Photo by Mathew Trogner

Abusana Micky Bondo has served as District 1 representative on the Portland Board of Public Education since 2018 and is currently running for her second term. “We have over 60 languages spoken in the Portland Public Schools so there’s a need for more representation in the school board,” Bondo said. “When we vote for the budget every year, we need to make sure the investment reflects the needs of those students and addresses the achievement gap.”

Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bondo received most of her education in Belgium. By the time she moved to the U.S. in 1996, she already had a master’s degree in biochemistry. She continued her education here, earning an associate’s degree in education and business administration. “I was the first immigrant African woman elected to public office in Maine,” she noted. “It was like a calling card for my immigrant brothers and sisters. We need to step forward and make our voices heard. Because if you’re not at the decision making table, you may become the victim of the decisions made on your behalf.”

Since moving to Maine in 2009, Bondo has done quite a bit of work in Portland Public Schools. “I’ve always advocated for the voices of the voiceless, especially for marginalized students. As a mom, I always have to advocate for my kids, be there at parent-teacher conferences, understand what’s going on in school, and use my voice. I never saw many immigrant parents attending these meetings and that was alarming to me. So, I thought that someone had to step up in order to bring their voices to the table.”

Bondo said, “We’ve made steps forward since I was elected. We worked on the curriculum, and proposed the Pre-K expansion. Now we have free Pre-K for all kids, regardless of socio-economic background. Pre-K is the foundation for further academic achievement and hugely helpful to parents since we have few affordable childcare options.”

If re-elected, Bondo wants to continue to work on policies related to equity, sexual harrassment, discrimination, and discipline. “We have a high level of disciplinary action being used, which is just a pipeline into the juvenile system for many students of color,” she explained. “We were able to reframe the policy by giving a platform to the students’ voices. When we talk about the implementation of these policies, it’s not about just involving the victims, but also involving their families.” Bondo sponsored Portland’s first equity policy. “This policy will hold all other policies accountable, from the hiring process to the curriculum. People need to look at everything through an equity lens.” Bondo believes the correct implementation of policy is the key to real change. “We can write a policy, but if it doesn’t produce concrete action, it’s difficult to measure success.”