Author Archives: Jennifer Colvin

Meet the New BCE President Sari McConnell

When Sari McConnell first moved to Burlingame from New York almost 10 years ago as a full-time working mom, she never envisioned she would one day step away from her career for a full-time role as an unpaid volunteer.

The president of BCE oversees a 16-person board, a 3-person staff, and manages over $2 million in revenues, not to mention a devoted army of passionate public school-oriented parent volunteers. It’s a job that involves being visible in the community, inspiring crowds, and evangelizing the importance of BCE to Burlingame schools.

So how did Sari end up as the new president of BCE?  

“Having grown up going to public schools in NY, it took some time for me to figure out that California school funding was so out of whack. New York receives twice the amount of per pupil state funding as California. And education foundations were a brand new idea for me. But once I understood the math, I was all in! Money takes care of a lot of solvable issues in our schools. As a parent, it’s quite a powerful feeling knowing that you can do something about it… for my own kids and my own community. Our public schools educate the next generation of leaders, and our kids – who learn side by side and come from all walks of life – deserve a great, inspiring education.” she says.

Sari started out volunteering through the PTA Executive Board at her kids’ elementary school and then took on the role of Vice President of Marketing for BCE. Inspired by her volunteer experiences, she was ready to do more.

Like many parents, she discovered that having children bound her more deeply into the community. “Becoming a parent felt like joining a club that I didn’t even know existed,” she says. Seeing other parents give to their schools inspired her passion to do more for the community. She describes their first experience with Burlingame public school: “When [we] moved to Burlingame in November, our oldest was entering Kindergarten.  As we arrived nervously on Roosevelt’s campus for the first time with our son, two parents approached us.  They said, ‘You must be Jacob’s parents.  Welcome to Roosevelt!’ And when we asked how they could possibly know who we were, they said, ‘well, we were expecting a new kinder today and since we know everyone else here, we’ve been waiting for you to show up.’  That story pretty much sums up our attachment to Burlingame’s schools.  I can hardly tell it without getting a lump in my throat…Still.”

Her volunteer experience paired with her previous work experience and education prepared her well for her new role in fundraising.  With a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Sari began a career in brand management and product development working for Hallmark Cards, Clorox and Leapfrog. This evolved into business development as she founded a company called Conformer Products.  Her volunteer management skills developed as she became more involved in her children’s schools.  

Our school district was the perfect training ground for what she views as the most valuable experience on her resume.  Although she eventually left full-time work, the passion for our schools burned even brighter and she saw a real opportunity in BCE.  “We have a five-year strategic plan in place that we initiated this year that is based off of three strategic pillars — sustain our programs, strengthen our operational continuity, and seek growth opportunities.  We are well prepared to hit the ground running for this fiscal year,” she says.

As president of BCE, Sari is in contact with all reaches of the Burlingame community: parents, the school district, local businesses, and community organizations. With so many stakeholders in the organization, Sari walks a fine line between making sure everyone feels heard while also making sure BCE strategy stays on target. Walking that line while protecting BCE’s dedicated volunteers is what she predicts may be the hardest part of the position. “As president, I encourage our board and our volunteers to take risks and try new things to engage and inspire our donors.  We don’t always get it right 100% of the time, even when we try to anticipate all the angles. I feel protective of the volunteers who are out there trying to do their best to raise as much money for our schools as possible.  It’s very hard asking for money…especially when they’re your neighbors!”

But it’s connecting all these parts of the community together to help make our schools great that inspires Sari the most as the new president. “The fact that we raise as much as we do every year — as a band of volunteers, as a community of parents and local businesses — is nothing short of a miracle.  I want our hard-working parents to feel a part of this miracle, and the gift we’re giving our children.”

Sari McConnell

Sari lives in Burlingame with her husband Blake and three children ages 5, 11, and 14 who attend Roosevelt Elementary School (and previously TK at McKinley), Burlingame Intermediate School (BIS) and Burlingame High School (BHS). The role of BCE President is a 2 year term.

