Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto. I was first elected to the FUHSD Board in 2018, and re-elected in 2022. Social work is my passion; I’ve worked in areas of substance abuse, mental health, reproductive justice, criminal justice, and child welfare. So I have a wide range of different experiences.
I also have three kids who all graduated from Homestead High School, and my husband is a lifelong resident of Sunnyvale, graduating from Fremont High School. So as a family we have been in the area for many years.
Can you expand upon any of your previous leadership and community involvement experiences?
I was the Executive Director at West Valley Community Services—a nonprofit that provides food bank, housing, and basic aid services—and worked there for 10 years. I’ve also been executive director of Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC), which is a mental health agency in Mountain View. And before that, I was at Asian American Recovery Services (AARS), an organization that provides substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment services. And then along with that, I’ve worked at Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) and worked in the school systems. I worked at Santa Clara University at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and I was the assistant director for Social Sector Ethics, working with nonprofits and guiding them on how to be a good nonprofit and govern ethically. And I worked at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) as senior director for social justice.
Why did you run to be re-elected?
One is representation. This district has about 80% students of color but our board doesn’t reflect the school population. And the other part is that historically, I don’t think Asians have not had a strong voice. Especially because we have a high percentage of students of color, with Asian Pacific Islander students as the biggest percentage of that. Right along with that, I am from Sunnyvale. We haven’t had much representation from North Sunnyvale.
What are your plans and goals as board member?
As a social worker, social-emotional health is key for me. Just the other day, I was talking to a teacher and they were telling me about eight students that they could think of just who are struggling with social emotional issues. That’s only one teacher, so say if each teacher had eight students that were struggling with their health, that’s almost 4000 students. I’m sure that there are more, depending on how we define social-emotional health. But I’d like to be able to work on addressing that.
I’d like to work more on equity issues. As a district, we are really committed to equity, but we still have a long way to go, because I see equity as a process and not a destination. Things are always changing; for instance, when I went to school we didn’t have pronouns, but now using appropriate pronouns for someone is very important. We have to adapt as a school or district.
Other issues are declining enrollment and a high poverty level. Finally, academic success, which I don’t talk so much about because it’s a given to me. We’re always going to strive for academic success for all our students.
Anything else to add for the community to know?
I would like to end by saying that this is a great school district. We have great students. We are at a 96% graduation rate. So we are doing well. I would like for us to focus a little bit more on our 4% who aren’t graduating because ideally, we want to have a 100% graduation rate.
But overall we are doing great. I love the work that we are doing as a community. I would like to see more student engagement; I think students are very involved in the school, but I’d also like to see more involvement with the district. I really appreciate the student voice and hearing from students.