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Meet Valley Voters For Education's Cliff Brown
Trading cowboy boots for rain galoshes, Cliff Brown, current chairman of Valley Voters for Education, uprooted his family six years ago from their hometown of Houston, Texas, to come to the vastly different climate of Snoqualmie.
With no extended family in the area besides his wife and two daughters, Brown found his calling in the community after becoming involved with the Snoqualmie Valley School District.
Formerly working for The Kroger Co., owner of QFC and Fred Meyer chains, Brown snatched the opportunity when an opening for a construction director became available, transferring him to the Valley.
Settling into the community in 2004, the following year Brown and his wife Leslie decided to become involved in schools, and began volunteering at Cascade View Elementary School.
Moving his way up the volunteer ladder, Brown became president of the Cascade View Elementary PTSA. There, he realized he had the talent to blend his professional experience and interest in schools to communicate the district’s needs. Brown began volunteering and took charge of Valley Voters For Education’s mailings, rounding up many friends and associates to help volunteer.
Valley Voters For Education is a grassroots, non-profit group of parents and concerned citizens in the Snoqualmie district who work together to promote and enhance education through responsible taxation.
Members organize and run campaigns for local school bond and levy elections, such as the proposed maintenance and technology levies on the Feb. 9 ballot.
Geoff Doy, previous VVFE chairman, and Snoqualmie Superintendent Joel Aune approached Brown last year. Doy, who had planned to run for the school board, and Aune saw Brown as a fit replacement in the chair spot.
Currently juggling his position as VVFE chairman with a job as Safeway’s director for construction in four states, Brown enjoys being able to mix his work experience with his passion for schools.
“I really like the direction that the school district was and is going,” Brown said. “I like their goals and what they’re trying to achieve.”
As chairman, Brown likes staying active and close to school involvement, to help the district meet its goals.
“I see parents who aren’t active. They’ve got their reasons,” he said. “I’m not against a parent who’s not involved, but I don’t think they’re allowed to be apathetic and upset when they don’t like where something ends up.”
Brown said maintenance and operations levies are pivotal to the districts’ day-to-day operations. But to him, the technology levy is even more important.
“We need to make sure that the inspiration and the way kids learn is contemporary to tomorrow’s terms, not yesterday’s terms,” he said. “Younger people thirst for today’s technology. If you go buy more of yesterday’s means, like dry erase boards and chalk, there’s a place for that — but I don’t think it’s more engaging for tomorrow’s learners.”
Asked where he sees himself in the district’s future, Brown said he’d like to stay involved but does not want to become an overbearing parents who’s always in the hallway.
“Naturally, you need to give your kids space to grow,” he said. “Their attitudes about you and your place in their life changes when they get to be 12 to 18 years old.”
Brown speaks from experience — his daughters are now 10 and 12 years old, attending Cascade View Elementary and Snoqualmie Middle School.
“There’s a way to be involved, and yet still not affect them,” Brown added. “There’s a way to help schools out, and I’ll find my way through that.”