-Written by Elisa Lee


Volunteer awards

Last week we honored our outgoing board members and recognized our Advisory Board MVP volunteers at an end of the year party. Following BCE tradition, recipients were given a “tiny trophy” symbolizing their hard work and dedication, as well as the creative and practical spirit of the BCE organization.

Outgoing BCE President Angela Dubovsky also awarded Kelly and Dave Tillman the Distinguished Service Award for their many years of dedication to BCE. Not only have the Tillmans donated generously to BCE, but Kelly also served on the BCE Board of Directors. And we certainly can’t forget the famous Tillman auction parties that have been a popular fundraising item.

Advisory Board MVPs:

  • Amanda Virani
  • Judy Gum
  • Jamie Burton
  • Kim Doren
  • Kate Reed
  • Winnie Wong
  • Alix O’Brien
  • Penny Crespo
  • Katie Ward
  • Kim Pitzer

Outgoing board members:

  • Angela Dubovsky, President
  • Fabiola Price, VP Events
  • Michele Harbin, Secretary
  • Hildur Carlen, McKinley Site Director
  • Katie Herstein, Lincoln Site Director
  • Marni Fligel, Franklin Site Director
  • Linda Shaffer, VP Site Directors
  • Quynh Trinh, VP Business Development

As we approach the end of the school year, and the close of our fundraising cycle at the end of the month, we’d like to take a moment to give a special thanks to these outstanding volunteers, as well as the hundreds of other volunteers who have donated their time, talents and money throughout the school year in support of Burlingame School District.

Incoming BCE President Sari McConnell presents Angela Dubovsky an award to recognize her three years on the BCE board and her leadership as BCE President.


Welcome New BCE Board Members

We are proud to present the BCE Board for the 2017/18 school year:

  • Sari McConnell, President
  • Amanda Virani, Secretary*
  • Jenese Sieben, Treasurer
  • Jeff DiMartini, VP Business Development*
  • Kate Reed, VP Events*
  • Jennifer Kulin, VP Marketing
  • Kendra Wehmeyer, VP Scholars Circle
  • Marni Fligel, VP Site Directors**
  • Malinda Pauly, BIS Site Director
  • Victoria Terry, Franklin Site Director*
  • Carolyn Way, Hoover Site Director
  • Lisa Mudd, Lincoln Site Director*
  • Liz Anderson, McKinley Site Director*
  • Kristin Flenniken, Roosevelt Site Director
  • Margaret Burke, Washington Site Director
  • Bethany Hollrah, VP New Families*

* Indicates new to the BCE Board.

** Indicates individual previously held a different BCE Board position.

 A BIG thank you to the nominating committee for their hard work and dedication during the nominating process.

Nominating committee members: Joe Benaglia (BIS), Bethany Hollrah (Franklin), Rachel Goodrich (Lincoln), Jennifer Kulin (McKinley), Sari McConnell (Roosevelt), Sean Moran (Washington), Michele Harbin (Washington), Terese Fuss (Hoover)

2017-18 BCE Board of Directors


BSD Innovation Institute

We’re lucky to live in an area with excellent public schools. We have so many resources at our disposal, and we are working towards being able to fully take advantage of them.

With the launch of the BSD Innovation Institute and the hiring of a new Director of Innovation, our district will better enable innovation to come to life in our kids’ classrooms.

“We’re not sure what exactly the future looks like, but we know we need to focus on the four Cs: collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking,” Superintendent Dr. MacIsaac said at a recent Scholars Circle gathering.

The Innovation Institute will support teachers in their efforts to shift to new models of teaching that focus on these core areas, as well as provide professional development and training to help teachers develop personalized instruction for students and incorporate social-emotional learning.

Other school districts on the Peninsula and in the East Bay have launched similar institutes to bring best practices to the classroom and implement new educational programs and resources in partnership with other organizations and technology companies throughout the Bay Area.

