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Chester County Press

Five compete for three U-CF School Board seats

10/22/2019 09:18AM ● By J. Chambless

By JP Phillips

Five of the nine School Board seats are on the ballot in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. 

Rashi Akki in Region A (East and West Marlborough) and Victoria Baratta in Region B (Newlin, Pocopson, and Birmingham) are running unopposed and, unless there is a robust write-in campaign, will join the board in December. Contacts: [email protected] and [email protected]


Region C (Chadds Ford and Pennsbury) has five candidates vying for three seats: Jen Brown, Steve Jones, John Murphy, Erin Talbert, and Jon Trigg.  Voters select three.


Jen Brown has lived in Chadds Ford Township for nearly five years.  Besides parenting, she cites her experience with various positions, mostly in pharmaceutical market research and commercial analysis.  She volunteers in the district and has served on the U-CF Wellness Council which spearheaded two important district programs (including the predecessor to “Safe2Say,” an anonymous tip line to report potentially dangerous situations). “The current board goals are well defined and focused in the right areas to maintain the high-quality education in our district,” Brown said. “To that end, I believe focusing on the long-range financial plan as well as evolving wellness initiatives will help us achieve the board goals.”  Contact information: [email protected].


Steve Jones is a U.S. Navy officer veteran who has lived in Chadds Ford for eight years.  He is an information technology architect for Fortune 100 firms, and has mentored hundreds of college graduates. Jones said that his motivation in running is to help improve student readiness for challenges in the workplace, college, or vocational programs of their choice. He supports sound financial management, maximizing the educational value of every dollar spent. In addition to educational improvements, Jones supports student wellness/social development initiatives that would keep students more connected to family, friends and teachers, and less connected to phones, devices and social media.  Jones said, “I would advocate for continued focus on academic excellence, which has made U-CF one of the top-tier public schools in the country." Contact:  [email protected].


Incumbent John Murphy, first elected to the board in 2015, is a veteran and has lived in Pennsbury Township for 14 years. He has extensive experience in the financial and legal services industries and is currently a project manager. He feels his analytical approach to solving problems, as well as his experience leading cross-functional teams and meeting project deadlines, helps the board. He notes that he is a parent and taxpayer, and takes those perspectives with him when considering board issues. “We must continue to achieve excellence while also being mindful of the community’s resources and ensure we are efficient with those resources,” he said. “Secondly, we must continue to focus on the mental well-being and coping skills of our students. Our students demand a lot of themselves, and we must ensure that they learn traits such as resiliency and grit, so that they can learn from their successes and their failures and ultimately succeed after they graduate.”  Contact:  [email protected]

Pennsbury resident Erin Talbert has lived in the district for almost five years. In addition to parenting experience, she cites her abilities to balance many stakeholders and her skills as a business consultant, advising clients on communications, strategy and change management. She said that her experience in marketing, contracting and sales at AstraZeneca helped hone skills in strategic planning, budgeting and people management which will benefit the board. “I’m committed to understanding and balancing the needs and concerns of students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and residents,” she said. “We all have stakes in providing our children with the best public education possible. On the school board, I plan to act as an informed, thoughtful and decisive intermediary, as well as foster increased understanding of diverse stakeholder interests. I also believe that the most important asset in the equation to deliver top-tier education is the teachers and staff that perform the daily task of educating and inspiring. To that end, I plan to prioritize hiring and retaining the very best teachers.”  Contact: [email protected]

Jon Trigg has lived in Chadds Ford with his wife, Timotha, for 34 years, and all four of their children attended U-CF schools K through 12. Trigg believes this experience with the school system will serve all stakeholders well. He additionally cites his 30 years of experience in organizational leadership positions, including running the Siemens One digital hospital business, and his current vice president position at a non-profit that focuses on improving healthcare quality globally. “Our schools are doing an excellent job preparing students for college, but we can do it more efficiently and even better,” he said. “Early literacy and improved writing skills development are key areas for added focus. We can also provide more foundational educational experiences that will advantage students well after graduation. This can include instruction and guidance in collaboration, time management, leadership, and practical financial and legal understanding.” Contact: [email protected]

Former board president Vic Dupuis, who is not running for re-election, spoke positively about his experience in a statement to The Chester County Press. “Certainly, the most important achievement of any school board is the hiring and retaining of an outstanding superintendent, and then working with that individual to build a strong team of administrators, faculty and support staff. Mission accomplished here with Dr. John Sanville and his outstanding organization. We have also worked together to develop fair and financially balanced budgets, including meaningful and productive labor contracts, through a very positive and responsive process with our faculty and staff. Finally, I believe we have set a new standard for future boards in terms of peaceful, consensus-building governance. We have sought to understand one another before seeking to be understood, and in so doing have often found consensus on issues and decisions that could have easily eroded our district into rancorous debate and disagreement.”

Dupuis also spoke about the other retiring board members, Bob Sage from Region B, and Carolyn Daniels and Gregg Lindner from Region C.  “Carolyn, Bob and Gregg all held various committee chairmanships, and for each, one was most significant. For Gregg, it was working with Rich Hostetler and then James Whitesel as chair of the Facilities Committee. For Carolyn, it was working with Ken Batchelor and then John Nolen as chair of the Curriculum, Education and Technology Committee. And for Bob, it’s been working with Justin Webb in the design and execution of our district technology plan and the Board Technology Committee.  All three played vital roles in these capacities, and worked very well with their administrative counterparts.”