As a family nurse practitioner and the solo parent of a middle schooler, I don’t find much time for politics. But I care deeply about Berkeley kids and the schools they attend, and I know my friend and neighbor Jennifer Shanoski does, too.

Jennifer’s running for a seat on the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education, and she’s just the kind of candidate who inspires me to get involved. Her work and commitment should inspire you as well.

Another busy professional and single mom, Jennifer has repeatedly shown that she’s committed to getting things done for Berkeley and its school kids. Her years as a community college professor and labor leader on campus make her ideal for helping BUSD face today’s challenges.

As a healthcare worker and parent, I couldn’t be more impressed by the care and energy Jennifer has shown in taking the lead on issues so crucial to the well-being and education of our kids. She knows from deep personal and professional experience how important public education is to all our diverse communities.

To help secure necessary resources for our schools, she co-chaired the 2020 campaign for Measures E, G, and H. She worked tirelessly to get the word out to voters and build coalitions to ensure Berkeley kids get what they need to succeed.

During the pandemic, she coordinated grocery deliveries to BUSD families, distributed PPE to Berkeley’s unhoused community, and helped set up a vaccine clinic for frontline workers. She also worked closely with parents, teachers, staff and administrators to get COVID-19 testing protocols in place, and facilitated discussions among all district stakeholders about the return to in-person learning.

And Jennifer’s focus, drive and unmatched organizational skills allow her to do all this valuable community-building work even as she raises two BUSD kids by herself, teaches chemistry, and fights for working families.

During some of the darkest days of lockdown, Jennifer and I would meet to walk our pandemic puppies. We’d talk — 6 feet apart, a little nervous — about what we could do to make things better for our families and communities. Jennifer always stressed the concrete steps we could take to get us all through: put computers into the hands of BUSD students on the wrong side of the digital divide; check in with neighbors to see that they had food and medicine; provide folks with science-based information so they could make the right choices about how to stay safe and healthy (something her Cal Ph.D. gives her real authority to do).

Her optimism, amazing energy, desire to get things done and no-nonsense practicality really gave me a sense of how to keep moving ahead. And they also showed me what an effective leader Jennifer is.

These are among the reasons I’m voting for Jennifer Shanoski for the BUSD school board. That she’s also an excellent baker, a seasoned marathon runner, and a generous neighbor and friend points to a few other qualities I think will make her a major asset to the board and our students.

Please join me, the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, the Alameda County Democratic Party, the Alameda Labor Council, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, and the many other endorsers listed at in supporting Jennifer’s campaign to give all Berkeley kids the schools they deserve.

Lili Tom is a family nurse practitioner/PCP in Adult Family Medicine at Kaiser Permanente and the solo parent of a Berkeley Unified middle schooler. She lives in Berkeley.

The deadline to register to vote online or by mail in Alameda County is Oct. 24, and the election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. We put together a guide to the essentials of how to register and vote, what’s on the ballot, voters’ rights and more.

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