Meet the Board
Term expires 2019
Sima Sarrafan was appointed to the Board in February 2018 to fill the position vacated by Steve McConnell.
Ms. Sarrafan grew up in Bellevue. She attended Stevenson, Bennett, and Odle, and graduated from Interlake High School. Her children attend school in the Bellevue School District as well.
Ms. Sarrafan is an attorney at Microsoft and has prior experience in both the private and public sectors, including serving an Assistant United States Attorney, in Washington, D.C. Ms. Sarrafan is a graduate of Vassar College, from which she received a degree in economics, and a graduate of Harvard Law School. While in law school, Ms. Sarrafan taught undergraduate economics as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard College. She also served as an adjunct professor law at Roger Williams School of Law, in Bristol, Rhode Island, and at Seattle University School of Law. Additionally, she served as a Trustee of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, an independent federal government agency with the mission of advancing the development of STEM programs, and cultivating a passion for science, for middle and high school students.
Ms. Sarrafan was a member of the Odle Safety Committee for five years, and served on the Gifted Parent Advisory Committee as well. She believes one of the greatest strengths of the Bellevue School District is its unique combination of a diverse and vibrant student body, exceptional and dedicated teachers and staff, and an engaged community.
Term expires 2019
Carolyn Watson has served on the Bellevue School Board since 2015.
Carolyn Watson is a long-time PTSA Board Member, a VIBES Academic Tutor in AP World History, and a former Software Developer for Fannie Mae in Washington DC. She has also taught economics as an adjunct instructor at a small college in Indiana, and worked as a product manager for a software start-up in Northern Virginia. Her education includes a BA in Anthropology from SUNY Albany, an MBA in Finance from Indiana University, and further graduate work in Anthropology at American University in DC.
Since first volunteering in the Bellevue Schools in 2004, Carolyn has served on the boards of the Bennett Elementary PTSA, the Stevenson Elementary PTA, and the International School PTSA, in positions as varied as Legislative Chair, Co-Treasurer, Membership Chair, Secretary, Vice President, and President.
On the district level, Carolyn has served on the board of the Bellevue PTSA Council including a year as Co-President. She served on district committees under several superintendents, including the Gifted Parent Advisory Committee with Dr. Riley, the Equity Committee with Dr. Cudeiro, and the District Technology Advisory Committee for Dr. Mills.
Carolyn received a Golden Acorn award for volunteerism from Stevenson Elementary, and the Gold Level Leadership Academy award from the Washington State PTA.
Carolyn’s family moved to the Bellevue School District in 2000 from Maryland courtesy of Microsoft. She is originally from New York, and grew up on Long Island. Her husband has done extensive volunteering at Bellevue High and International School by co-teaching AP Computer Science through the TEALS program. Their son, who is attending Cornell University, started Kindergarten at Bennett, attended the gifted (PRISM) program at Stevenson, and graduated from the International School while participating in cross country and track at Interlake. Carolyn gained extensive experience as a parent volunteer in each of these programs along the way.
Term expires 2020
Dr. Erica Melief was elected to the Bellevue School Board in 2017. She ran for office at the encouragement of Chris Marks, the incumbent of her seat at the time, from a desire to serve her local community in a meaningful way.
Erica has lived in Bellevue with her husband since 2007 and has three children who will all be attending Bellevue public schools when they are old enough. Encompassing both ends of the education spectrum, she has taught undergraduate students during her PhD tenure and volunteered with her childrens’ preschool classes.
Erica earned her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Washington in 2011. She works as a Research Scientist focused on neurodegeneration in the department of Pathology at UW.
Term expires 2019
Roles: Vice President
Christine Chew was appointed to the Board in September of 2010 to fill the position vacated by Peter Bentley. Ms. Chew serves as the board’s representative to the PTSA Council.
Ms. Chew has lived in the Bellevue School district since 1993. Her two children currently attend schools in the district, where she lives with her husband.
The daughter of two public school teachers, Christine’s passion for education dates back to her youth when she served in volunteer capacities working with youth in school and out-of-school programs. Ms. Chew continued to pursue that passion as former high school science teacher (at Redmond High School), a soccer coach, and a volunteer in various youth programs and schools. Ms. Chew is currently pursuing a doctorate in education at the University of Washington and runs a Seattle nonprofit, College Access Now, that is dedicated to making college possible for underserved students.
Ms. Chew formerly worked as a program management lead at Microsoft for eight years where she helped lead small teams working on software development, including work on Microsoft Encarta’s online services. In her early career, Ms. Chew worked as an environmental health/risk assessment toxicologist. Ms. Chew earned dual bachelor’s degrees (in chemistry and political science) and a master’s degree (in toxicology) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A strong education not only builds skills and opportunities for a strong individual but also for a strong community. I am committed to ensuring that all students receive an excellent education that builds their strengths, enhances their opportunities and strengthens the understanding and skills of our collective community.Christine Chew
Term expires 2020
My-Linh Thai was elected to the Board of Directors in November 2013. Ms. Thai has resided in the Bellevue School District since 2008. She is married with two children, who attend Tyee Middle School.
Ms. Thai has a wealth of experience as a volunteer in Bellevue Schools. In addition to her work as a classroom reading and math volunteer, she has served on the Somerset Elementary PTSA and held leadership roles on the Bellevue PTSA Council. Ms. Thai also organized Tyee Middle School Math Olympiad and Somerset Elementary MathAdventure, chaired Somerset Elementary Reflections National PTA Arts Program and served as Somerset’s ambassador to the Bellevue Schools Foundation for two years. In 2013, she received the Washington State PTA Outstanding Advocate Award for her volunteer service.
When she was a teenager, Ms. Thai moved to the United States with her family as refugees from Vietnam. She did not know English and spent two years in the ELL program. She graduated from Federal Way High school, where the dedicated teachers and counselors helped start her on the path toward higher education and community service. In 1992, she graduated from the University of Washington School of Pharmacy. In 2008 and 2012, she returned to Vietnam to help teach the country’s first nursing graduate program.
I believe that a great education is one where both the heart and the mind are nourished and cultivated. To do that, we should acknowledge that each child has a gift and his/her educational need is unique. To best individualize the effort to educate, we must engage our teachers, principals, parents, students and all members of our community. My hope is to be part of an education where curiosity and creativity are fostered, effective communication and collaboration are encouraged, critical thinking is developed, and citizenship nurtured.My-Linh Thai