FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — The Fairfax County School Board elected Elaine Tholen (Dranesville District Representative) as chair and Karl Frisch (Providence District Representative) as vice chair for a one-year term during the Board’s annual organizational meeting on July 13. The pair assumed office immediately following their election.
“It is an exciting time for our school district and community. With a new strategic plan now in place and a hard-working superintendent at the helm, we look forward with optimism to a time to think big as we work to provide excellence, equity, and opportunity for every student,” said Tholen. “We must work together to ensure our students have the best, cutting-edge educational experience possible. I am honored to serve as Board chair as we advance this important work in partnership with our families and the Board of Supervisors.”
Tholen began her term as Dranesville District Representative on January 1, 2020. A career educator, she has worked in elementary, middle, and high schools and in the administrative offices of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). For eight years, Tholen managed FCPS Get2Green, a district-wide, preK-12 program that promotes environmental stewardship among students and staff.
Previously, she was a Director and Treasurer for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. Before coming to FCPS, she worked with SAIC, focused on large environmental cleanups for the U.S. Department of Energy and in systems integration and program management for a Wall Street firm in Manhattan and Tokyo.
This past year, Tholen served as the Board’s Budget Committee chair, liaison to its Facilities Planning Advisory Council and Successful Children and Youth Policy Team, and as a member of its Public Engagement Committee. In past years, she served as Budget Committee vice chair, Audit Committee member, and liaison to the Park Authority. She was also one of the Board’s two representatives on the Joint Environmental Task Force, which worked with the Board of Supervisors, students, and community members to address climate and sustainability issues by charting a zero-waste and carbon-neutral future.
Tholen’s two sons are FCPS graduates. She has a BS in Science Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from the University of Maryland-College Park. She remains a Virginia-certified middle school science teacher.
“I am grateful to my colleagues for the opportunity to serve as vice chair of the Board, working together with parents and staff as we advance the student-centered focus of our new strategic plan,” said Frisch. “I remain, as always, committed to doing everything I can to help our world-class educators deliver on the promise of excellence, equity, and opportunity — to help every student achieve their full, unique, and limitless potential.”
Frisch began his term as Providence District Representative on January 1, 2020, becoming the School Board’s first openly LGBTQ+ member. Prior to joining the Board, he earned a reputation as an effective public policy advocate in our nation’s capital on various issues ranging from consumer financial protection and land conservation to student lending and government ethics.
Most recently, he served as executive director of Allied Progress, a consumer financial watchdog that sought to protect those targeted by predatory lenders and financial scammers. He also worked as staff for the Committee on Rules in the U.S. House of Representatives, which considers all legislation reported from other policy and fiscal committees to determine the scope of its eventual consideration by the full House.
This past year, Frisch served as the Board’s federal legislative liaison and as a member of its Audit and Public Engagement Committees. Previously, he was the City of Fairfax School Board and state legislative liaison. Additionally, he has chaired the Board’s Public Engagement and Governance Committees and, with Tholen, served as one of its two representatives on the Joint Environmental Task Force. Frisch’s policy work on the Board has been recognized with awards from the ACLU, Capital Pride, FCPS Pride, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, and the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.
In addition to the chair and vice chair, members of the Fairfax County School Board, whose terms run from 2020 to 2023, include Karen Keys-Gamarra (at-large), Abrar Omeish (at-large), Rachna Sizemore Heizer (at-large) Megan McLaughlin (Braddock District), Tammy Derenak Kaufax (Franconia District), Melanie Meren (Hunter Mill District), Ricardy Anderson (Mason District), Karen Corbett Sanders (Mount Vernon District), Laura Jane Cohen (Springfield District), and Stella Pekarsky (Sully District).