The director of a Manhattan nonprofit organization seeking to alleviate poverty and former city commissioner has filed for a seat on the Manhattan-Ogden school board.

Thrive! Flint Hills executive director Jayme Morris-Hardeman on Wednesday filed with the Riley County Clerk’s Office to seek a position on the USD 383 school board.

“I’ve been passionate about educational issues for many years, and this just felt like the right time to dedicate my time to the school board,” Morris-Hardeman told The Mercury on Wednesday.

Morris-Hardeman served four years as a Manhattan city commissioner, from 2005 to 2007 before losing a re-election bid on a coin flip. She served again from 2009 to 2011.

She is also an advocate supervisor at Sunflower CASA Project, working for victims of child abuse and neglect. She said her career experience provides her with a perspective on the vulnerable populations in the community.

“It gives me an opportunity to expand services for those vulnerable people,” Morris-Hardeman said. “I want every child to have the chance to succeed.”

Morris-Hardeman said she believes the Manhattan-Ogden school district is facing many important issues, including diversity, equity and inclusion for students and staff, allocation of resources in times of uncertain state funding, and a need to continue addressing class sizes.

“I’m not coming into this with a beef or some kind of issue,” Morris-Hardeman said. “I simply have the time to serve and would like to do that.”

Morris-Hardeman said a dedication to public service is something that is important to her family.

“I think if you have the ability to serve, you should do so in whatever capacity you can,” Morris-Hardeman said. “We could use more people volunteering all over our community in many different capacities.”

Morris-Hardeman is the first candidate to declare for the USD 383 board race.

The school board has three seats up for grabs with terms for current board president Jurdene Coleman, Karla Hagemeister and Katrina Lewison set to expire. As of Wednesday, none of those three have announced whether they will seek reelection.

The filing deadline is June 1. The general election will be Nov. 2. The city and school elections are non partisan.