Aron Carleson has been dedicated to improving Hillsboro schools for years.
As a child, Aron Carleson remembers seeing his father at special events, interviewing the Harlem Globetrotters or circus performers barely off the trains they took into town with their elephants.
A journalist, Carleson’s father always made connections with people, and sometimes he took her with him.
During this time, her mother has always been involved in events at her school or in organizing neighborhood systems such as a childcare co-op, Carleson said.
She said that engaging with her community has always been a part of her and her family.
“You just did,” she said.
Carleson has spent decades dedicated to the Hillsboro community working to improve public education, both in his private life and in his professional career as Director of the Hillsboro Schools Foundation.
A Hillsboro resident since 1994 with two adult children graduating from the Hillsboro School District, her community service has extended outside of her schools.
After being appointed to a seat on Hillsboro City Council in 2006, Carleson won an election for the seat later that year, then was re-elected in 2010. She also served as board chair while she was a member. advice.
Carleson has also served on several town, school district and Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce committees and advisory groups.
At the Hillsboro Schools Foundation, Carleson has worked to secure funding and support from businesses, community organizations and individuals for STEM, career and after-school programs, playgrounds and other opportunities. for students.
She says her interest in schools stems from the belief that the health of a community depends on the quality of its schools.
“It’s about creating more and more diverse opportunities for students,” Carleson said. “To have a good community, you have to have good schools.
She said her main task has always been to show people that if they support students, it will ultimately benefit their business or organization as children will grow up with more skills that they can apply to the workplace. within the community.
“It’s all connected,” Carleson said.
But reaching people who are willing to donate to schools isn’t easy – the vast majority of Hillsboro residents do not have children in the school district, and more than half of those children’s families are eligible. a free and reduced lunch, she said.
But Carleson is counting on building relationships in the community to gain support from the Hillsboro Schools Foundation, said Nathan Sosa, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors.
“Aron’s outstanding characteristic is his ability to connect with people,” Sosa said, adding that Carleson’s ability spanned all walks of life. “She is able to find connections with people and then connect those connections to the work of the foundation. It’s something that impressed me from the moment I met her.”
What Sosa called an “encyclopedic memory” helps Carlson keep track of people and what’s going on in the community, and then come up with partnerships that could benefit students, he said.
Carleson’s agility in supporting schools, teachers and students during the pandemic has been another significant achievement, Sosa said.
He said under Carleson’s leadership, the Hillsboro Schools Foundation responded quickly, set up a pandemic relief fund and quickly raised nearly $ 150,000 to help families access technology and the internet, virtual programming opportunities and basic necessities, including food.
Carleson said his work requires him to fill in the gaps in what is available for Hillsboro schools, but also to think about ways to leverage what is available.
She was especially proud when, in the summer of 2019, someone from a local business she had previously been in contact with called to say the company was changing the brand of construction tools they used and wanted. donate tools valued at $ 300,000 to Hillsboro schools.
When asked what makes her tick, Carleson replied, “It fills my cup to know that something has made a difference.”
Editor’s note: this feature originally appeared in the 2021 Community Heroes special publication from Pamplin Media Group.
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