An Independent snapshot of Scottsdale school board candidates

Statements of interest, campaign finances reported

Posted 6/2/20

While the municipalities of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley have primary council elections coming up this August, the school board that serves the two communities will have its own election Tuesday, …

To Our Valued Readers –

Visitors to our website will be limited to five stories per month unless they opt to subscribe.

For $5.99, less than 20 cents a day, subscribers will receive unlimited access to the website, including access to our Daily Independent e-edition, which features Arizona-specific journalism and items you can’t find in our community print products, such as weather reports, comics, crossword puzzles, advice columns and so much more six days a week.

Our commitment to balanced, fair reporting and local coverage provides insight and perspective not found anywhere else.

Your financial commitment will help to preserve the kind of honest journalism produced by our reporters and editors. We trust you agree that independent journalism is an essential component of our democracy. Please click here to subscribe.

Charlene Bisson, Publisher, Independent Newsmedia

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

An Independent snapshot of Scottsdale school board candidates

Statements of interest, campaign finances reported

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board election will be Tuesday, Nov. 3. A number of individuals have filed paperwork to run for one of the three seats up this year.
The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board election will be Tuesday, Nov. 3. A number of individuals have filed paperwork to run for one of the three seats up this year.
(Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

While the municipalities of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley have primary council elections coming up this August, the school board that serves the two communities will have its own election Tuesday, Nov. 3 a part of the general election ballot.

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board --- which oversees 30 schools between Scottsdale and Paradise Valley --- has three seats up for election: Allyson Beckham; Sandy Kravetz; and Barbara Perleberg.

Although the election is months away, a handful of individuals have come forward to fill those three seats. The people who have filled out Statement of Interest forms to run for SUSD Governing Board are:

  • Kathleen Angelos
  • Julie Cieniawski
  • Allison Corritore
  • Lucy DiGrazia
  • Elizabeth Hart-Wells
  • Zachary Lindsay
  • Rose Smith

To become an official candidate, petitions and signatures must be turned in to the Maricopa County Superintendent’s Office by 5 p.m. Monday, July 6. The first day to submit petitions is June 8.

Arizona Revised Statutes stipulates that each candidate must file a Statement of Interest form with the county Superintendent’s office prior to collecting nomination petition signatures --- which concludes the three incumbents are not seeking re-election.

Ms. Perleberg was first elected to the school board in 2012, and began her term in January 2013. Ms. Beckham, who currently serves as president of the board, and Ms. Kravetz, were elected in November 2016.

The seven people who are seeking official candidacy were asked to provide basic information about themselves as election season starts to heat up.

Responses were not received from Allison Corritore at the time of publication.

Meet the candidates

Kathleen Angelos

Tell us about yourself:

Kathleen, who likes to be called “Kate,” is the oldest of six daughters born in Brooklyn, New York to an Irish mother and Greek father. She had a parochial education growing up. At 21, Kate enlisted in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War. On her return, she was assigned to Luke Air Force Base in 1976, where she served out the remaining part of her four-year enlistment. Shortly after her discharge, Kate attended the Arizona College of Technology earning her Associates Degree.

It was not until 1982 that Kate decided to enlist in the United States Navy. Her assignments found her stationed in Brunswick, Maine; on Treasure Island in San Francisco, California and onboard USNS HASSAYAMPA (AO-145), a forward deployed WESTPAC oiler during Desert Storm. In 1992, Kate was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a brief six-month assignment. Shortly after her return, Kate finished up her four-year degree at St. Francis College in New York. Her concentration was Communication and Special Studies. In between Reserve assignments, Kate held a position at Immigration and Naturalization Service in New York City.

Between 2004 – 2011, Kate worked as a defense contractor in the Middle East during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Doha, Qatar and Baghdad, Iraq.

Why are you running for Scottsdale school board?

Kate is fully retired and currently lives in Scottsdale. She is running for the school board because she feels she can make a viable contribution to the safeguarding of students, and bring a positive balance to the School Board. Students First is her motto!

