Beryl Brown Piccolantonio
Gahanna Board of Education
Beryl Brown Piccolantonio is running for reelection as member of Gahanna Board of Education. As the current board president, Beryl reviews all school policies and recommendations with an awareness of the impact on all faculty and students. She has also worked with her fellow board colleagues to hire more females to leadership positions in the district to ensure all faculty and students are represented. If re-elected, Beryl will continue to advocate on behalf of doing what’s best for all students and families.
In 2020 Beryl will continue her work as a Gahanna Board of Education Member.Website
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
I have lived and breathed politics, public service, and campaigns for as long as I can remember. I spent my childhood and young adulthood in parades, knocking doors, being a surrogate speaker on behalf of my parents, and working hard for many other candidates. After I finished law school and had my own children, I realized it was time for me to think about my own service to my community. I firmly believe we have the most direct impact on the culture of our communities in local public service. In 2013, my school district was in turmoil because board members were divided over a critical issue. I knew I could lead in a way that would bring board members together and focused on doing what’s best for students. I ran for election and came close, but was not elected. That experience was tough. Even though I’d been involved in many campaigns, I didn’t realize how personal an election could feel until I was a candidate. After allowing myself to process the loss, I became even more involved in the district. The turmoil on the board was only worse in 2015 when I ran a tough race and won. After I was sworn in, I was asked by my colleagues to lead the board as president, and they have asked me to continue to lead each year of my service. It’s incredibly fulfilling to know my service has made a positive impact on my community.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
I’m lucky to have two parents who are amazing models of public service. My dad first ran for election to our local school board when I was only a couple months old. During my childhood, I had the unique opportunity to benefit from the impact his dedicated and passionate service had on our community. I watched my mom first run for public office while I was in law school and remember feeling just in awe of her strength and courage – her call to service was so strong that she took a risk and left her job to answer it. Both of them are genuine, down to earth, smart and compassionate people who lead with a directness not always seen in politics. I felt the call to serve because I witnessed the positive impact their service made. I felt the courage to answer that call because I saw that they could serve and not just retain our family values but actually live them.
Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and leader?
I’m a mom and a lawyer which gives me the strength and compassion to be a good leader. I have helped people who are at their most desperate and I know in my heart that good public policy and leaders with integrity can change the trajectory of people’s lives. Being a mom provides me a personal reason to keep fighting even when it’s difficult – I want this world to be a better place for my kids. I’ve learned that life is difficult (incredibly so for some), but if someone is willing to listen, to fight, and to be creative, it is possible to make things better.
The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
I share that goal to see at least 50% of elected offices in Ohio held by women…not simply because I am a woman, but because I know our communities will be better when there are more women serving and making decisions. Our rules and policy structure cannot possibly reflect what’s best for the majority if the decisions are not being made by a representative sample of us.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
One issue our school district and every community faces is the increasingly complex needs of our students. Technology, increased demands on time and attention, economic pressures, and other factors mean that schools cannot solely provide academic education. Not all students have the same needs or will travel the same path after graduation. We must make sure that each of our students are prepared to become healthy, productive, contributing and successful adults upon graduation.
Another issue our public school districts face is the lack of an adequate and stable source of money to fund our schools. Public education is the gateway to equality of opportunity. If we fail our children, it impacts every aspect of our communities – the economy, crime, the environment, voter engagement, etc. We are still incredibly reliant on local property taxes as the major funding source of our budget which means there is a lack of equity across the state and means there are factors beyond the district’s control that cause fluctuation in funding. Long-term planning is difficult when there are unknown components in the funding formula.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I have worked in a lot of different settings doing a lot of different things, but my very favorite job was while in graduate school working as a server in a family-owned restaurant. I loved the fast pace and lack of down-time, the need to be able to quickly read and respond to a diversity of people, my need to rely on my memory and creativity, and my ability to make people happy by fulfilling a need. I got to know so many people with so many different stories and because it was a restaurant with a significant amount of regular customers, I had the opportunity to form life-long relationships.