When Nestlé executive Joe Radabaugh retired this spring after 27 years with the company, he wasn’t looking to relax — he was looking for more opportunities to work and give back to the community he’s called home for the past decade.
In July, he applied for appointment to the La Cañada Flintridge City Council, which had a vacancy after the May passing of member Dave Spence. Although Radabaugh didn’t get the appointment, the process inspired him to get involved.
“[That] really got me into the mindset of serving at a higher level,” he said in a recent interview. “It fired up a lot of people who came my way and said, ‘If that doesn’t work out, we’d really like you to consider the school board.’”
Now, with daughter Ava and son Jackson in sixth and fourth grades, respectively, at Paradise Canyon Elementary School, the 48-year-old is running with four other candidates contending for three open seats on the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board in the Nov. 7 election.
Radabaugh moved to La Cañada with wife Tina in 2007 after receiving glowing recommendations of its schools from friends who lived there and found a “forever home” in the small community.
“We wanted so bad as a family to have an end-to-end experience — that’s a very powerful thing for us,” he said.
Radabaugh’s community service includes coaching and taking leadership roles with the La Cañada Baseball Softball Assn. and serving as co-den leader of his son’s Cub Scout pack. Since 2014, he’s served on the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation’s board of directors, which has given him insight into how the district functions.
“Those years have been a training ground,” he said. “It allows you to get to know members of the district and of the board. You start to see the cycles of the issues on a [deeper] level than you ever get to see as a parent.”
As a board member, Radabaugh hopes to bring his experience building and leading large teams and managing budgets to bear in district affairs. His priorities include focusing on the well-being of students, advocating for more state funding and overseeing needed capital projects.
He supports the $149-million Measure LCF, which would fund some of the rebuilding and renovation projects outlined by the district’s “robust” facilities master plan. Deciding what gets built with the bond and what has to wait will require some acuity on the board’s part.
“I think it’s really important we modernize our schools and make them commensurate with the quality of education we provide,” he said. “The board will have a heavy hand in the prioritization of those projects.”