The thing that you first notice about Martha Fluor is her style. Martha’s vibrant personality, friendly demeanor, and “can-do” attitude is reflected in the bright colors she wears, her short, sassy hair style, not to mention her red shoes. This is a woman who has proven she can get a job done. Married for 36 years and the mother of five children plus the legal guardian for a grand daughter, Martha began her interest in education service as a Special Education Teacher for three years before quitting to get married and start a family. As her family got older, Martha returned to school employment as a Bilingual Instructional Aide. As is common with any well meaning and active parent, it was a local issue that caught Martha’s attention and fueled her role as an advocate: the placement of a 10 million gallon underground water tank on her kids’ school campus. When she fought this safety issue, instead of heeding Martha’s concerns, the school’s principal suggested that Martha run for school board if she was really serious in making a difference. So, that was exactly what Martha did because Martha was serious. In 1991, Martha won a seat on the Newport Mesa School Board (handily beating an incumbent) and has never looked back. Wanting to extend her area of influence, Martha ran for and won a seat on the Delegate Assembly, the policy making branch of the California School Boards Association (CSBA) in 1992 and later joined the organization’s Board of Directors as a Regional Director in 2005. Encouraged by fellow board members all over the state, Martha ran for the position of Vice-President of CSBA which would start her on the path of executive leadership. Her first attempt at the position was unsuccessful. But a year later, Martha ran again and won. The following year she was unanimously elected president-elect and in December, 2010, began her year of service as President of CSBA.
Describe Your Venture: I am the spokesperson and face of the California School Boards Association, the professional organization for over 1,000 school districts throughout the state. CSBA is member driven and has the largest contingency of elected officials than any other organization in California. I listen to school board members, offer advice and counsel. I oversee the Board of Directors and the Executive Board. I also represent the organization with the state’s Education Coalition which is made up of the leaders of PTA, School Boards, Administrators, Teachers, and Classified employees.
What set you on your path to your venture? Being involved in various community organizations but mostly my work with school boards beginning in 1991.
What skills/talents do you have that compliment your venture? I like meeting and working with all kinds of people. I am flexible, a strategic thinker, and collaborative. I really like delegating and getting people involved in decision making. I like to share recognition.
What fears did you have getting started? Public Speaking
What was involved in getting started? Creating a mindset that the position was like a job. I spoke to past presidents to find out how they handled the position to know what to expect. I had to clear my schedule of all of my other community commitments except for my board position with PBS SoCal. Having the support of my family was critical.
What were your start up costs? What are your ongoing costs? No start up costs to speak of. I do receive a stipend which covers all of my ancillary expenses that go along with the position.
How do you get the word out about your venture? I write a monthly article for School News, the organization’s official newsletter as well as a quarterly article for CSBA’s magazine. I will also send out emails to the general membership on occasion regarding political issues. I represent the organization at press conferences. At CSBA’s annual conference, I am in front of the thousands of attendees for three days, leading the activities.
How much time a week do you spend on your venture? Roughly 60 hours a month, but it varies. I live in Orange County and I usually have to travel to Sacramento 2-3 times a month for meetings or events. I also try to visit various education activities up and down the state.
What have you learned along the way? That the California School Boards Association is a great organization. There is a a lot of talent–some of it untapped– within this diverse organization.
What do you like best about your venture? Everything. I love meeting people and making a difference.
What do you see for you and your venture in the future? When my term as president is up, I have one more year to serve on the executive board as immediate past president. After that, I will have to figure out my role. I can see myself offering leadership development and encouraging others to get involved with local school boards. I will always be a voice for public education.