Read More About the Candidates for the LSAT and HSA

Read more about the LSAT and HSA candidates below. Voting begins May 10.
Here are the LSAT candidates:

Patricia Balestra
Hi! I’m Patricia Balestra, mom to 5th and 2nd graders Benjamin and Ana Huggins. Both of my children have been at Lafayette since kindergarten.

I am seeking your vote for the LSAT so that I can continue serving and representing parent voices. This year was my first year on the LSAT and I feel that I now have knowledge that will help me in my second year. 

During our years as a Lafayette family, I have volunteered in many different capacities: room parent, chaperone, Fall Festival, Book Fair, and auction. I’d love the opportunity to work on the LSAT again!

I’ve been a teacher since 2001, working first as a high school teacher and currently teaching middle school and college. I feel that I have a unique perspective as both teacher and parent and would like to use that viewpoint to help guide Lafayette in the next few years. I look forward to the opportunity to make Lafayette the best it can be!

Rebecca Hekman
My name is Rebecca Hekman.  I am “mommy” to first-grader Eloise Hekman and rising PK4 student Jolene Hekman (and wife to Annalisa Synnestvedt, who Lafayette folks are more likely to know than me).  We have lived in the neighborhood for 5 years now and consider ourselves lucky to be part of this community. 

My day job is as a litigator for the Department of Commerce Office of the General Counsel.  Before I went to law school, my first career was in nonprofit fundraising and operations.  Besides Washington, DC, I have also lived in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Budapest and The Hague. 

Amongst family and friends, I am known for my love of cats and my amateur pizza-making skills, the latter honed during the past two years of work-from-home.  (According to Eloise, I am sufficiently skilled to work at Little Beast – a potential third career.)  I would be honored to serve on the LSAT.

Kirsten Keefe
Hi, Lafayette Families! What an amazing community to be involved in — and I look forward to creating even more connections over the next school year. I’ve been a member and Co-Chair of this year’s LSAT and am interested in serving our community for another year. We’ve been a Lafayette family for more than a decade, with two alumna and our daughter who will be a 5th grader next year.

I admire the school’s values, arts integration, commitment to diversity, and love having the school at the heart of the neighborhood. I’m a lawyer by training and focus my practice on building and maintaining compliance programs across a variety of regulatory regimes.

I would love to serve on the LSAT next year for many reasons: to build on the good work and partnership of the current LSAT, to focus on parent and community input into curriculum and budget guidance, and to ensure we take a community-wide and long-term view of annual school decisions.

Thank you for considering my application and I hope I will have the opportunity to be responsive to your family’s needs next year.

Arjun Mody
Hailing from northern New Jersey, with stops in Philadelphia for college and Phoenix for law school. Arrived in Washington, DC, and went to work against illicit drugs. Fifteen years ago, played a small part in the success of lowering youth drug use 25 percent.

Since then, have worked on the Senate Armed Services Committee, supporting military personnel; a global non-profit advocating for the world’s poorest people in sub-Saharan Africa; and at a boutique strategy and consulting firm advising coalitions and businesses. I currently lead a disruptive media team here in the nation’s Capital. I’m a pragmatic and practical problem-solver, shaped by my childhood as the son of immigrants from India.

Husband to a Healthcare Hero, and father to two Lafayette Bears. Spend most weekends driving from piano to gymnastics to birthday parties to girl scouts to soccer games. Wouldn’t have it any other way. In my spare time, enjoy watching all sports. Even my New York Giants.     

Dania Palanker
Hi. My name is Dania Palanker, mom to Nadia in 2nd grade. I was a room parent last year and would love the opportunity to use my policy expertise to help the Lafayette community through the LSAT.

I have over two decades experience working in policy, including analyzing state and local government budgets. I have served on, and chaired, a number of advisory groups and workgroups for the DC Health Benefit Exchange and the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

I believe my experiencing with those public entities, facilitating groups of people with varying interests to move forward recommendations towards a shared goal, will help when the LSAT needs to incorporate the interests of families, teachers, school administrators, and the community.

I want to be part of the LSAT to help make sure Lafayette is meeting its mission – including helping students reach their full potential through a supportive, nurturing environment – for all students. To do this, I would be available for parents and guardians who see areas where we can improve. I plan to be a resource for all parents who wish to reach out about the culture, the curriculum, or student-specific needs.

I also hope to bring my experience working in health equity to help make sure that Lafayette is creating opportunities for all students to receive what they need to develop their full academic and social potential.

Ann Sun
Hi Lafayette Community! I am excited to submit my name to be considered for LSAT representative this upcoming 2022-23 school year! I have had the honor and privilege of serving as HSA Co-President and representative to the LSAT for the past two years, through which I’ve worked hard on behalf of our parent community and learned a lot about the decision-making that impacts our school. I have served as a bridge between the HSA and the LSAT. 

I believe strongly in the transformative power of education – my parents are first generation immigrants and English was not my first language. My teachers and my schooling made all the difference for me. Professionally, I work in policy related to financial market infrastructures at the Federal Reserve and I am mom to three children, in 5th grade, 2nd grade and PreK at Lafayette. We love our school and moved to the area to join the Lafayette community some ten years ago. I am dedicated to supporting our families, advancing our diversity and inclusion efforts, and ensuring that Lafayette is the best it can be! 

As we move into the next school year with a return to normal, I believe we must redouble our efforts in engaging the school community, creating formal and informal opportunities to collect input, and hear from families and staff on where we are doing well and where we have room for improvement. One idea I have is to create the space for community listening sessions at times that are more accessible to our busy families. 

