Downers Grove Residents Run as Slate for District 99 Board of Education


Last updated 4/20/2023 at 7:57pm

Ken Dawson

December 12, 2022 – Downers Grove, Illinois - Downers Grove residents Kara Casten, Ken Dawson and Don Renner have announced their candidacies for the upcoming District 99 Board of Education election. The election will be held on April 4, 2023 to fill three openings for the seven-member volunteer school board. No current board members are seeking re-election.

As professionals, volunteers and parents of former, current and future District 99 students, the three candidates are running as a slate.

"The three of us come from diverse backgrounds and political affiliations, but what unites us is that we all care about the future of our schools," said Ken Dawson, District 99 board candidate. "The fact that we're running together demonstrates that we're natural collaborators and listeners, and that we know that we're stronger as a team. I'm proud to be affiliated with Kara and Don."

Dawson and his wife Donna have been residents of Downers Grove since 1998. Their son Brian attended Kingsley Elementary and O'Neill Middle School, and then graduated from Downers Grove South High School in 2018. He was a 2022 graduate of the University of Southern California. Dawson has over fifteen years of operations management experience at McDonald's Corporation and LifeTime Fitness and has decades of experience leading boards, including for BBF Family Services, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes and La Rabida Children's Hospital.

"Now is the time to unite our community," said Don Renner, District 99 board candidate. "Together, Ken, Kara and I want to ensure that the focus of this board is on continuing to ensure a high quality public education for all students."

Renner and his wife Heidi have been residents of Downers Grove since 2010 and have three daughters, including Hannah, a sophomore at Downers Grove North High School, and Rebecca and Caroline who are in sixth grade and fourth grade, respectively, at Hillcrest Elementary. Renner is a partner in the law firm of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. providing tax and estate planning services. He is an active member of the community, presently serving as President of the Grove Express Foundation, Treasurer of the Roadrunners Soccer Club and committee member of the Village of Downers Grove Historic Preservation and Design Review Board. From 2015 to 2019, Renner was a District 99 school board member and instrumental in leading the passage of the $136.6 million referendum in 2018, which resulted in substantial facility renovations at both North High and South High.

"All three of us strongly believe in continuing the development of equity across both high schools," said Kara Casten, District 99 board candidate. "In addition, we are aligned in our mission to support the development of our diverse students at District 99."

Kara Casten

Casten and her husband Sean moved to Downers Grove in 2007 with their daughters Gwen and Audrey. Both girls attended Pierce Downer Elementary, Herrick Middle School and Downers Grove North High School. Gwen graduated North High in 2022 and Audrey is currently a sophomore. Casten currently works as an associate vice president of customer experience at Kemper in Chicago. An avid volunteer at both District 58 and District 99, Casten also served on District 99's 12-member core planning team to guide the development of the district's strategic plan.

For more information about the candidates, email [email protected] In short order, the candidates will be establishing a website and social media pages in support of their campaign to serve as members of the Board of Education for District 99.



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