Meet the School Board Candidates: District 3 (Part 2)

In this post, I’ll share what I’ve learned from what I believe to be reliable Internet sources about two of the four candidates for School Board from District 3: Kathy Ryan and Erika Donalds.

All Collier County voters can vote for one candidate from each of the three districts up for election in the August primary election, regardless of where you live or your party affiliation.
Sources I’ve reviewed for this post include the following:

Kathy Ryan

Kathy Ryan was a teacher, counselor and administrator for 37 years. Thirty of those years were spent in Collier County; 28 in Immokalee. Her campaign slogan is “Ryan Supports Education.” She says she wants to “help make a difference and bring the best education possible to all of Collier County’s children.”

Ryan seems to have no online presence (website, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter). Source of all biographical information is a resume provided by the candidate.

Ryan previously ran unsuccessfully for the School Board in 2010 and 2006.

Educational Background
  • Ed.D. – Educational Administration and Supervision / Florida Atlantic University (1979)
  • M.A. – Guidance / Michigan State University (1965)
  • B.A. – Social Science / Michigan State University (1962)

Professional Experience

  • Detroit Public Schools (MI) / Substitute Teacher (1963)
  • Chippewa Valley High School (MI) / Teacher (1963-1967)
  • Roseville High School (MI) / Counselor (1968-1970)
  • Collier County Public Schools
    • Immokalee Middle School / Counselor (1970-1978)
    • Immokalee High School / Teacher -18 years; Curriculum Dean – 1 year (1978-1997)
    • Immokalee Middle School / Counselor (1997-1998)
    • Summer School / District Administrator; Assistant for Alternative Programs (1998-2000)
  • Richard Milburn Academy / Start-up Coordinator – Collier site (2002-2004); Director – Ft. Myers site (2004)

Leadership Positions – Volunteer

  • Collier County Public Schools – High School Academic Competition; Middle School Scholar Bowl; Mock Trial; Know Your County Government; Middle School Debate (2000-2002; 2004-present)
  • League of Women Voters of Collier County – Education Committee Chair (2003-2006); Director (2004-2006)
  • American Association of University Women – Director (2011-2013)
  • Florida Council for the Social Studies – Director (2003-2008)
  • Collier County Retired Educators Association – Treasurer (2003-2013)
  • Florida Retired Educators Foundation – Director (2008-2009)

Affiliations (partial listing)

Campaign Finance

Ryan raised $4,364 in monetary contributions and no in-kind contributions, and spent $1,897 through July 11, 2014. Her largest contributions to-date:
  • $1,000 – Karen K. Clegg, Naples, on 2/24/14
  • $1,000 – Sheilah M. Crowley, Naples, on 4/15/14
  • $300 – Anna U. Allen, Naples, on 4/16/14
  • $250 – Stephen J. Clegg, Naples, on 4/16/14
  • $244 – Personal contribution to the campaign, various dates 1/2/14 – 6/1/14


Erika Donalds
Erika Donalds is Controller and Partner at Dalton, Greiner, Hartman, Maher & Co., LLC , a New York-based investment group. She is also a founding member and President of Parents ROCK (Parents’ Rights Of Choice for Kids), a nonprofit founded by Collier County parents that supports and advocates for parents’ rights and parent choice, and works to influence policies and legislation on state and local education issues. She is also an Advisory Board Member and Director of Operations for Mason Classical Academy, a Hillsdale College public charter school opening in Collier County in Fall 2014. Her campaign slogan is “Determined to Make a Difference.” She says, “Positive changes are needed in our schools. I will be a bold, effective advocate for students, parents and all citizens.”
Donalds makes exceptional use of 21st century technology in her campaign. Her website (, Facebook and Twitter (@ErikaDonalds – 385 followers) presence enable her to share video clips, highlight endorsements, promote campaign events and more. She has 500+ connections on LinkedIn.
Recently, Donalds has used robo-calls to further promote her candidacy. I received one on July 21 from Congressman Curt Clawson (click here) asking me to “vote for my friend, Erika Donalds,” and on July 23 I received one from Donalds herself (click here ) asking for my vote, and that I return my absentee ballot “today.” I have not received robo-calls from any other School Board candidates.
Donalds, her husband and three children (ages 10, 6 and 2) live in North Naples.
  • MAcc, Accounting / Florida Atlantic University (2006)
  • BS, Accounting / Florida State University (2002)
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – Licensed in Florida since 2007

Leadership Positions – Volunteer

  • Collier County Republican Executive Committee / member
  • Republican Women’s Club of Naples / member
  • SWFL Citizens Alliance.  A “coalition of citizens and grassroots groups working together through education, outreach and community involvement to advance the ideals and principles of liberty [which they] believe … include but are not limited to individual rights, free markets, and limited government.”
  • Collier 912 Freedom Council / Founding member. This organization’s “goal is to provide resources for Americans to help them take back our Republic based on the ideas of our Founders and return America to the land of opportunity it was intended to be.
  •  “Daybreak” on 92.5FM Fox News Radio / Education Correspondent
Advocacy Activities
Last June, the NaplesDaily News reported that “Erika Donalds, a Laurel Oaks Elementary School parent, … spearheaded a petition with a reported 500-plus signatures backing the retention of Sports Club.” Soon, Erika led others to form Parents ROCK. The group’s websiteand, more recently Facebook Page, chronicle the group’s activities. It is important to be aware of them, their issues and their advocacy activities as part of Donalds’ past leadership and interactions with the the School Board and Superintendent.
Campaign Finance
Donalds raised by far the most and largest number of campaign contributions of any School Board candidate to-date: $39,674 in monetary contributions comprised of 34 cash contributions totaling $1,196 and 381 contributions by check. Her largest contributions to date:
  • $1,000 each from Lane Beatty, Pam Beatty and Jack Tymann, Naples, in 3/14
  • $1,000 from Congressman Curt Clawson, Bonita Springs, on 5/20/14
  • $1,000 from Sawyer Smith, Ft. Myers, on 6/29/14
  • $500 each from 14 individuals from Naples or Bonita Springs, on various dates

Other contributions from names I recognize include:
  • $500 each from Ann R. and former State Representative Thomas R. Grady, on 3/27/14 (included in the 14 noted above)
  • $250 from Sam J. Saad, Jr, Naples, on 3/26/14
  • $250 from Teresa Heitmann, Naples City Council, on 6/16/14
  • $250 from Prosperity Florida PC, a political committee chaired by Thomas R. Grady, on 4/1/14
  • $250 from Todd E. Gates, Bonita Springs, on 4/9/14
  • $250 from Frank Schwerin, Naples (former chairman of the Collier County Republican Party), on 4/29/14
  • $200 from Keith O. Flaugh, Marco Island (SWFL Citizens Alliance), on 3/26/14
  • $200 from Linda Penniman, Naples City Council, on 4/10/14
  • $100 from Margaret Sulick, Naples City Council, on 7/1/14
  • $50 from Sherwin “Doug” Finlay, Naples City Council, on 7/1/14

 Donalds also reported $602 in in-kind contributions, and spent $13,133 through July 11, 2014.  
Stay tuned for a similar post about the District 5 candidates, Thomas Andler and Roy Terry. As always, comments – and any errors or omissions of note – are welcome.
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