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Global-Minded Westport Mom Aims for School Board

WESTPORT, Conn. – As someone who has lived overseas for 12 years and works for an international company, Westport resident Jennifer Tooker sees things from a global point-of-view. This global perception is something this mother-of-three hopes to bring to the Board of Education .

Tooker, one of two Republican candidates running for the board, is the global manager of marketing and communications at Gen Re, a Berkshire Hathaway Co. that specializes in reinsurance. During her 20-year career, she spent 12 years in the United Kingdom, specifically London, where all three of her children were born.

Outside of her work, Tooker is the vice chairman of the town's Conservation Commission and is a member of Assumption Parish. As an avid soccer fan, she also coaches with the Westport Soccer Association .

Mom of King's Highway Elementary students Jack, 10, and Riley, 8, as well as 3-year-old Nicole, who attends Landmark Preschool, Tooker recently answered some questions about the upcoming election. The following are her responses.

Question: Why do you want to get involved with the Board of Education?

Answer: One of the clear priorities for the Board of Education is to ensure our children gain the skills necessary to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. As a global marketing executive, professionally I am operating in this evolving world every day. I have a unique perspective on what it means to be prepared for the global economy and what a leading-edge curriculum should contain. It would be an honor to contribute my knowledge to help develop our children for the future.

Q: What, to you, are the biggest issues facing the schools?

A: We have the challenge of maintaining, and improving, our high quality schools while managing the obvious budgetary pressures. Investing in our children's future and running a school system that is operationally efficient is a big issue for today and tomorrow. As a professional who has managed many budgets, while building out an operation for the future, I understand how important this is and how difficult this can be.

Q: Why should people vote for you?

A: My professional experience as a global marketing executive who has lived and worked overseas, and the perspective and skill sets that allows me to bring to the table would be an asset to the board. Equally important is my experience on the Conservation Commission. I understand how town commissions and boards work and how important it is to have a collaborative approach to decision-making. There are at least two sides to every issue and making sure we have a healthy environment to debate those viewpoints is important. I will be a strategic global thinker and thoughtful decision-maker.

Q: If you get elected, what do you want to help get accomplished?

A: I want to help manage one of our town's greatest assets - our schools - so we can provide the right education for every child in a sustainable cost environment. This is quite a challenge but one that I am eager to accept.

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