Shy and quiet in groups, Bina Lefkovitz is known for supporting others in leadership positions while she diligently works in the background. Now she needs to change her style. In September she was unanimously appointed to an open seat on the Sacramento County Board of Education, an elected position.
“I don’t really see myself as a politician, but I understand that I’m taking on a new role,” Lefkovitz said. “I’ll have to raise money, run for re-election and get more comfortable speaking in public settings.” Learning these skills will give Lefkovitz a hand in strategically reviewing and reshaping SCOE’s educational programs.
The SCOE Board has many responsibilities, but is largely tasked with overseeing the learning experience of the 242,000 students enrolled in the County’s thirteen school districts, and the roughly 30,000 students SCOE educates through its own special education programs, community schools and Juvenile Court school.
The SCOE Board also provides fiscal and budget review for the school districts and hears appeals when a charter school application is denied. Renowned for its emphasis on continuous learning, SCOE provides cutting-edge training and mentoring to teachers and administrators.
“I love public policy and the ability to make lasting change in a system,” Lefkovitz said. “Politics is often the means to get strategic policy implemented.”
Lefkovitz grew up in Skokie, Illinois. She was the youngest of four children and the only girl in her middle class, Jewish family. She earned an undergraduate degree in sociology and a master’s from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in Austin, Texas.
In graduate school Lefkovitz joined a women’s group, where she discovered the power of activism. She learned how to push policy makers to create change, and she developed a deeper respect for government and her Jewish faith
“In the Jewish tradition, there is a term ‘Tikkun Olam,’ which means ‘repair the world’ Lefkovitz said. “Mom took me along to do volunteer projects, and a big part of our faith is social activism and pursuing social justice.” said Lefkovitz, who is now the president of Congregation B’nai Israel, Sacramento’s oldest Jewish congregation.
Lefkovitz‘s range of public policy jobs include founding and co-directing the Youth Development Network She is most proud of working in the city manager’s office, where she created the neighborhood services department.
Graduate school was more than academics. It’s where she met her husband, Jay Schenirer, councilmember for District 5. They live on 10th Avenue in Curtis Park with their Golden Retriever, Louie. They raised two sons who attended Brete Hart Elementary and McClatchy High School.
Lefkovitz and her husband have been partners in developing and implementing innovative educational programs. In her new role she wants to focus on giving students a voice in their education: closing the achievement gap between white students and black and brown students, introducing students to civic engagement, and getting students to think beyond graduation.
Lefkovitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916 213–9679.
—By Rosanna Herber Viewpoint staff writer