Mari Barke was elected to the Orange County Board of Education in June 2018 to represent the second district, comprised of Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach, Stanton, Sunset Beach, Westminster, and portions of Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley and Garden Grove. She currently serves as president of the board.
Barke graduated from California State University, Northridge with a finance degree. She spent much of youth and college years selling Levi’s at Starlite Drive-in in El Monte as part of a family business. Following her graduation from CSUN, Barke spent a dozen years in the insurance industry, progressing from underwriter to commercial business unit manager. Even though she enjoyed her career, she decided to return to the family retail business in order to be able to spend more time raising her children.
Since 2016 Barke has devoted much of her time to community work. While volunteering at a non-partisan California think tank, she discovered a passion for education. Barke wanted to make sure that every child in Orange County had the same educational choices that her children enjoyed. She became very interested in public charter schools, parent unions and parental choice. Mari believes that every child deserves access to a great education, and they should be able to choose whether they want to attend a traditional public school, a public charter school, a private school or be homeschooled. Every child is unique and therefore should have choices. She feels parents and family members are in the best position to decide what is best for their children.
Barke began helping the Parent Unions in Santa Ana by teaching English as a second language (ESL) to adults and supporting their events. At about the same time Mari decided she could really make a big impact on Education in Orange County by running for the Orange County Board of Education.
In addition to consulting at a non-partisan California think tank, Barke is an active member of her community, where she is an ambassador for the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce and sits on the board of directors for the Cypress Chamber of Commerce. She also donates time to Fisher House in Long Beach.
In addition to her bachelor’s degree in finance from California State University, Northridge, Barke holds chartered property casualty underwriter (CPCU), chartered life underwriter (CLU), and chartered financial consultant (ChFC) designations.