During a special meeting on July 22, Indian-American attorney Ramya Kasthuri was appointed to serve on the Board of Education in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. Kasthuri is set to fill the seat left vacant after the death of board member Helen Kirsch in June.
A former educator, Kasthuri, will serve on the Board through December of this year, at which time a candidate chosen by voters during the November election will fill the seat.
Last year, Kasthuri ran for a seat on the Board but was eventually unsuccessful with only 1,920 votes. She came in fourth in a field of five candidates.
Kasthuri will be one of seven candidates seeking a seat on the Board, with two seats on the Board held by Doug Reinstein and Chris Reilly and Kirsch’s one-year unexpired term.
Kasthuri is going to be up against Sai Bhargavi Akiri to fill in the vacated seat of Kirsch. In the 2020 election for BoE, Akiri was also a candidate. She has finished with 18 per cent of the vote, just ahead of Kasthuri with 16 per cent.
When Kasthuri was running for Berkeley Heights’ Board of Education, she said that she wishes to be on the frontlines as new and best practices are created by the district for a school culture that is inclusive and respects the community’s growing diversity.
In a statement, she had said back then that she understands well the unique relationship between families, teachers and school administrators.
“I wish to apply my fresh perspective, professional expertise, and enthusiasm to the challenges our district faces – not only those that exist as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but also the various academic, personnel and administrative ones,” she had said in the statement.
“I am also a proud first generation Indian American and parent of black children (in the first and fourth grades). I believe my unique background and knowledge will provide a new perspective to the Board,” she had added.
Kasthuri has previously worked as associate general counsel at American International Group, Inc. (AIG).
“I can collaborate with other members of the Board and the district to develop innovative and compliant solutions to the more complicated issues faced by our town,” she had said.