Local businesswoman Adelaida Severson was named Wednesday as the newest member of the Gilbert Unified School District governing board.
Severson was one of 13 applicants, and the nominee selected Nov. 5 by a district team to fill the position Van Dunham vacated Nov. 11. Dunham is moving out of the district to help care for his wife's parents.
"I'm really excited. Now the work begins," said Severson, 44, who has three sons in the district. "I'll start rolling up my sleeves."
Severson is the president and co-owner of Bushtex Inc., an adjunct lecturer at Arizona State University, a co-founder of the Parent Legislative Network and vice president of the Gilbert Education Foundation Board.
She applied for last year's school board vacancy and also ran last year for a board seat.
Severson was chosen by Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools Donald Covey to fill the vacancy. She received a call from his office at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Gilbert board president Thad Stump said he's happy Covey chose the district's "first-place nominee." He said Severson stood out because of the "demonstration of her commitment to the district."
"She's deeply involved, and she did run for the office previously," Stump said. "Those types of factors certainly attributed to why the team would bubble her to the top to be the first choice."
Severson will be sworn in as a Gilbert board member at Covey's Phoenix office at 11 a.m. Monday and will attend her first Gilbert board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday. She'll fill the spot until December 2010, when Dunham's term ended, and will have to run again in November if she wants to stay on the board.
"I'm really humbled by the fact that I was chosen by our district leaders," Severson said. "Here we go. I'm excited and hope I can offer whatever expertise I can to the district."
A district team consisting of Stump, Superintendent Dave Allison and Gilbert Education Association president Jo Bell interviewed the candidates. They selected Severson as the nominee and Debra Carr and Steve Trussell as alternates.
"I felt like I was going through some Supreme Court confirmation," Severson joked. "Now the waiting is over and I'm ready to dig in."
Severson, Carr and Trussell attended a four-hour nominee seminar Saturday, along with Stump and Allison. The seminar provided prospective board members with presentations on responsibilities of a board member and the state's financial situation.
"It was really interesting because I got to meet other prospective board members," Severson said. "It was a very interesting process. I got to learn the different angles of what it means to be a board member."
This is the first year Covey has implemented new rules for selecting a board member to fill a vacancy. The new rules put more of the responsibility on the district to choose.
Severson has a doctorate in public administration from ASU, an international broadcast journalism master's degree from ASU, and bachelor's degrees in broadcast journalism and international relations from the University of Southern California.
Severson's three sons attend Ashland Ranch Elementary School. Lars is a fifth-grader, and Brock and Swen are second-graders.
Her husband, Barry, is the co-owner of Bushtex.