By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
The Palisades Podcast returns this week with another episode recorded virtually—this time featuring an interview with LAUSD District 4 Representative Nick Melvoin and his Chief Advisor & District Director Allison Holdorff Polhill.
“Nick is the District 4 LAUSD rep who defeated Steve Zimmer in a high-profile election that garnered much attention for its ‘unlikely underdog beats establishment darling’ narrative,” Palisades Podcast host Maryam Zar explained ahead of the episode.
Holdorff Polhill, a Palisadian and former Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees president, ran against Melvoin—a lifelong resident of Brentwood with deep roots in the community.
“Eventually, she joined with Nick, as their values for fiscal responsibility and open communication were aligned, and won,” Zar continued. “The election was decidedly impacted by a new nonprofit called Speak UP, which was founded right here in the Palisades, and focused on involving parents and communities in the decisions and policies of the education board.”
Following the election, Holdoff Polhill became Melvoin’s senior advisor on community relations and spearheads outreach to area schools.
Melvoin holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s in urban education from Loyola Marymount University and a law degree from the New York University School of Law. He worked in the Obama White House with the Domestic Policy Council and the U.S. Attorney’s office, taking part in various civil rights investigations, Zar shared.
“Prior to his election, Nick led and facilitated efforts by students, parents, teachers and community members to rethink and shape the future of our city’s schools,” she said.
Holdorff Polhill most recently served as director of strategic initiatives and outreach for Speak UP. She is an attorney and mother of three children, who spent 18 years in public school governance at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
As a board member and now LAUSD board vice president, Melvoin has focused on increasing parent and community engagement, as well as making the district more transparent and accountable, Zar explained.
“He’s directed more resources to schools and—in keeping with campaign promises—dedicated resources to the most vulnerable students in the population,” Zar said. “A new spirit of partnership and collaboration at LA Unified has marked Melvoin and Holdorff’s tenure—with more involvement from community and unprecedented outreach to the communities and families.”
Zar explained that Melvoin and Holdorff Polhill are “uniquely positioned” to see LAUSD through the coronavirus pandemic, potentially fundamentally changing the way Palisadians see the role of school in modern times.
“We are thrilled to be able to talk to them this month, as LAUSD and its more than 600,000 students face its biggest challenge in modern history,” Zar concluded.
The Palisadian-Post has teamed up with longtime community members Zar and Steve Cron to present the Palisades Podcast. Each month, we will bring you an interview, hosted by Zar and Cron, highlighting extraordinary lives you might not otherwise have a chance to meet.
Previous guests include Anne Kerr-Adams, LAPD Captain Jonathan Tom, Steve Soboroff and Councilmember Mike Bonin.
To listen to this episode of Palisades Podcast and more, visit palipost.com/palipodcast.
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