The Innovation Institute will allow us to do all of this, and much more. Just as critically, it will provide a competitive advantage for our district in the recruitment and retention of teachers, which is essential given California’s teacher shortage.

The district has already started recruiting for the Director of Innovation position, with the aim of implementing the institute before school starts in the fall.

However, we are $360,000 short of our $2 million fundraising goal. In order to continue to support all of our existing programs and staff (including music, art, PE, library, and more), and launch the institute, we need to raise all of the funds by June 30. Please consider donating today.

“In the future, I can see how every classroom could be an idea lab. Every classroom could be a maker space,” Dr. MacIsaac said. The Innovation Institute will bring the ideas and resources to our teachers to make it happen.


The Impact of Your BCE Donation

When you donate to BCE, you’re making a direct impact on every aspect of your child’s education. Donations to BCE provide the flexibility our district needs to direct public funds where they make the biggest impact. That funding and flexibility empowers our district’s experts to provide a rich and inspiring public education for all TK through 8th grade students.  

 This year, our current grant helps the district fund the following important programs:

  • teacher salaries to help keep class sizes as low as possible
  • teacher professional development
  • district math and science coaching/curriculum specialists
  • integrated technology specialist
  • TK-8th grade choral and instrumental music program
  • middle school musical
  • credentialed physical education specialists
  • TK-8th grade library specialists
  • 4th and 5th grade classroom instructional aides
  • integrated art program and professional development
  • lunchtime supervision

We have until June 30 to raise the final $360,000 of our $2 million goal to sustain our existing programs and hire a new Director of Innovation. Help us meet our goals by donating to BCE today.


Help us Reach our $2 Million Fundraising Goal

We have only a few weeks left to raise the final $550,000 of our $2 million goal to both sustain our existing programs and hire a new Director of Innovation. 

This new district-wide resource would:

  • Drive digital literacy and creative use of technology in our classrooms
  • Ensure close alignment with tech standards
  • Recruit and onboard new, highly-skilled teachers
  • Foster private/public partnerships
  • Establish design-focused instruction and STEAM best practices across our district leveraging existing investments and strategic new ones
  • Lead a new Innovation Institute that will equip teachers with new skills and tools

If we can come together and give what we can to make a $2 million investment in our schools with our grant next year, we can sustain our amazing programs and help BSD fund the Director of Innovation – but time is short. 

Please donate today so we can make this happen for our kids!


Fire and Ice Gala was a Sizzling Success

The hottest ticket in Burlingame was the BCE Dinner Dance and Auction this year, sold out for the fourth consecutive year with more than 450 supporters!

Check out the photos from the event.

BCE President Angela Dubovsky and President Elect Sari McConnell

Thank you to the donors and sponsors who supported BCE’s annual Dinner Dance and Auction, and all of the dedicated volunteers who made it happen. On behalf of the TK-8th grade students of Burlingame School District who directly benefit from your generosity, we thank you.

Dinner Dance Auction Item Pick-Up Details

If you won an item in the online auction, silent auction or live auction, congrats! If you didn’t get your item at the event, you can pick it up at the Burlingame School District office, 1825 Trousdale Avenue, on the following dates:

  • Friday, April 28 from 9:00-11:30 am
  • Monday, May 1 from 3:30-5:30 pm
  • Thursday, May 4 from 1:00-3:00pm

If you cannot personally pick up your item, you may designate someone else to pick up for you. Please have them bring a printed or emailed proof of your winning item with your authorization so that we can release your item to them. For any questions, please call BCE at (650) 766-8969 or email Any items not claimed by May 30, 2017 will be forfeited and non-refundable.

Thanks to Our Volunteers

A large team of volunteers worked this entire school year to bring the event to life. Thank you for all of your time and effort!

