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Melissa Dholakia for schools

As an entrepreneur focused on launching, building and scaling pioneering companies, I know the importance of innovation in growing our workforce and local economy. This is what has powered my previous careers in technology and venture capital, is driving growth for Riff Cold Brewed and will continue to increase new businesses and jobs in Central Oregon. That is why I support Melissa Barnes Dholakia for Bend-La Pine School Board, Zone 6.

Melissa has 25 years of experience in innovative education that she will bring to this board — as a teacher, principal and administrator, board member, and in her own business advising principals and superintendents. Her focus has been on school models that connect the classroom to the world, building career connections for students starting in kindergarten and continuing through graduation. Notably, she has done this work in some of the most underserved communities in our nation and changed the trajectory for these students and families.

Her work has received — and continues to receive — state and national recognition. The school district she helped build and lead starting in 2003 is featured on the website “Getting Smart” as one of the top 100 schools in the nation worth visiting for its Maker Education program and dissemination work in support of Next Generation Science Standards.

I have known Melissa, her husband, Sanjay, and their family since they moved to Bend five years ago. I encourage you to vote Melissa Barnes Dholakia for Bend La Pine School Board, Zone 6.

Steve Barham


Vote for Dholakia

As the executive director of Cascade School of Music, I know the value of arts education in developing student passions and pathways. I also know what it takes to lead and grow nonprofits that benefit our community. I support Melissa Barnes Dholakia for Bend-La Pine School Board, Zone 6 for both of these reasons.

Melissa joined our board in 2014, serving as president for four years, during which she took the school through significant growth and transition: our school enrollment and revenue over doubled in size, our community outreach and tuition assistance programs significantly expanded, we moved to a new home, and we transitioned leadership when our incredible founder of 15 years stepped down. Melissa brought her deep leadership and board experience to bear for our school through each of these step and works tirelessly to ensure we meet our mission of enriching our community by providing exceptional music education and experiences for ALL Central Oregonians.

She has long been an advocate for our community outreach programs, including our Awesome After School Orchestra Programs at Bear Creek and Silver Rail elementary schools in Bend-La Pine, our Kindermusik at Mountain Star Relief Nursery, as well as our youth music program at the Boys and Girls Club of Bend. Melissa truly understands the need for arts education as part of a well-rounded education — and given her commitment to equality, wants to see this access expanded.

Please vote Melissa Barnes Dholakia for Bend-La Pine School Board, Zone 6.

Robert Lambeth


Support Melissa Dholakia

If you are a concerned citizen who believes in promoting inclusivity and agency for the children of our community, please check the box for Melissa Barnes Dholakia. Election Day is Tuesday, May 21, by 8 p.m. It is vitally important to complete your ballot and deliver it to a drop box. Skip the mail at this point!

I first met Melissa at a forum hosted by Embrace Bend. She stood out above the other candidates, with her experience and enthusiasm for creating a better Bend.

Whereas Mike (Way) and Richard (Asadoorian) are retired educators, Melissa is still in it on a day-to-day basis as a working professional, community volunteer and mother of two children in the Bend-La Pine Schools. She has 25 years of experience working in schools, including roles as principal and numerous administrative roles.

Melissa has instituted effective programs for leveling the playing field for children in communities where disparity loomed large.

There is great disparity in Bend between those who have, and those who have not.

The disparity is starkly divided along racial lines.

Melissa has the experience to make real change in our schools. She is pro-students, families and educators. She has clearly articulated her vision for our school system, something I have not heard from her competitors.

Join me in voting to ensure the stability of the future by casting your vote for Melissa Barnes Dholakia for the board of directors Zone 6 at Bend-La Pine Schools.

Anita Henderson