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Meet the candidates for Aspen School District Board of Education

Six candidates to answer five questions in lead-up to election

Staff report
Six candidates are vying for three open seats on the Aspen School District Board of Education in 2021 (clockwise from top left): Lawrence Butler, John Galambos, Christa Gieszl, Stacey Weiss, Susan Zimet and Anna Zane.
Editor’s Note

This is the first in The Aspen Times series of five questions posed to the six candidates vying for three openings on the Aspen School District Board of Education. The Times will publish the candidates’ responses to one of the questions each day this week through Friday. Each candidate was allowed up to 200 words for their response. Ballots were mailed to voters on Oct. 8 and Election Day is Nov. 2.

Today’s question: What do you see as the primary responsibility of the school board members?

Aspen School District Board of Education candidate Lawrence Butler is running for one of three open positions in the 2021 school board election.
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Name: Lawrence Butler

Age: 59

Family: I am happily married to Marla Butler. We have three children attending Aspen public schools: Folbe (ninth grade), Joshua (eighth grade) and Marshall (fifth grade).



Education: I have a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from UCLA.

Occupation: I am primarily in the real estate business (none in Aspen other than my house). I also spend considerable time investing in a variety of businesses.




Years living within Aspen School District: Six

Previous experience on boards and with nonprofits: I am currently a board member and chair of the Finance Committee for Ascendigo Autism Services, a Carbondale-based nonprofit which provides a variety of services to children and young adults on the Autism Spectrum. I have served on the boards of several for-profit companies and am currently a board member of Collective Liquidity, Inc.

Previous experience in the education sector: None other than being a parent.

What do you see as the primary responsibility of the school board members?

The primary responsibility of a board is to develop a strategic plan and budget in concert with all of the constituents, including administration, teachers, students, parents and interested citizens having real input. The board has a duty to have the final say but only after others have had the opportunity to participate in the process.

Aspen School District Board of Education candidate John Galambos is running for one of three open positions in the 2021 school board election.
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Name: John Galambos

Age: 55

Family: Robin Galambos, married 30 years. Three children: Marta (24), Katia (22) and Nicholas (20). All three attended Aspen School District K-12. Marta graduated from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly, SLO) in 2019. Katia graduated from Vassar College (2021) and Nick is a junior at University of Colorado Boulder.

Education: University of Minnesota, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Architecture, a five-year professional degree program.

Occupation: Architect and Owner of Galambos Architects, Inc., founded in 1998.

Years living within Aspen School District: 20 years in the district, 28 total years in the valley.

Previous experience on boards and with nonprofits: I have served on various design review boards within the valley, the North 40 HOA and Crossroads Church Leadership board.

Previous experience in the education sector: I am currently a member of the District Accountability Committee. In 2020, I served as co-chair of the “Funding our Future” campaign, in which we secured $94 million-plus in bonds and renewed taxes for Aspen School District. Last year, I also served on the search committee for the Aspen Middle School principal as a community member. I organized and volunteered for Project Graduation in 2019, 2018 and 2017, and organized the interfaith baccalaureate ceremony in 2019. And I enjoyed many hours volunteering for various outdoor education trips and in the classroom when our kids were students in the district.

What do you see as the primary responsibility of the school board members?

The primary responsibility of a school board member is to act as a reasoned bridge between the community and the district. I use the word “reasoned” because as elected representatives, we need to be able to listen to all voices of our community, not only the loudest. I want to ensure we include the greater community in all decisions.

The second responsibility is to keep the mission and vision of the Board of Education (BOE) first and foremost. Our mission is to educate every kid who comes in our doors. A board member needs to make clear decisions that stay true to this mission. This may involve disappointing some of the loudest voices.

The BOE’s role is not to micromanage. The Superintendent is the board’s only employee and they are to execute the goals and mission of the board. I will bring up issues from the community to the superintendent to address. Our teachers, staff and administration are professionals and the BOE needs to allow them space to do their jobs. I want to be a reasoned listener and try to bridge the needs of the community and the needs of the district.

Aspen School District Board of Education candidate Christa Gieszl is running for one of three open positions in the 2021 school board election.
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Name: Christa Gieszl

Age: 45

Family: Husband Bryan Gieszl; son in seventh grade, twin sons in fifth grade

Education: Bachelor of Science, Bowdoin College. Doctor of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Board-Certified in Internal Medicine. Fellow, American College of Physicians

Occupation: Primary care physician, Veterans’ Administration.

Years living within Aspen School District: Four and a half

Previous experience on boards and with nonprofits: Vice president, Pitkin County Board of Health, April to present (previously served as board alternate for six months). President of the Board, Girls on the Run of Western Colorado, 2018 to 2019 (previously served on the board for six years). President, Curecanti Medical Society, 2005 to 2006

Previous experience in the education sector: Co-Chairman, Aspen School District Accountability Committee, 2018 to present (previously served as member for one year). Member, Parent-Teacher Organization, Aspen Elementary School, 2018 to 2020. Member, Aspen Elementary School Accountability Committee, 2017 to 2020. Member, Aspen Middle School Accountability Committee, 2017 to 2019. President, Parent-Teacher Organization, Cottonwood Elementary School, Montrose, 2015 to 2016

What do you see as the primary responsibility of the school board members?

The school board should guarantee a quality education for our children while ensuring that the values of our community are respected. The past 18 months have made this challenging. Our children are at varying levels of education due to COVID-19 disruptions. Teachers have been working under great stress. And divisions have opened between health care workers and citizens, and between parents, administrators, and teachers.

