Meet Federal Way school board candidate Tanaya Lanning

Tanaya Lanning - Contributed
Tanaya Lanning
— image credit: Contributed

After three days of posting the applications for the Federal Way Public Schools board of directors vacant position to the district website, the board narrowed the 12 eligibles down to five.

The District 5 board position became vacant after former board director Tony Moore resigned because he was convicted of felony theft last month.

Debra Stenberg, district spokeswoman, said legally the board can discuss qualifications of candidates for appointment to elective office in an executive session, however, no decisions or votes can be cast.

“Our legal counsel indicated that the best approach for narrowing the field is to discuss in executive session, then have a motion in open session to invite five for interviews,” Stenberg wrote in an email.

The five include Jeremy Cucco, Hiroshi Eto, Shelley Ko, Tanaya Lanning and Richard Champion.

After the executive session on May 22 at a regular meeting, board director Danny Peterson made a motion to move the five candidates, which was seconded by board vice president Geoffery McAnalloy.

Stenberg said the meeting’s notice was posted within 24 hours, the minimum requirement per state law, on the district’s website. The five applicants will be publicly interviewed on June 3, with a final decision expected on June 24 - to be announced at a public meeting.

The Mirror spoke with all five candidates. Here's more information about Tanaya Lanning:

Tanaya Lanning

Background:Lanning moved to Federal Way in 2000 after living in Deming, New Mexico. Lanning grew up in eastern Washington and Oregon and after graduating high school, she started in the workforce. She attended Bellevue College and Highline Community College and is working toward her bachelor’s degree in business administration. Lanning currently works as a marine maintenance dispatcher for the Port of Seattle, while her two daughters attend Valhalla Elementary School in Federal Way.

Experience: As an active community member, Lanning spends her spare time volunteering as the PTA president of Valhalla, she’s the girls age group coordinator with Federal  Way Mod Soccer Association, a trail worker with the Washington Trails Association, a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a Girl Scout troop leader. Lanning was also a former New Mexico volunteer firefighter and active member of Red Cross’s disaster team.

“I think my greatest experience comes from being a parent of children who are currently enrolled in the district,” she said. “… I have children going to school there and my heart is with this district. I really believe in the Federal Way school district and what they’re doing with our youth.”

School district improvements: But as much as Lanning loves the district, she also identified ways it could be improved.

“We do a really great job but we still have room to improve in parent engagement,” she said. “It’s apparent in talking, [hearing] comments of the community frustration over the stewardship of funds and maybe a little better ability to communicate what the board is doing and how that ties into the initiatives they are doing.”

She said she’s a connector of people and that others have called her a “student-centered advocate.”

Lanning acknowledges the district is in a season of change with the departure of the superintendent and the resignation of Moore, but she sees this as an opportunity to act, versus simply writing letters, as well as provide a voice to the families she’d be representing, if chosen.

“We are hard working parents, many of us live in high density housing, such as apartments and condos, many of us are single heads of household, many of us are transplants to Federal Way from all over the world, all of us wanting the best for your children,” she wrote in her application. “We are the people who flock to Old Country Buffet on Thursday’s family night because our kids can eat for 99 cents and our whole family can enjoy a sit-down meal at a restaurant and still pay our rent and electric bills.”


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