A 35-year-old Ventura woman who worked her way through school as a single parent has been selected to fill an open seat on the Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees.
In an effort to give the board a new perspective on student issues, trustees voted 3 to 0 early Wednesday to appoint Karen Boone to the position vacated by former Trustee Gregory Kampf.
Boone, a mother of three and community volunteer, will be the only woman on the five-member panel when she takes office in July.
"She will be able to represent the needs of a growing component of students," Board President Pete Tafoya said. "She understands the trials and tribulations of going through school as a single parent, which many women are faced with."
Trustee Timothy Hirschberg added: "Karen will bring a voice to the board that wasn't represented."
Boone, who holds a bachelor of business administration degree from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, will complete the 2 1/2 years remaining on the term. Kampf resigned last month to take an administrative position at a school district in Northern California.
Boone said she decided to apply for the board because she wanted to give back to the community.
"I just want to help out where I can," Boone said. "I know the struggles of the single parent. . . . And I have a deep, heartfelt appreciation for education."
Although the board had the option of waiting until November to let voters decide who would succeed Kampf, trustees decided to appoint a replacement to represent Area 1, which covers Ventura, north Oxnard and other parts of western Ventura County.
Trustees said that by deciding the matter themselves, they would be able to save the financially strapped district from spending at least $17,000 on a special election.
Tafoya said officials were surprised by the interest in the position. He said their decision was not made easily.
Applicants for the job included:
Retired car dealer John Masterson; Paul Olmstead, an Oxnard College economics instructor; Mary Geb, a school counselor; Jeffery A. Tucker, co-owner of a collections agency; Alfred A. Artuso, former president of Santa Monica Community College; Steve Bailey, a Ventura Unified School District official; Fawn Parish, a free-lance writer; William Pardom, retired Ojai Unified School District administrator; Robert Leon Seecof, a physician, and Cliff Rodrigues, an administrator at the Ventura County superintendent of schools office.
"They were all fine candidates," Tafoya said.
Trustee Gregory Cole said that while he was impressed with some of the candidates' extensive backgrounds as school administrators and teachers, he wanted someone from outside the system.
"I think we should reach out to the community and get someone who can have a community perspective," Cole said. "We wanted someone special. We wanted someone unique."
Boone, who moved to Ventura from Michigan after remarrying four years ago, has volunteered for various community projects. In December, she organized an outreach ministry to take Christmas presents to 180 homeless, needy and handicapped people in Ventura.
While living in Michigan, Boone led a similar campaign for the Grand Rapids Urban League, where she worked as an account representative.
Boone has also worked as a sales specialist for a consulting firm in Michigan and a personnel assistant for Grand Valley State. She has three children, ages 13, 3 and 1.
The trustees said they appreciated Boone's candor in describing her difficulty in getting an education after the breakup of a marriage more than 10 years ago.
Boone told the board during her interview Tuesday night that she had to juggle her classes so she could work and take care of her baby. She scrambled to get scholarships.
Going back to school, Boone said, meant a new beginning for her and her daughter. She graduated with honors.