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Board of Ed's 'Mama Campbell' Advocates for Children's Futures

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – When Deborah Campbell ran for a seat on the Greenburgh Central 7's Board of Education, she did not have flyers or business cards, nor did she have a speech prepared for candidate's night. Nevertheless, she still received the highest number of votes in the election. How did she do it? With her spirit, said her friends and colleagues.

Campbell has three children, who have all gone through the GC7 schools. Throughout their education, Campbell said she worked in tandem with their teachers and staff workers to ensure that she always knew what was going on and could help her children at home.

"It was really important for me to be involved in my children's education because I really wanted them to make it and have the opportunity to go to college," Campbell said. "I became an advocate for them."

There was something about teenagers that Campbell really connected with, so she opened up her home as the hang out spot for her children's friends, and became lovingly known as "Mama Campbell." Always ready to offer an encouraging word, some children spoke to her about issues that they would not tell their parents.

In 2008 and 2009, parents, teachers, students and principals told Campbell that she should run for the board of education. Campbell wanted to be a part of the students' futures, but she did not know where she fit in. When she finally agreed to run for a seat in early 2011, the decision even shocked her.

As Campbell has extensive knowledge of the school system's history, now being on the board of education has given her another way to advocate for the children – and the chance to change things that did not work in the past.

"Everybody thinks it's clichéd to say that the children are our future, but it's true," Campbell said. "It's so important to have a parent's involvement. They really, really need to come out and be involved with their children to find out what's going on and what they need. I just don't want any of the kids to fall short. The difference is ours to make."

Campbell was born in Harlem and moved to Greenburgh 18 years ago. She currently works as an executive assistant for a reinsurance company in Greenwich.

"In the time that I'm on the board of education, I really want to be able to make a difference," Campbell said. "And I have three years to do it."

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