Meet the Board
Sima Sarrafan was appointed to the Board in February 2018 to fill the position vacated by Steve McConnell.
Ms. Sarrafan grew up in Bellevue and attended Stevenson, Bennett, Odle, and Interlake High School, from which she graduated. After being on the east coast for many years, she returned to Bellevue in 2006 with her husband and children, who attend school in Bellevue School District as well.
Ms. Sarrafan is an attorney at Microsoft and has prior experience in both the private and public sectors, including conducting economics research at the Federal Reserve Board, and serving an Assistant United States Attorney, in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Vassar College and 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.
Ms. Sarrafan previously served as a Trustee of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, an independent federal government agency that sought to cultivate a passion for STEM in middle and high school students; she currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Lawyers. In 2018, Microsoft’s legal department named Ms. Sarrafan Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year, and the National Association of Women Lawyers awarded her the Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member Award.
Before joining the Board, Ms. Sarrafan was a member of the Odle Safety Committee and served on the Gifted Parent Advisory Committee. As part of her duties as a School Board Director, she serves on the Governance, Oversight, and Legislative Committee, and is the Board’s liaison to the Bellevue Schools Foundation and Jubilee Reach. Ms. Sarrafan is committed to the fulfillment of the school district’s vision and mission of providing an equitable and exemplary education that affirms and inspires each and every student.
Roles: Vice President
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.
Dr. Erica Melief was elected to the Bellevue School Board in 2017.
Erica has lived in Bellevue with her husband since 2007. She has three children, the oldest of whom will be attending kindergarten in Bellevue public schools in of the fall of 2019. Encompassing both ends of the education spectrum, she has taught undergraduate and masters students during her tenure as a graduate student and has volunteered with her childrens’ preschool classes. She is passionate about early education and increasing access to early learning programs.
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.
Christine Chew was appointed to the Board in September of 2010 to fill the position vacated by Peter Bentley and has been elected to the board twice since that time. She has served as board president and vice president as well as the liaison to multiple partner organizations and on multiple board committees. Christine also advocates at the state level for our students in her role as the Board’s legislative representative and as the Vice Chair on the Washington State School Directors’ Association Resolutions Committee.
Christine and her husband have lived in the Bellevue School district since 1993. Her son graduated from and her daughter currently attends school in the District.
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 both in-school and out-of-school youth programs. She continued to pursue that passion as a former high school science teacher (at Redmond High School), a soccer coach, and a volunteer in various youth programs and schools. Christine holds a doctorate in education from the University of Washington where her research and outreach work centered on science education and the impact of school leadership on instructional change.
Formerly the executive director of Seattle nonprofit, College Access Now, Christine collaborated with community schools to make college possible for underserved students. She also 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, Christine worked as an environmental health/risk assessment toxicologist. Christine earned dual bachelor’s degrees (in chemistry and political science) and a master’s degree (in toxicology) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Christine serves on the board of the nonprofit Amplio – which empowers people to improve their lives through learning and information sharing; and she volunteers to support several community education initiatives and other community organizations. In her free time, Christine enjoys playing and watching sports, cooking, traveling, reading, attending live theater, and spending time with friends and family.
Dr. Francine Wiest was appointed to the board in January 2019 to fill the position vacated by My-Linh Thai.
Francine has lived in the Bellevue School District since 2003. Her three children attend schools in the district at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
In Bellevue Francine has been active in the PTSA, volunteering on two elementary school boards, including as president at Somerset Elementary, as well as starting and chairing numerous committees across several schools. Her efforts have been recognized with a PTA Golden Acorn and two Outstanding Advocate awards. She has also served on two school district committees: Strategic Planning and the Gifted Advisory Committee, as well as created a partnership between the City of Bellevue Neighborhood Enhancement Project and the school district to install additional elementary school playground equipment.
Francine graduated magna cum laude in biology from Harvard, earned her MD from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and received her MPH from the University of Washington. She currently works as an independent healthcare consultant.
Francine has a longstanding interest in education. She has worked in various education settings, served on national education policy committees, and completed the University of Washington Teaching Scholars Program. As a health services researcher she has looked at the impact of education and training on clinical outcomes. She believes that exemplary education is achieved by a combination of evidence based methods and passionate dedication to inspiring each and every student.