MARYSVILLE — Kristen Michal, a longtime local volunteer and former federal legislative assistant, will join the Marysville School Board later this month.
Board members unanimously selected Michal from a pool of seven applicants to fill a vacancy left by Katie Jackson’s resignation. Jackson resigned Nov. 7 for personal reasons.
Michal, 54, currently serves on the City of Marysville Planning Commission. She started her career as a legislative assistant to Republican Slade Gorton in the U.S. Senate, where she focused on health, labor and education policies, she said.
Her resume also includes time as director of federal relations for the Washington State Hospital Association. In that role, she tracked healthcare legislation and regulations and lobbied for measures the organization had endorsed.
“I understand how policy is made. I understand working with different sides that have different opinions and coming together to get some sort of a solution,” Michal told The Daily Herald in a phone interview.
For about a decade, she worked as a consultant with Washington 2 Advocates, a Bellevue-based company that helps companies with lobbying, communications, public affairs and leadership training. In 2016, she stepped back from the “work world” to dedicate more time to her children, she said. Now her professional title is “chief problem solver” at home, she joked.
Michal, a mother of two Marysville graduates and one high school junior, said she has logged “hundreds of hours volunteering in schools.” All of her children participated in the district’s co-operative education program that requires parents to volunteer at least two hours a week in the classroom at Marshall Elementary School.
“One of the things that really has been such a blessing is that I’ve had the chance to see firsthand the care and professionalism of staff, from our paras and our teachers to the secretaries at our schools,” Michal said.
Michal has also been critical of the district’s response to racist incidents in the past two years.
As a school board member, Michal wants to “highlight some of the good things happening in Marysville, because I think sometimes there is a perception gap.” She acknowledges that there are “areas where we need improvement.”
“We have a levy facing the voters on Feb. 14, and it’s a big, big deal for our district,” she said. “It fills the funding gap between what the state funds and what our district needs. When we are talking about improving student learning, (the levy) helps pay for those paraprofessionals that are the ones that sit down and work with the kiddos that are having challenges.”
She’ll be sworn in for the next regular meeting Feb. 6.
Mallory Gruben is a Report for America corps member who writes about education for The Daily Herald.