Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Statement: School board candidate Gordon ‘passionate about ensuring that every student has the opportunities they need to thrive’

Editor’s note: This candidate statement was provided by school board candidate Darra Gordon. The Pelham Examiner publishes statements in the form received as a service to the community.

Dear Pelham neighbors and friends,

My name is Darra Gordon and I’m thrilled to announce my candidacy for Pelham Board of Education Trustee. I am running to contribute my two decades of leadership in the nonprofit and education sectors to serve our students and schools. Throughout my career, I have worked in team environments to drive excellence through transformative change, foster inclusive cultures, and build strategic coalitions. These are essential skills that would elevate the Board’s important work, complement BOE members’ current expertise, and advance the success and well-being of our children.

I have lived in Pelham since 2014 with my wife, Nicole, and our children Sienna, Lucy, and Nicolas. Some of you know me from my involvement with Pelham Children’s Theatre with my daughters or volunteering for the PTA, and you’ll often find me on the baseball fields at Glover, Franklin field or the basketball courts in the Middle School Gym with my kids. Given Nicole’s profession as a public school teacher, we did our homework identifying the right school system for our children, and Pelham was an ideal match.

I am running for BOE because I am passionate about ensuring that every student has the opportunities they need to thrive, and to center our children’s interests in every decision we make as a District. I want to lend my professional skills and talent as the BOE builds on our strengths through the implementation of a new strategic plan, as it considers how to best navigate the challenges our schools will soon face in areas like facilities, personnel, and finances, and as it embraces new opportunities that allow us to deliver a world class education to all students. Let me say a little about each of these areas.

Building on our strengths

As a seasoned visionary and strategic leader, I have consistently leveraged innovative strategies to achieve groundbreaking growth and operational excellence. My experience at GLAAD, where I serve as Deputy President & Chief Operating Officer, exemplifies my capacity to lead with purpose. In this role, I have spearheaded a period of unprecedented growth by implementing strategic planning initiatives that significantly expanded the organization’s reach and impact. If elected, I would bring these skills to the table to help advance the BOE and District’s efforts in delivering on strategic planning goals in ways that deeply engage and further unify our entire community. Pelham’s strength is its schools, and I am committed to growing that strength.

Navigating our challenges

Financial stability and smart growth have also been key facets of my leadership. At GLAAD, I engineered a financial strategy that secured long-term stability, achieving continuous revenue growth through impact measurement and fund development best practices. Currently, the limits of NY State’s tax cap have forced all school districts to stretch their dollars to the limit. The BOE has for the past few years relied on its reserves to lower the overall tax burden for residents. Like all of us, I am grateful for this, but it cannot be considered a long term fix. The rate of District expenditures is growing faster than that of its revenues. We also have significant facilities investments that can no longer be deferred without risking student success. We face a growing teacher shortage that will complicate our ability to recruit and retain top talent as a significant percentage of our dedicated faculty begins to retire. In partnership with fellow BOE members and the District, I would be excited to offer my professional experience to help identify long-term, sustainable approaches to resolve these challenges.

Embracing our opportunities

Throughout my career, I have established a proven track record of developing partnerships that open up new opportunities directly benefiting students and youth. In my work with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, I liaised with the Department of Education in support of HMI’s alliance with the lower Manhattan-based Harvey Milk High School, establishing cooperative policies and procedures to ensure student safety, wellness, and learning. Through my work with the Pearl Theatre Company, a classical repertory company, and at Literacy Inc. (LINC), an organization dedicated to helping children become stronger readers, I gained a deep appreciation for the importance of fostering diverse and inclusive educational and co-curricular environments that celebrate and uplift all students. These values would guide my efforts on the BOE, where I would champion initiatives that commit meaningfully in social-emotional learning and wellbeing for all students. Their importance runs deep in the fabric of my youth and adult life, and I give all thanks for that to my Mother, Dr. Kathy Gordon, who for decades served as a Director of Special Education. There are so many opportunities for us to grow stronger as a District in these areas, which also reflect key NY State Regents and Education Department priorities.

I am thrilled about the possibilities of collaborating as a BOE member with parents, educators, administrators, and community members to advance a shared vision for our District—one that prioritizes innovation, inclusivity, and excellence. Together, we can build a school system that not only meets the needs of today’s learners but also prepares them to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Thank you for considering my candidacy. I look forward to meeting in the coming weeks to learn more about the issues that matter most to you in this campaign, and to earning your trust and support.

Warm regards,


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  • C

    Carla CarrollMay 15, 2024 at 6:12 pm

    Dear Ms. Gordon, my child attended Harvey Milk HS and was fortunate enough to work with the counseling staff members at Herrick Martin. Your work there and the amazing leadership you’ve brought to GLAAD, are exemplary. Your addition as a Board of Education trustee would be a realgift to Pelham schools and students.

  • M

    Melissa EustaceMay 13, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    Darra’s commitment to excellence, her pragmatism, and her vast experience and integrity are exactly what we need to the Board of Education. I look forward to casting my vote for her, and so appreciate her willingness to commit the time and effort to take on this role for the community!

  • M

    Melissa LabonteMay 13, 2024 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you for running – your experience and background would be invaluable to the current Board and its work!

  • K

    Kristen WhalenMay 12, 2024 at 2:10 pm

    Thank you for running and putting our children’s success at the forefront!

  • S

    Suzanne SnyderMay 4, 2024 at 11:45 am

    Darra’s background is very impressive and her statement lays out concrete areas of focus that are relevant and timely to address the challenges of our district. You have my support.