I am a mother of two kiddos, with one in the BHPS. This year I’ve reached a threshold of tolerance, and had a very emotional reaction to the district axioms used to justify inequitable academic and disciplinary policies and decisions. Although I voiced my concerns at a board meeting, I was met with scripted tone-deaf rhetoric and left defeated, silenced, and powerless. This experience severely reduced my confidence in the Board of Education, and inspired me to learn more about the upcoming BOE elections.

I confided my feelings to a long-time friend, and felt very lucky when she connected me to a group of like-minded parents. It was through this small community where I met Joy Young and Ramya Kasthuri, and learned of their decision to run for the BOE. In weighing who would best represent the needs of my family, I was looking specifically for candidates that heard my concerns and had real actionable solutions to address them - I found these qualities in Joy Young and Ramya Kasthuri. 

Joy and Ramya listened to my frustrations, connected me with others, and cultivated community of neighbors where raw and honest emotions were processed into productive energy. Since their declaration of candidacy, they’ve expanded this community and opened the doors for all to engage through meet and greets as well as listening sessions. I’ve left every event feeling inspired, energized, and best of all hopeful. I have yet to experience such a warm, welcoming and open connection with anyone else on the ticket – although opportunities have been presented. 

Over the last two months, I’ve observed them live their platform through face-to-face engagements, and active advocacy for quality mental health support, as well as academic accountability. These women embody community, and will be certain to serve as a lifeline for those who are struggling with the endless void of empty promises and last minute high-impact decisions. In Joy and Ramya I have found cheerleaders and sounding boards – sources of positivity at time of dejection, and sources of community in a time of seclusion.  Please join me in voting for Joy Young and Ramya Kasthuri for the Berkeley Heights BOE.