in deepening your understanding of how elected leadership impacts educational equity and explore your interest in serving as an elected leader, apply now to join Lead to Serve.
Chelsea is a TFA St. Louis ’14 alum living in University City, MO, where she is an education consultant and the Program Director of Hues for Humanity, a nonprofit that aspires to be a mechanism to transform St. Louis into a more inclusive and understanding community. She also serves on the board of Ready Readers, an early childhood reading organization. She currently serves on the University City School Board.