Meet Tanya

About Tanya

I am a mom of two, the wife of a school teacher, a business professional, and a community volunteer. I am currently utilizing my professional experience to serve as a Brooklyn Park Budget Advisory Commissioner.

Simons Family-3

I grew up in Bemidji, MN. I am the proud daughter of two amazing parents who made me who I am today. My dad was a navy veteran and truck driver, devoting himself to providing for our family. My mom immigrated to the US from Mexico as a young adult, raised us as a stay at home mom, and lived out her own career dream as a Head Start teacher. My parents instilled in me the confidence and courage to purse my dreams – and are still doing so today.

As a young person, I began to live out my dreams, attending the University of Minnesota on an academic scholarship and earning a place on the school’s Big Ten cross country team. I graduated from the Carlson School of Management with a degree in Accounting and later my Masters in Business Administration. I have been blessed to have a fantastic eighteen-year career in finance, internal consulting, and continuous improvement at a Minnesota-based Fortune 500 company.

I’ve always had a passion for children of all ages. As a college student, I served as as a resident advisor for the University of Minnesota’s youth LEAD Program in Business. Shortly after college, I became a track and cross country coach for Saint Paul Public Schools, coaching an amazing group of student athletes for several years. Now, I serve the kids of my local community through volunteering in the children’s ministry of my church. I also engage in my community as a Budget Advisory Commissioner, Board Member of Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County, and Rotary Club member in addition to many individual volunteer activities.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my personal and professional story to help “My Kids” become confident in their own stories and abilities. I believe that we all have our own stories to share and that when we share our stories with one another, we realize that we have the same shared goals for ourselves and for our kids. While our journeys and stories may be different, we can choose to come alongside one other to reach our goals as a district and as a community.

Candidate Background Statement Submitted for Education MN Endorsement Process

Q: Please share your background with us. Include any organizations you belong to and any leadership roles you’ve held within those organizations.

I have had the unique opportunity to live, work, and serve in a variety of different communities and environments.  My professional background coupled with my personal and volunteer experience has enabled me to bring strategic and governance skill sets to the duties of the board, along with a heart and passion to serve kids.

Through a nearly eighteen-year career with local Fortune 500 company, I have developed leadership and strategic decision-making competencies.  My educational background in finance, my corporate leadership experience, and my technical skill in continuous improvement will help me to make strategic policy decisions that are aligned to the district’s mission and that will produce results for our students.  In my role as a recruiter for my organization, I have a deep awareness of the skills and competencies our students require today and will require in the future to be successful as members of a global workforce. I will use this external perspective and awareness as I serve in a role to equip and prepare our students for the future.  As a board member, I will hold myself accountable to achieving successful outcomes for each student in our district. I will seek to shape policy that is linked to clear and measurable results and will support initiatives that test and pilot innovative ideas to continually learn and improve our educational programming.

My experience as a Brooklyn Park Budget Advisory Commissioner has provided me with practical experience in a governance role.  In this role, I critically evaluate budget and resource decisions and I have built positive working relationships with city staff and leaders.  I have developed a strong understanding of government funding and spending complexity, as well as how funding streams inform strategic investment decisions. I have enjoyed leveraging my professional experience to add value to the commission’s discussions and evaluations.  My background has enabled credible and trusting relationships with the city’s finance director and city manager as I’ve engaged to learn the similarities and differences in corporate versus government budgeting and policy processes. As I serve on the Budget Advisory Commission (BAC), I also understand my governance role as oversight and advisement versus intervention with staff operation.  Understanding this distinction has been important to my ability to work effectively with city staff members who regularly communicate to and interact with the BAC. As a board member, I will continue to leverage these skills and will build effective relationships with and support for district leadership and stakeholders as they execute the district’s mission each day in each classroom.

Finally, as a high school track and cross-country coach in Saint Paul and children’s volunteer in my church, I have learned that the greatest impact I can make to the success of a student is through my relationship with him or her.  My experience has shown me that every single student can achieve success and that each student’s story is unique.  My athletes developed a sense of courage and confidence not because of my training plan, but because I demonstrated care for them as individuals and confidence in their capability to achieve success.  In my volunteer activity, my athletes and students engaged, put forward their best effort, and reaped the benefits of their effort because of the relationship we built together.

While school board members may not have the day to day opportunity to interact with students, the board’s decisions and duties directly impact student experiences and outcomes.  If appointed to the board, I will bring forward the full breadth of my professional and volunteer experience and I will strive to use my skills and perspective in service to district stakeholders, the community, and the students.

Organizations & Roles

  • Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County – Board Member Appointed 2018
  • Brooklyn Park Budget Advisory Commission – Commissioner Appointed 2017
  • Girl Scouts, Parent Volunteer, 2017-2018
  • Grace Community Church, Brooklyn Park – Sunday School Teacher, Women’s Ministry Volunteer
  • General Mills Hispanic Network, Current Member, Past Steering Team Member
  • General Mills Finance People of Color Network – Co-led Creation of organization 2015, Member
  • General Mills Women in Leadership – Development Series Committee Member 2014-2016
  • Saint Paul Johnson High School Track & Cross-Country Coach – 2004-2009

Candidate Statement Submitted to Press & News

As a proud first generation American, I understand the opportunity for success that a strong school district provides for its students; and as a city commissioner, I understand the value that it provides for our entire community.  My core beliefs that all students are capable of successful outcomes and that a financially and academically strong school district is essential for community development, fuels my passion to serve as a school board member.  Today our students are facing an increasingly competitive global environment and we must continue to build on our rich curriculum offerings to ensure they are at the top of the global class.  This includes enhancing language options earlier to better equip our students for future skill requirements and strengthening enrichment and career opportunities. As we consider the jobs of the future, we can build on technology curriculum and integration to increase our students’ preparedness to work with technology and to embark on technical career paths.

In addition to accelerating our strengths, we must also address our opportunity areas. As areas of our district grow, wise short-term and long-term investments and decisions are essential to managing class sizes and building infrastructure.  Further, we have some schools performing below 50% proficiency and like many districts across the state, struggle with an achievement gap issue. We need to continuously examine our academic interventions and transplant learnings of what is working while divesting from initiatives that are not yielding results. We are making progress in many growth measures and can build on that success for improved outcomes. Finally, many stakeholders are expressing concerns around safe and effective school environments. We need to listen to teachers and administrators, providing them with the tools and support structures they have asked for and we need to listen to parents and students to ensure our policies are effective, clearly communicated, and appropriately applied.

I am a sixteen-year district resident, the wife of a teacher, a mom of two, and a children’s volunteer in my church. I have worked with youth throughout my life as a Big Sister, high school track and cross-country coach, and mentor.  I have engaged with young people across many different age groups and communities. I received my BSB in Accounting and MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and have enjoyed an eighteen-year career at a local Fortune 500 company across the fields of Finance and Continuous Improvement.  I currently serve my community as a Brooklyn Park Budget Advisory Commissioner, Rotary Club Member, and Board Member of the Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County.

My combination of personal, community, and professional experiences have given me a unique lens to understand the perspectives of all district stakeholders. As a board member, I will bring my passion for youth and my skill set to ensure our district delivers an education that places our students at the top of the global class, achieves meaningful progress in closing the achievement gap, and maintains solid fiscal stewardship.