Erik Gammell, a member of the community since 2012, says he feels a sense of duty to be an active participant in ensuring that South Pasadena schools remain the heart and soul of the community as one of the underlying reasons why he will be seeking a seat on the local Board of Education in November.
“As a parent of two elementary school children, I believe I can help our district meet the historic challenges of this moment,” he said in announcing his election bid. “To do so, we will need to be thoughtful, dedicated, and agile over the months to come.”
In March, campuses throughout the state closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, rushing to put distance learning into place. With a surge in cases continuing, schools like those in South Pasadena will return to online instruction beginning in August when fall classes start.
“I believe a pragmatic, flexible approach that relies on community input and the best interests of our students will provide us a path for successfully navigating these challenging times,” explained Gammell. “I have always been the person that volunteers, helps in any way I can and will go the extra mile for people. I feel a sense of duty to work as hard as I can to ensure that our district and our children continue to thrive, especially in this difficult environment.”
He’s confident he can help the district meet what he calls “the historic challenges of this moment and ensure that our students continue to thrive,” adding, “To do so, we will need to be thoughtful, dedicated, and agile over the months to come. Our current board has worked hard to put us onto solid ground. I want to build on that legacy, and I believe my years of strategic leadership across non-profit organizations has prepared me to consider the difficult choices ahead as well as embrace the opportunities we might find in the midst of adversity.”
Two school board seats held by Jon Primuth and Suzie Abajian are up for election in November. Primuth has announced he will be coming off the board while hoping to win a seat on the City Council at the same time.
Gammell has been an active volunteer in the district, especially in his children’s classrooms, along with providing support at a wide range of school events and in the community since his family moved to town. He has served on the Arroyo Vista PTA Executive Board for the past four years, coached youth soccer, is a member of the AYSO Board of Directors and of the D.U.D.E.S – Dads Uniting Dads in Education and Service – a group of good-natured and helpful guys who go out and make the community better for South Pasadena kids and neighbors through service projects, fundraisers, and community building events.
After receiving his MBA from Pepperdine University, Gammell began a career in the for-profit sector before shifting into non-profits as the national director for REACH-A-Child, a non-profit based in Madison, Wisconsin, which supports first responders who comfort children in a time of crisis.
Since moving back to Southern California with his wife and children more than eight years ago, Gammell continues to consult in the non-profit field and serve on multiple organizations, including the Connecticut College Alumni Association board of directors, his undergraduate alma mater.
In moving to Southern California, Gammell’s family sought out an area with good public schools and a strong sense of community. “From the moment we moved in, we knew that South Pasadena was exactly the place we wanted to raise our family,” he said, praising, like so many, the high educational system. “Our schools have long been a sense of pride for our entire community and we need to make sure they remain that. We need to ensure that we are preparing our children for life in the 21st century, we need to look at what additional community resources can be tapped into and we need to bring together our whole community to make sure that everyone’s voice is not just heard but valued. Without listening to parents, students, teachers, administrators and the community at large, we cannot rise to the challenges that face our district. I look forward to serving our community as a member of the SPUSD Board of Education and working to guide our district to success through these rapidly evolving times. I value public education and will work to improve the district.”