Just saying … last year, during the Sacramento
Women’s March, I ran into a well-respected colleague, Zima
Creason. Zima was walking with friends and family. Yet she was
doing more than just joining the many women that day. She was
handing out her campaign t-shirts. Zima had decided to be one of
the many women who would change our political system. She was
campaigning to become one of the San Juan Unified School
District’s board members. Fast track to November through December
of 2018…they counted the votes and she WON! https://gem.godaddy.com/s/436a4d.
You may ask who Zima Creason is. She holds an MBA and is the
President and CEO of Mental Health America of California (MHAC)
and other organizations including The California Youth
Empowerment Network (CAYEN).
I decided to interview her about hope in the school district
where her new role is to shape policy and program and provide
oversight of the superintendent including their hiring and
firing. My questions and her answers are as follows:
1. As a school board member, how will you inspire hope
for students on campuses?
My primary duties and charge are to hire and fire the
superintendent and shape policy and programs that stay true to
our intent. I expect to hold the superintendent to policies and
programs that inspire hope for students. Another avenue of hope
is addressing gaps in communications about policy and programs on
My first questions are: what exists, where are the gaps, where do
we need more policies, and determine if the rollout of said
policies is being implemented and sustained according to their
original vision and intent. I want to make sure policies and
programs inspire hope and do not suppress people, especially
using the non-inclusive language. Policies and programs being
rolled out must foster hope.
2. How will you infuse innovation into schools?
First, see what policies are out there as good innovative work
has been done across the state. The California School Boards
Association has a lot of data to share [see https://www.csba.org/]. We also
should identify and see what has been implemented in other
We need more partnerships and collaborations with college
students as they are recent graduates and a great voice of those
with LIVED EXPERIENCE. We can assign them one of our issues and
see how they would innovate it using their recent experience as
We need to elevate community-defined practices and look to
stakeholders to define innovative practices that will support and
educate our students. The people should also be empowered to come
up with innovative ideas.
Once this is all done, we need to put true funding in place to
implement these innovations.
3. Are you open to influencing curriculum to include
mental health, so students can know what behavioral health is
about? Do you have any thoughts on how to do this? or What are
some evidence-based school curriculums you might
I will bring both state-level issues and solutions to the local
process and local issues and solutions to state processes. CAYEN
will help identify priorities and research other state solutions.
For instance, New York has passed a recent law – “Every Grade, Every Year” or Every
Student Succeeds Act, for their students and educators.
Although they may not have outcomes and data yet, we must watch
and review their implementation and see if we can duplicate it.
We need to empower youth with tools that educate, provide coping
skills, and support awareness about mental health. This will do a
lot of good; if we spend energy and money on the front end, we
will get better outcomes with adults, which helps students. Teach
empowerment through learning advocacy and understand that
All sectors need to come together to foster better outcomes
Parents and students in the district are the advocates and we
need a more organized approach to help them become advocates
I will partner with CAYEN to model advocacy and empower
communities to learn how to take part in change.
4. What are your thoughts on the many women who have
joined Congress? Are you thinking about that type of political
I am thrilled and inspired to see the new Congress. So, amazing!
We are finally seeing the diversity reflected in our communities
… leadership is getting there, but until this comprehensively
happens, we will keep seeing poor outcomes.
Although I don’t have the money of most successful politicians, I
am open to the possibility of a political future. Right now my
focus is on being a great school board member. Overall, during my
tenure, I want to build and leave a community of stakeholders who
know they have a meaningful role in this process. I want to leave
our youth/students with a better outlook on their future and have
successful outcomes [because … it’s all about that