Board of Trustees


Rahila Passi

Rahila Passi grew up in Texas attending public schools and Texas A&M University. After working in Dallas, London and New York for telecommunications and various high tech companies, she moved in 2006 to the Bay Area for a job at PayPal and has made a home in Redwood Shores. She was involved as a room parent at her children's preschools and elementary schools, but then increased her involvement after deciding to take a career break. She served on the SchoolForce board, the Sandpiper PTA Board including a 2 year term as PTA President, the BRSSD Budget Advisory Council, and a number of other initiatives at the district and school levels. Rahila was appointed to the Board of Trustees in April 2017 and elected in November 2018. In her spare time, she enjoys running, family hikes, and reading. Her children attend Ralston Middle School and Sandpiper School.


Suvarna Bhopale
Vice President

Suvarna Bhopale has been elected twice and has been serving as a Trustee since 2013. After receiving her law degree from Georgetown, she began her career as a litigator with Baker & Hostetler LLP. Subsequently, she served as Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. chapter of TiE and co-authored a book about the IITs, the equivalent of Ivy League, educational institutions in India. After the birth of her children, Suvarna took a hiatus from her career to focus on educational and public policy issues.

Suvarna serves on the following board committees: 2x2 Committee with Redwood City and Belmont City Council; 2x2 Committee with Sequoia Union High School District Trustees; Strategic Planning Committee; Safety Committee.

In addition to her board duties, Suvarna is active in developing enrichment programs in our schools such as National History Day, Theater, Model United Nations, Yoga/Mindfulness, Melody Mentors and Mock Trial (which she has taught since 2014). Suvarna lives in Redwood Shores with her husband and two children.


Amy Koo

Amy Koo has been on the Belmont-Redwood Shores School Board since 2013 and is currently the board liaison for Sandpiper and Nesbit Schools. Amy lives in Redwood Shores with her husband and two boys who attend district schools, and she enjoys volunteering as an Art in Action docent. She is a California School Boards Association (CSBA) Delegate Assembly member representing Region 5b (San Mateo County), a board member for the San Mateo County School Boards Association, and the Treasurer for the Asian Pacific Islander School Board Members Association (APISBMA). Amy works full time as a Director of Managed Markets Analytics at Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Foster City. She serves as the Business Impact Co-Lead for the Women at Gilead employee resource group which supports the career growth of women. Amy has a passion for ensuring that everyone reaches their full potential through an inclusive, supportive, and collaborative environment and her current priorities are to advocate for full and fair funding from the state, improve the district's communication and community engagement, and ensure that the stories of all Americans are included in our Social Studies curriculum. Amy is a 4th generation San Franciscan who holds a BS degree from MIT and MBA/MS degrees from Stanford. In her spare time, she enjoys singing/music, volleyball, traveling, and cheering for the SF Giants and 49ers.

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Jim Howard

Jim Howard grew up in Campbell, California and is a product of California public schools. He attended UC Davis where he earned a BS in Biochemistry. He moved down the state to Los Angeles where he earned a PhD from the UCLA Department of Biological Chemistry and his medical degree from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He moved back to the Bay Area in 2005, where he completed residency in General Pediatrics and fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at UC San Francisco, and studied stem cell-based therapies for severe lung injury. He later shifted the focus of his career to clinical medicine, medical education, and quality improvement, and moved his practice to Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland where he is an attending physician in the intensive care unit and director of medical simulation, among other things.

Dr. Howard’s children began school at Nesbit elementary in 2013. At Nesbit, he has been a member of the school site council and served two years as PTA president. He has been a champion for community building, public service, multi-lingual communication, food security, STEAM education, and equity. He has worked to stabilize local school funding through PTA and building relationships with School Force, local businesses and community service organizations, and was an integral member of the Measure K get out the vote committee. In Fall, he volunteers as a team doctor for Carlmont football.

Dr. Howard has been happily married to his wife of over 15 years, Dr. Cate Baker (a Family Practice physician who patiently puts up with his shenanigans), and his two daughters attend Nesbit K-8. 

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Samuel Leinbach

Sam is the father of a child who attended Central Elementary and is now attending Ralston Middle School. He and his wife have been living in the Bay Area since 1999 and in Belmont since 2012. Sam was appointed to the Board of Trustees in June 2019 and currently serves on the 2x2x2 Committee with Redwood City and Belmont City Council, and is liaison for Central, Fox, and Ralston schools.

Activities in the community include: Chairman of the Measure R and Measure K Parcel Tax Oversight Committee, Officer on the SchoolForce board, Executive Board member of the Central PTA, and Coach and Board member of the Belmont-Redwood Shores American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) Region 108.

Sam holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University and a certification from the Advanced Project Management school at Stanford University. His professional background is in the ecommerce software space managing the innovation and growth for software products and is a founder of a Silicon Valley software startup where he was a visionary and responsible for financial security and acquisition of the company. One of his favorite pastimes in Belmont is an exhilarating mountain bike ride in Waterdog Lake Park.


School Board Roles and Responsibilities