Shannon Silsby and Callie Sullivan announced on Sept. 9 the start of their campaign to gain two seats on the Darien Board of Education.

While both are running as individuals, the duo plan to campaign together as much as possible, since they share similar ideologies to progress Darien's Board of Education.

Silsby is a mother of four, a volunteer serving as the Royle School PTO co-chairman and is a senior brand manager for Sun Products in Wilton. She has held positions at Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

Silsby holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, where she was a North Carolina Fellow, and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Rochester, where she serves on the Alumni Advisory Board. She was an all-American athlete in high school, was captain of state championship teams, and she was one of the first girls to play baseball in her hometown of Williamsport, Pa.

"Continuing to give Darien's kids access to a stellar education will always be a top priority, but to do that our Board of Education needs to make some changes," she said. "The recent watershed of events with special education are indicative of the direction we are headed if we don't make improvements all around. We must take ownership of all pieces of the educational pie, and I want to be on the front line with the BOE to lead that charge."

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After serving several years as a district chairman on the Representative Town Meeting, Sullivan was elected to two terms on the Board of Selectmen and understands the challenges that the town faces -- fiscally and academically. A single mother of three teenagers, Sullivan is a community activist and business owner. She operates the educational publishing company Westwood Press, and has volunteered for organizations such as A Better Chance, the League of Women Voters and Tokeneke School. Sullivan also remains active in alumni relations for her alma mater, Williams College.

"Serving on the Board of Education is a tough job, and I commend all of the members for their devoted service," but with a growing list of concerns from parents, we need to introduce some fresh thinking, she said. Over time, every system develops cracks, so we need to seal them before they get any bigger. Let's stop paying lawyers and start paying educators. Let's focus on the future and invest in it. Our children will thank us for it."

To kick off their campaign, Silsby and Sullivan are encouraging Darien residents to share their opinions on the following questions:

Are you satisfied with our Board of Education?

What do you think would improve our schools?

What opportunities should we seize on behalf of our children?

What are your biggest concerns with the Darien school system?

People can email the campaign at or leave comments on or Tweet to @SilsSullforBOE.

"Darien is your town and my town, so this is our Board of Education," Silsby said.

"We want to partner with parents and leaders to make that hold true," Sullivan said.

The women have recruited a team of individuals who bring political and business experience to the campaign. Led by campaign manager and former Democratic Town Committee chairman John Davis, the group will advise the candidates on policy, fundraising, events, marketing and communications and finance.