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Mila Koumpilova, Published June 19 2009

Hohnadel joining Moorhead School Board for second stint

The newest Moorhead School Board member is no newcomer to the board, and she’s a leader in the local Latino community and children’s advocate board members say would hit the ground running.

On Thursday members appointed Sonia Mayo Hohnadel, who served with most of them from 2002 to 2005, to fill the spot vacated by Michael Thrasher. They said her experience on the board was hard to pass up in these trying times for the district.

“Given what we’re looking at in the immediate future of our district, we need someone who can come on board relatively quickly,” said member Cindy Fagerlie.

Hohnadel will join the board next month, as the district considers approaching voters for help in a fall levy referendum,

Members interviewed her and four other finalists for the position, out of 11 applicants. In her interview, Hohnadel, communications coordinator and administrative assistant to the provost for Tri-College University, stressed her extensive community involvement, especially in the area of education.

Current or recent gigs include a governor’s appointment to Minnesota’s Council on the Affairs of Chicano/Latino People, the YWCA Empowerment for Girls Advisory Committee and the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership board.

“I’ve been a proponent – vocally and publicly – of education,” she said, adding that she has the ear of state and federal lawmakers.

The daughter of migrant farm laborers from south Texas, she was the single mom of daughters who graduated from Moorhead High School. She now has a grandson about to start kindergarten in the Ellen Hopkins Elementary Spanish immersion program.

“My passion in working with the district was very apparent because people ask me, ‘Why don’t you run for school board again?’ ” said Hohnadel. “The passion is still there.”

Board members who worked with Hohnadel vouched for her commitment. Member Michael Siggerud, who made a motion to appoint her as fellow members

considered delaying a decision until Monday, noted her advocacy for children and her unique perspective as a Latina.

The members present – Siggerud, Fagerlie, Kris Thompson and Karin Dulski – voted unanimously to appoint Hohnadel. She will serve until January 2011 and make $700 per month.

Board members said choosing among five strong finalists was a tough task. The other finalists were Rebecca Blanshan, Laurie Johnson, David Schuman and Terri Bourcy Smith.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529