She wouldn’t have even considered it unless David Adelstein decided not to seek re-election, but when Julie Giulioni saw the opportunity she thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion this was something she wanted to pursue.
In a way, if elected she’ll be joining a school board many consider is already a well-oiled machine. But when Adelstein, the current Board of Education president, made the decision not to seek re-election in November it opened the door for Giulioni to seek the seat.
“I really feel like they have things under control,” said Giulioni, talking about the effective role current school board members play in the community. Giulioni believes she can add to the success of the South Pasadena Unified School District, which now boasts having five state Distinguished Schools.
“Our leadership, our teachers, our board…we’re in such great shape,” she said. “We’re building on an incredibly solid foundation. Of course, there are opportunities to take the district to new heights in the years to come.”
Important issues face the district, including implementation of the common core standards, and seeking additional revenue sources, which includes the possibility of the district headquarters’ parking lot being leased out for a development project.
“Although I hope the height of the financial crises is behind us, we are still going to have some tough decisions to make in terms of setting priorities, making sure we can take care of everything that needs to be done,” she said. “There are going to be some important leadership challenges ahead that I’d like to be a part of.”
Three seats are open in the November election. Incumbents Elisabeth Eilers and Michele Kipke have both indicated they will run again. Giulioni could automatically fill the third seat if she faces no challengers.
“Absolutely,” she said, when the suggestion was made that South Pasadena’s schools are on solid ground. SPHS recently earned the distinction as a state “Distinguished School,” joining the four other campuses in the district that have earned the high honor in recent years. “To have five schools performing at that level is just incredible,” noted Giulioni. “In the time that I’ve been an adult in South Pas, I don’t know if we’ve ever been in such great shape.”
Giulioni is a product of South Pasadena, going through the local school system, starting at Marengo, followed by the middle school when it was a junior high and later the high school.
“I firmly believe that the education I received here has provided me with a competitive advantage throughout my life,” she said, noting that her father worked two jobs in order for the family to reside in town. “It was so important to my parents that my brother and I get a good education.”
Today, she can’t imagine living anyplace else. Giulioni, married to her husband, Peter, for 20+ years, feels “very blessed to live here.” They have two children, Nick, a 2008 graduate of South Pasadena High, and Jenna, who is finishing up her freshman year at SPHS.
If she’s fortunate to land a seat on the school board, Giulioni believes she offers a unique perspective “from the inside out,” while explaining, “as a student, parent, volunteer, and as a volunteer leader. I’ve experienced the district from all sorts of different angles.”
Giulioni has been in PTA leadership roles at each of the three educational levels – elementary, middle school and the high school – and was active with the Booster Club and the South Pasadena Educational Foundation for six years, including two as SPEF president.
“In the process I’ve helped to raise a lot of money and connect with people across the community,” she said. Giulioni has also been a part of the inner workings of the school district, serving on budget, real estate, and search committees landing key personnel. In addition, Giulioni applied her administrative skills when she helped run summer school while serving as vice-president of SPEF and gained vast knowledge from the business side.
As an educator, Giulioni served as a high school teacher in vocational education for five years. She was also a department chair and professor at Woodbury University before taking on training, management and consulting roles over her vast career.
“So, I have the visceral experience and understanding of the role of both teachers and administrators,” said the school board candidate who sometimes gets questioned about her family background. With a last name like Giulioni, natural curiosity asks if she is related to the famous former mayor of New York. Actually, her husband, Peter, has ties to Rudy Giuliani. Peter’s grandfather and Rudy Giuliani’s grandfather were brothers.
“When they came through Ellis Island, one of the processors changed a vowel on one or the other,” explained Julie. “Either ours is the real spelling or his is.” One last name uses an ‘o’ and the other an ‘a.’ Jokingly, Julie thinks more people wonder if she is related to Patti Winkel, another active volunteer in the community. Julie’s maiden name is Winkle, spelled slightly different than Patti’s.
“More people might wonder if she and I are sisters,” Giulioni said laughing.
Whether or not an election is held, from now until November, Giulioni will be attending functions around town, convincing others that a school board seat has her name on it.“Fundamentally, I’m grateful to the school district, school board and community for what they do in support of education and I feel like this is a terrific opportunity for me to give back and be a part of it,” she said.
- : By Bill Glazier Review Editor