Dinner Dance Team Chairs: Jaime Burton and Fabiola Price (Auction Co-Chairs), Kate Reed (Dinner Dance Chair), Kim Cannon Doren (Marketing Chair), Phuong Tran (Graphic Design Chair), Karen Lynch (Registration Chair), Lisa Hong (Registration Admin Assistant), Karen Lynch (Registration/Seating Chair), Erica Carmel and Eugene Podkaminer (Wine Coordinator Co-Chairs)

Volunteer Team: Felynn Haberecht (Volunteer Coordinator), Mark Haberecht (Volunteer Registration), Errica Lee (“Day of” Event Manager)

Fund-A-Dream Team: Hildur Carlen, Penny Crespo, Cam Daly, Angela Dubovsky, Jennifer Kulin, Sari McConnell, Christine O’Brien, Gaird Schlesinger, Michele Tatos, Katie Ward, Kendra Wehmeyer

Marketing Team: Jennifer Kulin, Ann Townsager, Amanda Rogowski, Liane Louie-Badua, Andrea DeMichele, Winnie Wong, Jennifer Colvin

Auction Team: Tram Nguyen (Live Auction Chair), Molly St. Clair (Silent Auction Chair), Stacy Nawrocki (Online Auction Chair), Amy Johnstone (Auction Clearing Chair), Kevin Lafferty and Arvind Raghavan (Auction Clearing Room), Alix O’Brien, Lisa Mudd, Gaby Nejasmich, (Creative Writers), Erica Jackson, Meredith Dunn (Greater Giving Data Entry Team), Sanchita Shetty, Kyong Yi (Physical and Virtual Packaging Co-Chairs), Liz Anderson (Program Coordinator/Editor), Karla Cahue (Program Graphic Designer)

Auction – Site Teams: Tania Forrest and Betsy Kitchens (Franklin Auction Reps), Nirmala Brandapali (Lincoln Auction Rep), Liz Anderson and Judy Gum (McKinley Auction Reps), Gena Dalziel and Michelle Roberts (Roosevelt Auction Rep), Jennifer Ellison Paz (Washington Auction Rep), Malinda Pauley (BIS), Ariane Trimuschat (Hoover)

Business Solicitation Team: Quynh Trinh, Liz Anderson, Emily Brady, Jamie Burton, Annette Doherty, Judy Gum, Amy Johnstone, Jennifer Kulin, Kate Reed, Paola Lancellotti, Irby Morvant, Tram Nguyen, Sari McConnell, Fabiola Price, Molly St.Clair, Kendra Wehmeyer, Alix O’Brien

Night of Event Volunteers: Lisa Janosky, Errica Lee, Anne Soler, Joscelyn Voegeli, Sabrina Jorgensen, Carol Palacio, Jimmy Aliaga, Mina Cima, Betsy Kitchens, Ipek Tunca, Deniz Tunca, Kara Gardner, Lesley Bowler, Amanda Rogowski, Rachell Kim, Michele McIlwain, Erica Carmel, Eugene Podkaminer, Deepika Ahuja, Elizabeth Wrotniewski, Winnie Wong, LinLin Ma, Maya Scofield, Kali Taylor, Katie Ward, Alan Skokan, Delyn Simons, Amy Grenier, Anita Huang, Michael Dybbs, Amna Mahmood, Natalie DeRanieri, Jill Johnson, Ginger Penn, Gary Andreacchi, Olivia Canniffe, Claire Cintel, Adel Sabirova, Evan McCulloch, Jen Liebhaber, Debbie Sodini, Gianluca Biccari, Elliott Margulies, Mike Reed, Abby Edling, Matt Edling


Get Ready for the BCE Dinner Dance and Auction

Are you ready for the Dinner Dance and Auction this Saturday? Here’s what’s new this year…

The program

First off, we’re going digital with this year’s Dinner Dance and Auction program, and it’s available now to download. After all, the Dinner Dance does fall on Earth Day this year. Check out all of the super cool silent and live auction items and start planning your bidding now. 

Silent auction

New this year, we’re starting the silent auction bidding at 2:00 pm on April 22, and ending at 9:00 pm. So while you are wrapping up the day’s events and donning that fiery hot semi-formal attire, you’ll receive an email with a link to start bidding. Like last year, all bidding will be done via your mobile phone. Check out these quick tips on mobile bidding, and make sure to have your phones charged and ready to go.


