Former Crystal Lake PTO president enters ISD 194 school board race
Jennifer Hearon Harmening cites experience with school closures, budget cuts as reasons for her run
Three incumbents on the Lakeville School Board will see their terms end this year, and at least two of them (Judy Keliher and Bob Erickson) have announced their intentions to run for another term. Kathy Lewis has not yet indicated whether she will run again. The filing period begins July 31 and ends at 5 p.m. on Aug. 14.
Two challengers have already announced their intentions to file: Terry Lind and Jennifer Harmening. Sun Thisweek introduced readers last week to Lind, a former elementary school principal in the district. Harmening, an active community member and 2011 PTO president of the former Crystal Lake Elementary School, announced in late June her candidacy.
Harmening has a resume that spans business, church involvement and public education. She was president of the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, after which she started her own association management consulting business. Her focus, according to her statement, is on organizations in transition.
“The Harmening family experienced the impact of the changes in the Lakeville school district firsthand when Crystal Lake Elementary closed in 2011,” she wrote in her press release. “As programs are cut, class sizes continue to rise and families are now paying for busing.”
She said she decided that it was time to “dig in and get more involved.”
Her current business involvement includes the following: She is executive director for MedNet of Minnesota, a medical device association. She also serves on the board of directors and executive committee for Daystar U.S., a national organization that provides funding and services for Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya. Recently she chaired the search for the new executive director.
In education, Harmening was president of the Crystal Lake PTO until that school closed last year. Following that, she served on the District Boundary Adjustment Committee. For the past two years, she has served as facilitator of the ISD 194 elementary PTO roundtable. She is currently working to extend this to the middle schools, she said in her statement. A merging of the ideals of business and education in her life led her to chair the Dakota County School-to-Work Partnership.
Harmening has been married to her husband, Tom, for more than 15 years, most of that spent in the Lakeville school district. They have two children, one who will enter fourth and another who will enter seventh grade this fall. Their children are involved in the Lakeville Baseball Association, Lakeville Soccer Club and the Lakeville Area Arts Center, she said.
Her church involvement centers on more than 30 years of activity at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina. She has been a youth leader and a mothers’ group coordinator. She also served as a soccer coach for the YMCA and Lakeville Soccer Club and as a volunteer for the Crystal Lake Improvement Association.
In her release, Harmening highlighted her emphasis on her commitment to quality education in a fiscally responsible way while ensuring lower class sizes. She also emphasized her cross-organizational experience as a strength of her candidacy.