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2 community leaders join Colorado Springs D-11 school board

August 10, 2016 Updated: August 10, 2016 at 9:04 pm
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Two young, high-profile parents of students in Colorado Springs School District 11 will join the board of the Pikes Peak region's largest school district.

Mary Coleman, Centura Health's manager of government affairs for Colorado and Kansas, and Shawn Gullixson, the retail market lead and vice president of Vectra Bank, will be sworn into office at a special meeting Monday. It starts at 4 p.m. at the district administration building, 1115 N. El Paso St.

Neither were at Wednesday night's board meeting, the first regular meeting of the new school year. Some of the other 12 candidates vying for two vacancies on the seven-member board were.

Board member Jim Mason told them they shouldn't feel bad for not being chosen because all of the applicants were top-notch.

"Each of the candidates was absolutely first-class and would have served magnificently, no question," Mason said. "We were charged with selecting who we thought best could take off today."

The five board members unanimously approved the nominations of both candidates.

Coleman is a person with "a very disciplined and engaging mind," said Mason, who nominated her.

"She's a person of energy who will bring to the board a perspective on 21st-century education challenges that we need to reach the next level," he said.

Board member Theresa Null said she was impressed with Coleman's background. Coleman, a graduate of Harrison High in Harrison School District 2, has served on several medical and hospital councils and the board of the Pikes Peak Library District.

"She's going to bring a level of professionalism we can really use," Null said.

Gullixson's volunteer work in the community was of particular note. A graduate of Mitchell High and the father of two children who attend D-11 schools, Gullixson has been involved with Colorado Springs Rising Professionals, the Mayors Young Leaders Awards Committee and the CONO Neighbor Up Week Committee.

"I'm hoping he will help us bridge the gap between the district and the community," said board member Elaine Naleski. "We need some people to really jump in there and speed up that progress."

Naleski said she also was impressed with Gullixson's insight into the importance of teacher retention and the culture of the district.

Thirteen candidates initially applied for two vacancies that were created last month after Linda Mojer and Martin Herrera resigned within weeks of each other, saying they were moving out of town.

Mojer's term ends in November 2017. Herrera was elected last November.

Both Coleman and Gullixson will serve until the November 2017 coordinated election, at which time they can run for their seats.

One candidate dropped out on Monday, the day of a public work session the board held to discuss the candidates.

Board chairwoman LuAnn Long said she was impressed by the caliber of applicants.

"It was not easy - we had some very strong candidates," she said. "It was quite refreshing."

Candidates applied, participated in an orientation session and made a pitch to the board in recent weeks.

Board members encouraged candidates who were not chosen for the seats to get involved on district and school committees and consider running for office next year.

"The campaigning and election process is not that cumbersome," said board member Nora Brown.

Herrera was the board's vice president. The board will elect a new vice president on Monday, after the new members take office.

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