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Welcome to our new Perspectives column, a chance to hear from Nueva leaders. In this installment, meet Mara Wallace and Andrea Johnson, Co-Chairs of the Marketing and Communications (MarCom) Committee of the Board of Trustees.

In addition to the MarCom Committee, Mara is currently secretary of the Nueva Board of Trustees. Her past roles at Nueva include co-chair of the Community Campaign and serving as a member of the Advancement Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and One School Task Force.

Andrea joined the MarCom Committee in January. Her past roles at Nueva include Community Service Learning Coordinator for seventh grade and eighth grade, and Parent Liaison for the Spanish Exchange Program.

1. What brought you to Nueva, and what motivates you to be such dedicated volunteers?

Mara: This is our ninth year at Nueva: Lucy started in fourth grade, Jake in first, and Kira in kindergarten. After seeing Nueva for the first time, I thought "This is what school is supposed to look like!" So much of what Nueva does and how we do it is transferable to any school, and I LOVE Nueva’s Mission 2 — the part of our vision that is to be a contributing member of the broader community. But our family also needed a community that serves gifted learners, and no one understands giftedness better than Nueva.

Nueva inspires me in all kinds of ways and, like so many parents here, I wish I could rewind and go to school here myself. Since I can't do that, I’ve been involved with the community as much as possible. I’ve volunteered in lots of different ways — as we all do — and have been honored and delighted to serve on the Board of Trustees since 2011.

Andrea: We have been parents at Nueva for three years since our son, Holden, joined in sixth grade. We were drawn to Nueva’s interdisciplinary and project-based approach to education, the richness of the classroom discussions, the I-Lab, the freedom afforded to students, and the wonderful community. And this community is exactly what motivates me — I am eager to contribute to a place that is so special, has done so much for my family and hundreds of other families.

 

2. What is the mandate of the MarCom Committee, and how does it connect to Nueva's program?

Andrea & Mara: The MarCom Committee was created to support Nueva’s Communications Department. We have a parent body with incredible, deep expertise in all manner of professions, and being able to tap into that in support of our mission is a no-brainer. Our first project is the branding effort that is currently underway.

Working with the Communications team, our community, leadership, and outside professionals, we are in the midst of a full-scale branding campaign. Phase One, which is mostly complete, was the strategic phase: understanding the world around us, looking carefully at the changes associated with our rapid growth to a preK–12 school, and clarifying our message. Phase Two, currently in process, entails the development of all the visual representation of Nueva: from signage to sweatshirts, business cards to basketball jerseys, and everything in between. Phase Three will be the implementation phase resulting in a new external website, new uniforms, new swag, new all things Nueva!

The ultimate goal is to have a clear, concise, and consistent message about Nueva — who we are, what we do, and why we are unique. It’s important that the outer world’s perception of Nueva is aligned with our internal perception of Nueva. And the benefits will extend far beyond our public image. Internally, this is an opportunity to foster our collective understanding of ourselves and speak in a collective voice. On a more tactical note, we will also have efficient and user-friendly systems for things like newsletters, stationery, signage, and branded materials for prospective families, prospective faculty and staff, and for all manner of events and meetings. There will be ample opportunity for customization while maintaining the clear “Nueva-ness” for things like teacher training institutes, the ILC, Nueva Summer, and athletic teams.

We’re hearing from all corners of the community that this is a much-needed exercise and that having this kind of consistency of message and image will be incredibly valuable. Thanks to everyone who has offered input already — and please, keep those ideas coming!

 

3. This sounds like a big effort. Why do you think this is important work for Nueva now?

Andrea & Mara: Now is the perfect time to take a collective breath and think about who we are, why we are here, and how best to present ourselves in the broader community. After celebrating our 50th anniversary and graduating our first class of seniors, we are at an inflection point in our school's history. It's an ideal moment to reflect — and Nueva is a particularly reflective community — to ensure continued focus on our mission, vision, and values for the next 50 years and beyond!

 

4.  Would you share a bit more to help our readers get to know you better?

Andrea: I was fortunate to attend some great schools including a fabulous preK–6 program. Those schools had an enormous impact on my thinking and my values. Many of my closest friendships were formed in those environments. I’m thrilled to see Holden at a school that stretches him intellectually, surrounds him with deep and diverse thinkers, and fosters independence. For fun, our family enjoys spending time outdoors, particularly in the mountains, skiing and hiking.

Working on this branding project is a great chance for me to learn more about Nueva — spending time with the lower school students was a blast! — and Mara and I are glad for the opportunity to contribute to the community we both love so much.

Mara: Holy cow! Where to begin?? I remember Lucy's shadow day so vividly. Coming from a school that had lots of strict (and often senseless) rules and restrictions, Lucy was amazed when she asked her hosting student, "How many books are you allowed to take out of the library at one time?" and the answer was, "Gee ... I don't know ... How many can you carry?"

Nueva has been such an integral part of our lives. We are grateful to all the incredible people that make Nueva — the teachers, the administrators, the staff, the families, the other students. We are grateful for all 33 acres and the lack of formal playgrounds and for the kindergartener who announced one year at the holiday concert that he was grateful for the periodic table. We are just plain grateful. And these days, I’m particularly grateful for my partner-in-branding-crime, Andrea. This project is important and challenging and fun and working on it together is a treat!

 

Please be on the lookout for more information on the branding project and how you can participate. For more about Mara and Andrea, please enjoy their biographies below. You can reach them via email: Mara Wallace and Andrea Johnson.

Mara Wallace, Co-Chair, Nueva Marketing and Communication Committee
Biography

Mara Wallace took an early retirement after the birth of her first child nearly 18 years ago. Before stepping out of the rat race, Mara amassed over 20 years’ experience in nonprofit management (and a stint in the corporate sector) with a focus on children and education. Formerly a consultant at Bain & Company, San Francisco, Mara was a member of the founding team of the Bridgespan Group, a strategic consulting firm serving the nonprofit sector, worked with a wide array of organizations including Planned Parenthood, the California Association of Nonprofits, Mother Jones Magazine, Teach for America, and Peninsula Bridge. Currently, she serves as a trustee at the Nueva School as well as the North Country School/Camp Treetops. She serves on the advisory committees of various political organizations and is active in the #PaloAltoLoveArmy (ask her about it!). Mara received a BA in psychology and early childhood development from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Columbia University. She currently lives in Palo Alto with her husband, Rick, their three kids, and three chickens toward which she is indifferent.

Andrea Johnson, Co-Chair, Nueva Marketing and Communication Committee
Biography

Andrea Johnson became a principal of Envelo Properties Corp. in October 2016. She was co-founder and CEO of ThisLife, a complete cloud solution for protecting, organizing, and sharing photos and videos, acquired by Shutterfly in 2013. Andrea served as Director of E-Commerce for Pottery Barn and before that she co-founded Petopia.com. Petopia (now operating as Petco.com) was the first e-commerce company to partner with a traditional retailer to leverage purchasing power, warehousing, and customer loyalty programs, pioneering subscription-based consumer sales for e-tailers. Andrea also served as director of business development for MovieFone and has been featured and quoted in publications including Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, Business 2.0, USA Today, PC World, TechCrunch, and All Things D. Andrea is currently a corporate director of Indigo Books & Music, Inc. (IDG.TO), and serves on the advisory board for DEN, Dartmouth's Entrepreneurship Network. She holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Andrea lives in Atherton with her husband, their three kids, and Stella the Wonder Doodle.


By Dianne Willoughby, Editorial Manager

April 4, 2018

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