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Valerie Coll

Where you live: Silver Spring/Colesville

Date of birth: July 19, 1950

Current occupation and employer:

Retired from MCPS in June 2021
32 years as a elementary classroom teacher

Political experience:


Email: val4boe@gmail.com

Facebook: facebook.com/ValerieColl4BOE

Why are you running for this office?

I am running to continue my service to students and families in Montgomery County. With my experience as a parent and in the classroom with the systems that MCPS uses for collaboration, communication and policy, I believe I bring a unique perspective to the table that has not previously been available. As someone who has been in the classroom for my entire career, I have been responsible for putting into practice what the system has demanded for instruction and assessment. My experience also as a union leader will give the BOE a lens it has not had which I believe is invaluable as our human resources are our single biggest expense and most valuable resource.

What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it?

The need for greater transparency and accountability to me is the most important issue for MCPS. It drives all of the decision making and process. It affects every single area that the school system provides to students and the community. The BOE needs to be that singular body, elected by the public, to demand and own how MCPS is run and how decisions are made.

What is one major issue that has been handled poorly and what would you have done differently?

There are so many challenges that we face but, through the experience of the pandemic, we have been brought face to face with the inequitable distribution of experiences in education that our students have had in the classroom. While the current equity analysis is underway, we must acknowledge that the system needs immediate attention with distribution of counseling services, building maintenance and class size. Our distribution of both capital and human resources have served some while dismissing the needs of others. I would not increase any central office positions or administrative positions until student needs are met.

What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office?

My work and personal experience with MCPS gives me a firm foundation into how the system is structured and operates. My drive for all of my professional educational career has been how to make the system work to the benefit of my students. I don’t seek this office to build a political career or create a power network to my own benefit. My singular purpose and goal is to make education of each and every student in our care the best and most beneficial education they can have as they move forward in their lives as lifelong learners.

Dawn Iannaco-Hahn

Where you live: Silver Spring

Date of birth: Feb. 20

Current occupation and employer:

Licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC)

Early childhood mental health therapist and consultant
Montgomery County government
Dept. of Health and Human Services
Child Care Support Services

Lead school mental health therapist
University of Maryland Medical System
University of Maryland School Mental Health Program

Senior mental health therapist
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
Community Psychiatry Program
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program

Political experience:


Website: http://www.anewdawn4boe.com

Email: anewdawn4boe@gmail.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/anewdawn4boe

Twitter: @Dawn_LCPC

Why are you running for this office?

I’ll bring a unique and much-needed fresh perspective to the board. I have mental health experience, educational experience, a child in MCPS and a child with an IEP. The board needs someone who truly understands the current mental health crisis and who isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. As a therapist, my job is to listen. We need someone on the board who will really listen to the community it’s supposed to serve – the families, students, and staff. I want to bring the joy back to teaching and learning and restore the community’s faith in the board and MCPS.

What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it?

Addressing the mental health crisis in MCPS is my top priority. MCPS needs a comprehensive school mental health program modeled after The National Center for School Mental Health. MCPS needs to work with DHHS to expand Linkages to Learning and build on its partnerships with local mental agencies to provide therapeutic services in school buildings. MCPS needs to address staffing issues to allow school social workers, counselors, and psychologists to do the jobs they were hired to do rather than providing coverage or subbing. MCPS also needs a better social/emotional curriculum that is more relevant and relatable to today’s youth.

What is one major issue that has been handled poorly and what would you have done differently?

The biggest failure was unnecessary extended school closures. We should never close school buildings or switch to virtual learning again. The impact that school closures and virtual learning had on students, staff, and families is profound. Students’ mental health needs were already present but are now at an all-time high. Social and emotional learning and development has been stunted. Student achievement is at an all-time low and needs urgent attention. I would have opened all MCPC school buildings for in-person education in August 2020 and ensured that at-risk students and staff had access to a virtual option if needed.

What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office?

I have 22 years of experience as a licensed mental health clinician. I’m also the parent to two school-age boys, one of whom has an IEP. I’ve worked in many school settings: preschool, early care and education, Head Start, elementary school, and middle school. I’ve worked with, alongside of, and trained teachers, staff, students and families across each of those settings. I’ve also never been afraid to speak up and advocate to get what my clients and my own children have needed. I’ve never been afraid to ask tough questions, be a dissenting voice, or go against the status quo.

Brenda Wolff

Where you live: District 5

Date of birth: August 1952

Current occupation and employer:

President – Montgomery County Board of Education (December 2020-present)

Consultant for U.S. Department of Education’s Principal Panel – CRP, Inc (2013-2018)

Senior program manager – National Assessment of Educational Progress – (Retired) U.S. Dept. of Education (2008-2012)

Political experience:

District 14 representative – Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (2016-2018)

Website: https://www.brendawolff.com

Email: brenda@brendawolff.com

Facebook: Brenda Wolff for Board of Education

Twitter: @brendawolff1

Instagram: BLWolff2 

Why are you running for this office?

My experience and leadership skills uniquely qualify me for the Board of Education. I am committed to expanding evidence based mental health supports, improving accountability and transparency in decisions, universal Pre-K for all 4-year-olds; equitable distribution of programs and working for the elimination of the opportunity gap. We need to measure program effectiveness to provide accountability to the community. The benefits of high-quality preschool, particularly in underserved communities are undeniable. We need to provide equitable opportunities without regard to ZIP code.

What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it?

The most important issue facing the school system is ensuring that all students are receiving challenging instruction and increasing student outcomes across the board. This means mitigating learning loss, accelerating learning, and expanding access to programs. We must focus on the values of equity and excellence, addressing opportunity gaps, and ensuring that all students have an instructional program that challenges. However, I recognize that it is imperative that social and emotional issues must be addressed in order for the conditions to be conducive for learning. We have increased mental health supports and put a laser-like focus on teaching and learning.

What is one criticism you have received while in office and what is your response?

Since Covid the Board and school system has received a wide spectrum of critiques. Open/close, mask/no masks, quarantine/no quarantine proponents and opponents have all weighed in, convinced that their position was correct. What was often missed is that in a public health crisis, educators had to rely on direction from our county health experts. Regardless of your personal views, experiences or preferences, when you are confronted with a global pandemic with potentially serious consequences for students and families, as a school system we must base our decisions on the guidance of the county public health experts.

What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office?

I have held numerous management and leadership positions in the U.S. Department of Education including, chief attorney for the Boston Office for Civil Rights, deputy director in the Philadelphia Office, director of the National Institute of Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking and Management; acting director of the National Institute on Education of At-Risk students; and senior program manager for the National Assessment of Educational Progress where I managed the budget and reporting. I am involved in education advocacy organizations and several mentoring programs. I am an education advocate who will work to eliminate disparities and increase opportunities on an equitable basis.