Who is Mark?

I come from a family of teachers and preachers. My mother was a teacher and a school principal, my dad a pastor, and most of my aunts and uncles and grandparents were one or the other. Mom and Dad were feminists, peace activists, and strong advocates for public education and they raised me and my three siblings to value and practice service to others. 

We moved to Oakland in 1968 and I attended public schools here, graduating from Skyline High in 1975. I met my wife, Anna, when we both worked as aides at Thornhill Elementary School in a program designed to enhance literacy. I attended UC Berkeley before entering the MFA program at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. After finishing at ACT, I worked in various roles, leading to a career in technology as a product designer in the early days of the commercial internet. Our sons attended Oakland’s public schools before we moved out of Oakland in the mid 1990s, eventually settling in Illinois for several years.

Me and two of my four grandchildren, twins Safiyeh and Haytham, when they were still toddlers.

After a couple of decades working in technology, I felt a calling to follow in the family tradition and become a teacher, so I joined Teach For America as a corps member in 2010 and took a special education teaching position at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland. Returning to Oakland and working in this new role, I gained a new perspective on the challenges of providing a high quality public education in this city I love.

Leaving the classroom after my stint as a corps member I knew that I had to continue to work towards educational equity, and I took a role with Teach For America as a business analyst on their technology solutions team. A few years later I transitioned to my current role as a senior product manager at EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit focused on equity in digital access. As I continue to learn about the finance and equity challenges that Oakland Unified School District is grappling with, I know I can put my experience to work in service of this community. I earned a Certificate in Education Finance program from Georgetown University to get some additional expertise. In the fall of 2019 I announced my candidacy for the District 3 seat on the OUSD School Board.

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