Thank you for considering my candidacy. I would be honored to serve on the LSAT and support our school!

Cindy Wade
As the parent of a joyful 3rd  grader (Jaden) at Lafayette Elementary School and an energetic 2-year-old (Davin), I am thrilled to be able to submit my name as a candidate for the Lafayette LSAT. My spouse (Hanani) and I love the Lafayette community and value the relationships we have built.

I was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. I graduated from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University located in Greensboro, NC with a Bachelor of Arts. I obtained a Master of Public Administration from George Mason University located in Fairfax, VA. Upon graduating, I fell in love with the DC metro area and now proudly call it home.

Since being part of the Lafayette community for the last five years, I have volunteered with various HSA activities, Food Prints, and classroom socials. I have attended LSAT and HSA meetings as well as Parents of Students of Color meetings to ensure I remain informed, active, and an advocate for our students, teachers, and staff.

I am an active member of this community to which I volunteer on various boards supporting issues that impact residents of all ages and backgrounds. I attend All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  In my free time, I enjoy biking, cooking, gardening, board games, and time with family and friends.

My professional background is in the information technology industry, where I support federal agency Chief Information Officers by advocating for and implementing multi-million-dollar IT projects that support a global customer base of 75K. I am thankful for the drive and commitment of our educators. I believe that it is important that as a community we support our educators and that we identify and implement ways to ensure every child can be their best academic self.

Kevin Walsh

Hello!  I’m Kevin Walsh, father to a kindergartner (Isla Walsh) at Lafayette and a pre-schooler (Aoife Walsh) that will soon join Lafayette once she is ready to exit Broad Branch Children’s House.  I am seeking your vote for the LSAT so I may bring a community based approach to the guidance provided to Lafayette Elementary’s administration. 

During my short time at Lafayette I have volunteered towards the Lafayette Auction and participated in bringing my child’s classroom together. Since 2006 I have worked in banking focusing on operational risk, compliance and governance. I believe my experience, skills and sense of community will help guide Lafayette as a LSAT member.

Here are the HSA candidates:
Co-President: Maitland Greer

My name is Maitland Greer and I would like to express my interest in the HSA Co-President role. My family has lived in the neighborhood for 4 years and we feel lucky to be a part of this amazing community. I would love to help continue to work together to foster inclusivity at our school. 

I have a daughter who will start at Lafayette in the fall and a rising 2nd grader. I worked on sponsorships for the Fall Festival and I am currently the Lafayette auction co-chair. 

My professional experience includes Public Affairs at Nickelodeon and Marketing at the Hearst Corporation where I also was a contributor to Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Yahoo! and AOL. Most recently, I was the Head of Strategic Programs at a PR firm, Burson Marsteller, and ran pro-social initiatives, events and marketing campaigns for clients and partners including McDonald’s, Kellogg, Barilla, Deloitte, James Beard Foundation, Harvard and the Financial Times. 

I am currently a stay-at-home mom and hope to serve our students, families and staff as HSA Co-President!

Vice President 1: Gabe DiClerico

I am writing to express my interest in running for the First Vice President position with the Lafayette HSA.  My daughter Helen is in second grade at Lafayette and her younger brother James will be starting there in the Fall.  I am currently serving as the 1st VP of the HSA and my hope is to have the opportunity to continue in this role the next school year and build upon the work we’ve done to enhance the financial monitoring and reporting of the HSA. Professionally I am a licensed CPA and am CFO at a nonprofit, ImpactAssets, where I have developed extensive experience with nonprofit financial and tax matters.  I’d be excited to bring my time and qualifications to the HSA Board in service to the school community and our families.  Thanks for your consideration.

Vice President 2: Nok Nora Duany Bassey

I would like to nominate myself for VP2 for HSA. I’m a mother of 2 Lafayette students, Mai Bassey, 4th grade (Ratliff) and Bassey Bassey, 2nd grade (Burnett). We are originally from South Sudan but hail from Bloomington, IN. It had always been my intent to bring my children back to DC. I’m a proud Hoyas and attended my undergrad here in DC. We moved back to DC in August 2019 from Cambridge MA, after grad school.  Currently, I work for Accenture as a Tech Manager. 

As my daughter will be a 5th grader next year, I would really like to ensure that her final year at Lafayette is a great one for her and her classmates.  I think that starts with making sure all families feel like they are valued members of the Lafayette community.  As I support HSA I want to continue to explore how we can make that sense of belonging here at Lafayette a reality for all families. Thanks.

Co-Treasurer: Vanessa Scott

I, Vanessa Scott, write to express my interest to serve as co – treasurer of the Lafayette Home and School Association 

My husband and I moved into the neighborhood a little over nine years ago; and knew instantly this was the right space for us to start our family. We have been a part of Lafayette for 3 years; our children are currently PK4 (Russell) and 1st Grader (Charlotte). I am truly passionate about our children’s education, strengthening our community and working with families to support and develop our school. I have been a volunteer in various roles at Lafayette: Room Parent, Bear Fund, Fall Festival Committee and want to do more.

Professionally, I have been an event planner for over 15 years and worked for large hospitality corporations in addition to smaller private companies specializing in social events. Currently I’m home with our children and helping a fellow Lafayette mom, Aimee Dominick, with her busy season of social events. 

I am enthusiastic about the year ahead and making Lafayette as successful as possible for all the children. I value our current staff, parent community, and the HSA and would be honored to serve as part of the team.