We’re excited to introduce Fund-A-Dream (formerly Fund-A-Need). It’s a new name with the same significant goal of going above and beyond just sustaining important resources and tools for our schools. This year, we’re striving to fund the dream of the new BSD Innovation Institute. The BSD Innovation Institute will provide expertise and resources to principals and teachers to develop science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) best practices and tools across the district. 

Thanks to our sponsors

Title Sponsor:  Swun Math 

Principal Sponsor: Wells Fargo

Scholar Sponsors: Big Red Softball Team, Caroline K. Huo – Fine Homes & Estates, inSite Design, Putnam, SummerHill Homes 

Supporting Sponsors: Backstrom McCarley Berry & Co., LLC, Ristorante Rocca, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Arts Ed Matters, Buckley Education, All Natural Stone 

Contributing Sponsors: Alain Pinel Realtors, Burlingame, Boston Private Bank and Trust, Burlingame Education Association, Councilmember Emily Beach, Dreiling Terrones Architecture Inc., The Garland Company, Peninsula Health Care District, Redwood Debris Box Service, Timberline Tree Service, Inc., TRG Architecture + Interior Design


One Day Left for the Online Auction

The BCE Dinner Dance Online Auction will close at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, April 18. So many great items, so little time! Here’s just a few of the items up for bid:




If you are the lucky recipient of some sizzling auction items, you’ll be notified after the auction closes. You can pick up your items at the Dinner Dance & Auction in the clearing room from 9:00 pm to midnight.

If you are not attending the Dinner Dance & Auction, you can pick up your items at the Burlingame School District office at 1825 Trousdale Avenue in Burlingame on the following days:

  • Wednesday, April 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Friday, April 28, 9:00 – 11:30 am
  • Monday, May 1, 3:30 – 5:30 pm


BCE’s A Fire and Ice Gala

Tickets go on sale on March 6 for BCE’s largest fundraiser of the year, the Dinner Dance and Auction. Don’t wait to get yours here – this event sells out in advance! 

Scholars Circle Members

If you’re a Scholars Circle member, you should have already received an email with instructions on how to purchase your tickets in advance. If you haven’t yet made your Scholars Circle donation, be sure to donate before April 1 to be recognized at the event. 

First Timers

If this is your first time attending the BCE Dinner Dance and Auction, see this post on what to expect. This year, this theme is fire and ice. Dress to impress and get ready to dance to the red hot tunes of the cover band Pop Fiction!

New This Year

When you purchase your tickets this year, you’ll also have the opportunity to buy a bag containing one mystery item. Each of the 100 bags, which cost $100 each, will have one super hot item, which could be a Kerns “Fire and Ice” diamond and ruby bracelet worth $6,500. Other items could be a $500 Sam Malouf gift certificate, a $20 Mokutanya Charcoal Grill gift card or a Halo Blow-Dry Bar gift card. Bags will be distributed at the event on April 22. 

The Online Auction for BCE’s Dinner Dance is now OPEN!

You don’t have to wait until the event on April 22 to bid on sizzling parties, summer camps (Galileo, Skyhawks and Steve and Kate’s), SF Giants and Warriors tickets, exciting vacation getaways and MUCH MORE!  The Online Auction runs through April 18.  So click HERE to start bidding and check back often, as we are adding new items daily!

Call for Volunteers

We need volunteers leading up to, during and after the event. This is a great chance to collaborate with fellow parents and members of the community to help support Burlingame School District. There are many ways to help, including decoration and auction set-up, registration, live auction spotters and more. See the full list of volunteer opportunities

Sponsor Spotlight

We’re thrilled to announce that for the second year in a row, we will have a title sponsor for the event – Burlingame School District’s math program, Swun Math. Other major sponsors include Wells Fargo and Putnam Subaru. Thank you for your support!