After Heather Arnet resigned her District 2 seat on the Pittsburgh school board, we advised Mayor Luke Ravenstahl -- who had the job of naming a replacement -- to put values and credentials above all else. He has certainly done that.
His choice -- Dara Ware Allen, 36, of Highland Park -- is eminently qualified. She is a mother of two and serves as the executive director of YouthWorks Inc., a nonprofit providing career preparation for at-risk youth. Before that, she was the director of Penn State's Educational Opportunity Centers of Southwestern Pennsylvania, a federal program that helps low-income youth and adults start or continue post-secondary education.
This professional resume, supplemented by community service on boards -- including the executive committee of the district's high school reform task force -- rests on the platform of an education well-matched to the job. The new board member, who was sworn in Wednesday night, has a bachelor's degree from Spelman College, a master of science degree in education from Duquesne University and a Ph.D. in work-force education and development from Penn State University.
In making the announcement, Mayor Ravenstahl said, "In the end, I chose Dr. Allen because of her extensive professional experience in working with young people and her proven commitment to the future of Pittsburgh Public Schools, our children and our city." No argument from us.
With such strengths, everything else is secondary -- but Dr. Allen does have bonus appeal. Her appointment will not reduce the complement of women on the nine-person board, which stands at four, and it will raise the number of African-American members to four in a district with 60 percent black enrollment. Further, Dr. Allen is not aligned with any particular faction and pledges to be open-minded in her votes.
Time will tell, but the mayor appears to have made a top-notch selection. We wish Dr. Allen the best in her term, which runs until December 2011.