As a board member, my priorities would be to ensure the excellent education of our children while working to heal these divisions. As a doctor and lifelong advocate for public health, a passionate believer in public education, and a mother of three children, I’m uniquely suited to operate in disparate worlds and to forge compromises. As co-chairman of the District Accountability Committee since 2018, I pushed to expand the International Baccalaureate program into all grades. As a doctor, I worked to secure free weekly COVID-19 testing for school staff and students, ensuring that in-person learning could happen safely, work that I continue as vice president of the Pitkin County Board of Health. As a mother, I understand the stakes — nothing less than our children’s future.

Aspen School District Board of Education candidate Stacey Weiss is running for one of three open positions in the 2021 school board election.
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Name: Stacey Weiss

Age: 65

Family: Married to Cliff Weiss. Our daughter attended Aspen School District from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Education: Bachelor of Music in Music Education. Master of Arts in Music and Theatre Education. Graduate certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration.

Occupation: Retired public school teacher.

Years living within Aspen School District: 28 years

Previous experience on boards and with nonprofits: Aspen Choral Society board; volunteer at Aspen Thrift Shop.

Previous experience in the education sector: Public school music teacher with 30-plus years experience, including 20 years at Aspen Elementary School. Independent piano teacher since 2001.

What do you see as the primary responsibility of the school board members?

The school board’s primary responsibility is to ensure that every child in the district gets the best education possible to enable them to reach their unique potential by providing the oversight that allows local control over a community’s schools.

As the link between the community and the school district, the board fulfills this responsibility by making policies, setting educational goals, overseeing the budget and approving curricula. The school board also hires the superintendent and holds him or her accountable for the management of the schools.

In order to achieve our common goals, the board should communicate frequently with the community and be attentive to the concerns of parents and staff. Finally, board members should set a positive and inclusive tone and strive to model cooperation and respectful discourse for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Aspen School District Board of Education candidate Anna Zane is running for one of three open positions in the 2021 school board election.
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Name: Anna Zane

Age: 41

Family: Married to Ed Zane, and we have four school-aged children: Ella, Eddie, Tommy and Emma

Education: Bachelor of Arts from Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania. Double major in International Relations and Business

Occupation: First and foremost, mother of four children. Small business owner: Zane’s Tavern.

Years living within Aspen School District: Born and raised in Aspen.

Previous experience on boards and with nonprofits: Volunteer for youth organizations, including Aspen Junior Hockey, Aspen Lacrosse Club, Aspen Swim Team and Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra. President of local homeowners’ association and served on vestry at Christ Episcopal Church. Appointed to the bi-partisan Judicial Performance Commission for the Ninth Judicial District where I’m serving my second four-year term.

Previous experience in the education sector: As a college student, I worked with inner city school children as part of the America Reads program. Parent volunteer in my kids’ elementary school classrooms in support of their teachers, including chaperoning field trips, organizing the 2017 fourth grade boys’ leadership lunch, volunteering for the parent-teacher association’s book fair. Ten years on the District Accountability Committee, including as co-chair from 2016-2018. Our work led to changes in district leadership. Ten years on School Accountability Committees (SAC) at the elementary, middle and high school levels; current co-chair of the high school SAC. Served on recent superintendent and principal hiring committees; served on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program Investigation Committee; worked toward the adoption of “IB for all” programs. Founding member of the Aspen Parent Action Committee, a parent group focused on improving climate and culture of the district.

What do you see as the primary responsibility of the school board members?

The board’s greatest responsibility is to ensure all students receive a high-quality education that prepares them for their post-high school ambitions. This means ensuring that all students have access to education professionals who are trained and resourced to help them advance based on their unique circumstances and talents. Therefore, school board members have two main jobs: 1) to set policies that guide administrators toward the fulfillment of district goals, and 2) to employ and oversee a superintendent who manages district operations toward the fulfillment of the board’s goals and vision.

In addition to being accountable to the local community, school boards are also accountable to the state. Under Colorado law, school board members are charged with overseeing educational programs, budgets, transportation, salaries, school calendars and other employment matters.

Having been immersed in our educational system — as a parent, classroom volunteer, and accountability overseer — I’m well-positioned to lend my accumulated knowledge and expertise to the fulfillment of the board’s mission to provide an excellent education to all students. Because our students and community are healthier when parents, teachers and administrators work together, I will strive to ensure that our education system is transparent, accountable and accessible to all stakeholders.

Aspen School District Board of Education President Susan Zimet is the sole incumbent running for one of three open positions in the 2021 school board election.
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Name: Susan M. Zimet, MD

Age: 59

Family: Two sons who graduated from Aspen High School (Max, class of 2010, and Michael, class of 2012), and husband Millard

Education: Harvard class of 1984; Columbia Medical School class of 1988

Occupation: Aspen Internal Medicine physician, 1991-2021

Years living within Aspen School District: 30

Previous experience on boards and with nonprofits: Chief of Medicine, Aspen Valley Hospital. Physician to Aspen Music Festival. Violinist, High Country Sinfonia. Board member, AIDS Aspen Cares. Red Cross Instructor, Guatemala. Ride for Life (transcontinental bike ride for hunger awareness).

Previous experience in the education sector: Chair, co-chair and treasurer of the Aspen District Accountability Committee; chair, Aspen Middle School Accountability Committee; member of the Aspen School Board, elected 2017.

What do you see as the primary responsibility of the school board members?

The primary responsibility of a member of the Aspen school board is to make sure all our kids get a good education. To be sure, there are a lot of adult stakeholders in the school system who are important, as well as a great deal of money involved and a fiduciary responsibility to spend those dollars wisely. So I don’t mean to downplay these issues.

But for me, it’s fundamentally about the kids. I was active in guiding my sons through the Aspen education system, and ran for the school board four years ago to give back to the community.

Because there are a lot of constituents in the school system, and a lot of shiny baubles that can distract us, I feel it is important for a school board member to have the education of our children first and foremost in mind.


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