Speak UP extends its congratulations to Allison Holdorff Polhill, who has joined the staff of newly elected District 4 Board Member Nick Melvoin as Senior Adviser and Director of Community Engagement.
“I heard a lot from parents and voters, especially in the primary, that they wished they could have both Allison and me on the board,” Melvoin told Speak UP. “This seems to me like the perfect way to do that. She will be the first line of response when it comes to parent concerns.”
Polhill, who ran as a primary candidate for the BD4 board seat, most recently served as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach for Speak UP, where she was highly successful in convincing her primary supporters and parents at schools in Pacific Palisades to vote for Melvoin in the run-off.
“I am honored and thrilled to be working with Nick,” Polhill told Speak UP. “I am looking forward to seeing all the amazing things that he is going to do with LAUSD.”
In her new role, Polhill will advise Melvoin on high-level policy issues such as the budget, board governance and labor negotiations. She, along with a manager reporting to her, will also serve as the primary liaison to parents, community members, school leaders and staff at all of the schools in board district 4.
“Polhill has an incredible understanding of parent perspectives and concerns and will, no doubt, be a tremendous advocate for enacting a kids-first agenda,” said Katie Braude, executive director of Speak UP. “Speak UP welcomes her and looks forward to working closely with her as a liaison to LAUSD.”
Polhill, a mother of three children who attended public schools in board district 4, served for six years on the board of Palisades Charter High School, including a term as board chair. She also served on the boards of LAUSD elementary and middle schools in the Palisades.
During her tenure, she developed a reputation for being able to bring together disparate stakeholder groups -- parents, students, teachers, administrators, employees and community members -- to find solutions to issues. She also helped develop a governance model at Palisades High that she described as “laser focused on students.”
“From the very beginning, I have been a huge fan of Nick Melvoin,” Polhill said. “As soon as I lost in the primary I supported Nick because I thought it was imperative so that our kids and our families and our teachers would have a representative who really cares about them.”
During her time at Speak UP, Polhill called voters daily and knocked on doors, urging her primary supporters to vote for Melvoin. She also managed a team of parent leaders at Palisades schools that mobilized other parents to vote. Her efforts were highly effective. Melvoin won 75 percent of the vote in the Palisades, which also had the highest turnout in BD4.
“I really got to know Allison on the campaign trail, “ Melvoin said. “Then she pivoted so selflessly to help get me elected. I like the kind of team of rivals aspect of it. She was key to our success. It was helpful she endorsed, but she was also tireless knocking on doors. It just showed what a hard worker she is.”
With Melvoin and newly elected BD6 representative Kelly Gonez being sworn in July 6, parents are looking forward to a new kids-first board majority on the board. “What I appreciate about this new board is that they are supporting all models of education, and they appear to be completely student focused,” Polhill said.
“My top priority is to assist Nick in meeting his campaign platform: local control, autonomy, innovation, great choices for all families, human capital development and transparency – all of those things can improve the schools,” she added. “One critical way to do that is to be that person on the ground level talking with parents, administrators and teachers, understanding all the concerns and issues in board district 4. We will have a 100 percent open-door policy.”
Melvoin said he’s thrilled to have someone with the breadth and depth of Polhill’s experience at his side. “She’s worn a lot of different hats: mom, attorney, debate coach, parent volunteer, board chair. She’s negotiated budgets, she’s looked at facilities, she’s gone through reauthorization. She’s helped structure a governing board at Pali.”
“I am really honored and humbled that she came on board,” Melvoin added. “I think we’re going to be a much more effective office because she’s there.”