Julie Cieniawski

Tell us about yourself:

I became a passionate advocate for all children when I began my teaching career in 1986. Since then, I have dedicated my efforts to teaching and supporting all students, families, colleagues, and our community.

As a parent of two SUSD graduates, community advocate, and award-winning educator, I support equality of opportunity and collaborative decision-making as the means to move SUSD forward. My diverse experiences and personal skill-set are unique and demonstrated by my extensive work in: curriculum development, assessment and grading, personnel evaluation, restorative justice, social-emotional wellness, school safety, and extensive school administration coursework. My diverse school service roles include: coach, performing arts director, department chair, club sponsor, assistant principal, and parent volunteer. My leadership on the Arizona Education Association Board of Directors, and as Scottsdale Education Association President enhances my commitment to excellence for ALL children.

An education matters to your child, our community, Arizona’s future, and our nation’s progress.

Why are you running for Scottsdale school board?

With over 30 years in the classroom as an educator, parent, and community leader, I understand the importance of honest and transparent decision making when it comes to issues that impact our students, families, school staff, and community.

All students deserve to be successful and receive the education necessary to be inspired, and to pursue their hopes and dreams. The stakeholders of our district deserve to be guided by competent, fiscally responsible leaders, treated with respect and dignity, and included as part of the decision-making process. I vow to move SUSD forward and create a great learning experience for all students.

Lucy DiGrazia

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Lucy Mauro DiGrazia and I am a professional musician and music educator. I am a native of Fairfield, Connecticut and I grew up in one of the finest public school systems in the country. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Music from Rowan University and hold a Master of Science in Music Education from the University of Bridgeport. In addition to life as a performing musician, I have taught in public, private, Christian schools and for the past 25 years I have been home schooling. I am parent alumni to a 2010 Desert Mountain Graduate as well as two home school high school graduates and I currently home school my other children.

Why are you running for Scottsdale school board?

I am running for Scottsdale School Board because I am passionate about God, country and family and I believe that the future of our country depends on the children of today.

My focus will be on what is best for ALL students, their academic achievement and to implement policies that ensure student success. I am not afraid to tackle hot button issues head on and will work to ensure that our children are learning from a solid curriculum which includes advanced academic offerings as well as classical learning and to return sanity to our schools. I believe that parent involvement is crucial to successful education and I look forward to bringing our public school system back into the hands of the parents who are and should always be the final decision makers for their children. I will always fight on the side of the student and parental rights.

Elizabeth Hart-Wells

Tell us about yourself:

Dr. Elizabeth Hart-Wells is an educator, scientist, inventor and proud SUSD parent. She teaches chemistry at Glendale Community College, a campus that serves primarily Hispanic and Veterans communities. Dr. Hart-Wells served as vice president at the Purdue Research Foundation and as assistant vice president of research at Purdue University and associate director, Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, a direct reflection of her abilities to identify and establish collaborations between and among synergistic entities. New knowledge creation is a lifelong passion and led to Dr. Hart-Wells serving as a senior fellow in the United States Congress and to her serving as a research associate to The National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy. Dr. Hart-Wells is a critical and strategic thinker with proficient diplomatic skills and brings a unique technical skill set that, coupled with a strong work ethic, dedication and honesty, will benefit and inform SUSD governance.

Why are you running for Scottsdale school board?

I am a scientist, educator and proud SUSD parent with a focus on science education. Last summer, I judged the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, held in Phoenix. The ingenuity was inspiring, less so was the noticeable science literacy gap between U.S. students and their peers around the world. Today’s global world requires Arizona students to compete for opportunities with students in every ZIP code. New technical knowledge created on timescales of months presents unprecedented educational demands on teachers and students. I see a moment of great opportunity for our students, teachers and extended SUSD community. Let’s seize it!

Zachary Lindsay

Tell us about yourself:

Zach Lindsay lives in Scottsdale with his wife, Heidi, and their daughter Lily, a Cochise Elementary student who will be entering fourth grade. Originally from Missouri, Zach and his family have lived in Scottsdale for the last four years. Zach holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with an emphasis in finance, and has worked in the financial industry for the last 19 years. He began his career with Citi, and eventually started his own independent financial services practice. Zach and Heidi chose SUSD solely because of the excellent education the district provides, and he has been a promoter of the district since Lily started kindergarten. Along with many other caring parents, he fought for Kiva Elementary’s upcoming rebuild. He is invested in supporting teachers, staff, students, and families and has met with district leadership over the years to advocate for high quality educational experiences for all students.

Why are you running for Scottsdale school board?

Zach is a dedicated SUSD parent, and is running for the governing board to serve and support SUSD students, their families, teachers, and staff. He is passionate about ensuring stakeholders have a voice, and he wants to listen and learn as he helps make important decisions for the district. He wants to make certain the district has effective and transparent financial management. He is confident that his skill-set will complement the governing board in thinking strategically about the growth and health of the district. He believes EVERY child in SUSD should feel valued and that they have access to resources they need to succeed.

Rose Smith

Tell us about yourself:

My family’s long residency in the Scottsdale Unified School District began when I started high school in 1970. I am a proud Saguaro graduate and my grandchildren are the third generation to attend SUSD schools. Professionally, I have a long career of working with children and youth, including Youth and Family Services with City of Scottsdale and as administrative support for SUSD secondary schools. I retired from SUSD in 2017 and continued to support the district through school volunteering and as a committee member of “Yes to Children.” Additionally, I hold an appointed volunteer position on the Department of Education’s Professional Practices Advisory Committee and am a member of Arizona Education Association (AEA) Retired.

Why are you running for Scottsdale school board?

As board member, I will strive to ensure that SUSD’s legacy of 100 years of excellence continues. I believe in ensuring that every child feels valued and deserves an equitable opportunity for growth and enrichment. I will do my utmost to ensure proper oversight of public funds and strive to make sure classroom funding is a priority. As a former member of SUSD Classified Leadership, I value all employees and their contribution to the lives of our students. I recognize that Strong Schools Build Strong Communities. For those without young children, that means increased property values and attracting business leaders who value educated citizens. I will work for our students, our families and our community. For more information visit

Campaign finance

A Political Committee Statement of Organization must be filed with either the Maricopa County Elections Department or the Office of the Maricopa County School Superintendent once a candidate’s committee has reached a combined total of $1,200 in contributions and expenses. This includes the use of the candidate’s own monies.

Unlike the Statement of Interest, candidates can gather petition signatures without filing a Statement of Organization.

According to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, Ms. Cieniawski and Ms. Smith are the only two candidates to have campaign finance documents filed at this time.

The vast majority of Ms. Cieniawski’s campaign contributions came in during the first quarter of 2020 --- Jan. 1 through March 31.

According to her campaign finance documents, she has garnered $7,865 in individual donations during the first quarter.

Contributors include:

  • Mark Greenburg, father of current SUSD Governing Board member Jann-Michael Greenburg: He has donated a total of $1,500 over multiple payments.
  • Mike Peabody, a former SUSD board candidate in the 2018 election: $100
  • Bronwyn Maxwell, a local teacher and wife to City Council candidate Kevin Maxwell: $75
  • Solange Whitehead, Scottsdale City Councilwoman: $100.

A number of current and retired teachers have donated to Ms. Cieniawski as well.

Ms. Smith’s donations total $1,931, the campaign finance documents show.

Donations over $50 are made up of five contributors:

  • Mr. Greenburg gave $200;
  • Dirk Smith, her husband, gave $1,000;
  • Deborah Spaulding, SUSD IT director gave $500;
  • Grace Stombres, Cheyenne Traditional School principal gave $100; and
  • Brehan King, an anesthesiologist gave $100.

The remaining $31 is not identified because it was less than $50.