Links included for informational purposes only and do not constitute any affiliation with this campaign.

My pronouns are she/her. Thida is pronounced Thee-dah and Cornes is pronounced Cornz. 

Childhood and Adolescence

My mom is Burmese, and my dad is English. They met and married in London. While my mom was pregnant with me, they took a mostly driving trek from England to Thailand. I was born one night in Bangkok and lived in Thailand until I was two. 

My parents first noticed I had a disability when I was two but at the time movement disorders were poorly understood so I didn’t receive that diagnosis. I have a nonprogressive neurological disability called dystonia that causes me to jerk, tilt my head and move differently. It sometimes affects my speech, causing me to stumble over words. I have a poor spatial sense, don’t always notice changes in surfaces, or walk in a straight line or at a regular rhythm. I only learned this last part later when I got my first service dog. I used to fall about once a week, but neurologists thought I had weak ankles. So if you see me doing any of the above, that’s just me. One of the things I’ve found that helps me with my voice is to stand, so I often stand to speak if I need to project my voice.

My parents knew I was smart, but top neurologists insisted I must be “mentally retarded”, a term I’m glad that is no longer acceptable. Ironically my mum knew what an intellectual disability looked like because her youngest sister was born with Down Syndrome.

My parents then moved back to London until we emigrated to the US. I attended US public high school. As a mixed-race disabled immigrant, I struggled, but high school was the first school I felt I belonged. I want that sense of belonging for every student at MVLA.

I graduated from high school when I was 16 and took a gap year in London where I visited the top neurologist of movement disorders at the time, Dr. Marsden. He diagnosed me with a movement disorder, which was a revelation.

I went to Bryn Mawr College. I didn’t know the name for who I was, but once I did, I came out as bisexual and had my first girlfriend and boyfriends. Decades later, I learned the term demisexual, which also describes me. Language matters and I wish I’d known this term. It would have saved me and others a lot of confusion.

I received my BA from Bryn Mawr. I moved to the Bay Area and worked at a series of tech startups. I got an MBA at UC Berkeley while working full-time. I moved to Mountain View 20 years ago. I married a Chinese American, and we have two wonderful kids whose educational paths have been different. One is a driven high-achieving student who’s overcome the stress and pressure endemic to MVLA schools and the other is clever with amazing social skills, has been in special education since age three including MVLA but has succeeded with parental support. 

Civic Engagement

My first civic engagement in Mountain View began in 2008 when my son was three and fell through a gap in a playground structure. He was fine, but Parks and Rec had added ADA-compliant steps without considering whether this would also make it accessible to younger kids. I applied for the Parks and Recreation Commission and served for 8 years including as Chair. At that time, 8 years was the maximum time one could be appointed.

My first Parks and Rec Commission meeting began my engagement with the Spanish Speaking community who wanted a park in my own neighborhood, Shoreline West. We created Mariposa the first park with natural elements, and several other parks, created a sanctuary for burrowing owls, Shoreline Fields, and added a playground to McKelvey Ball Park. We also created the first tree canopy plan. When I termed out, I encouraged Devon Conley who had been my son’s Kindergarten teacher to apply.

In 2008, I got my first service dog, which changed my life. I didn’t realize how much time and effort I spent thinking about walking until suddenly I didn’t. I also stopped falling. My service dog walks in a straight line and serves as a metronome. He also picks things up, opens and closes doors, and turns off and on lights. I get my service dogs free of charge from Canine Companions an amazing organization.

I also started volunteering in the classroom. At Castro Elementary Dual Immersion, I mostly spent time with Spanish students who fell into the achievement gap. I did my best to convey my passion for reading and a growth mindset. At Stevenson Elementary, I continued helping struggling students in all subjects, led small groups, graded papers for teachers, and chaperoned field trips.

From 2010 to 2013, I served on the Northwest Regional Board of Canine Companions helping to raise money and awareness of the organization and service dogs in general.

From 2012-14, I served on the Stevenson Site Council, and I also served on the PTA. I got involved because I saw that new teachers weren’t getting the support they needed in fundamentals like classroom management. We worked with teachers and Mountain Whisman School District (MVWSD) to have teachers designated as mentor teachers at Stevenson. Being teachers, they worked together and began a program. This teacher mentor program later became districtwide.

In 2012, after the tragic death of William Ware in my neighborhood, I co-founded Great Streets Mountain View (GSMV) to improve the safety of our streets for all residents, such as adding blinking crosswalks over Shoreline Blvd. GSMV recently merged with our sister organization and is called Mountain View Streets for All.

I discovered that people didn’t understand how MVWSD was using its bond measure so since I had an MBA, in 2013 I joined the bond measure committee to make the budget readable.

MVWSD staff then asked me to join every district committee, the school boundaries, and the facilities committee to renovate schools and build 2 new schools. We found a way to add two special education classes at no cost to the district. This is the kind of innovative collaboration I want to bring to the Board.

I also joined the League of Women Voters Education Committee.

I attended Graham Middle School’s PTA meetings. The principal would come to the meetings so I both understood what was happening at the school and district level and gave feedback. In particular, the state had adopted Common Core and MVWSD was adopting it.

The new math curriculum caused confusion among many parents, but through dialogues with the principal, teachers, and Trustees, I understood that Common Core is designed to teach students the fundamentals of math instead of memorizing formulas. Doing the same math problem in several different ways allows students to explain their reasoning.

I got all the way to Calculus AB by memorizing formulas without understanding the fundamentals. It wasn’t until I studied for the GMAT (the standardized test for the MBA) that I understood that the letters in an algebraic formula represent numbers. By this point, I’d written a lot of software programs, and you often use a letter to represent a number, but to me, this was programming, not Algebra.

Political Engagement

In 2015, I graduated from Emerge, a training program for women who want to run for office.

In 2016, I ran for Mountain View City Council. Four incumbents joined the race, so it was tough. 2016 feels so long ago after everything we’ve been through. I feel MVLA needs both the issues I’m representing and my unique skills and background.

More Civic Engagement

In 2017, the City Council formed the Environmental Sustainability Task Force. I was elected Vice Chair. We created policy recommendations to combat climate change. The policy I was responsible for – electrification of all new buildings became City policy.

After the Task Force finished its work, I was invited to be on the Board of Carbon Free Mountain View.

Around this time, my daughter entered an MVLA high school. Like many parents, I found the amount of information overwhelming. MVLA has introduced ParentSquare to better organize information. I talked to a first-year parent who said ParentSquare helps but still needs work. So if elected, I will work on it.

Later my son entered MVLA Special Education.

I was invited to be on the Board of my church Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto. I served my term and then stepped off because I decided to run for MVLA.

From 2020-2022, I was on the Board of the League of Women Voters, helping to modernize our systems. I’m taking a leave of absence because Board members can’t run for office, but I’m continuing my work as Database Manager.

In roughly the past year

In May 2021, I received my fourth service dog Jeeves III. Service dogs are like people and retire. My third service dog Nakoma is retired with me and my family as a much-beloved pet.

In spring 2022, I was invited to be on my church’s campus task force reimaging the campus for a possible capital campaign

Academic & Professional Background

Davis High School, California 1985

I graduated when I was 16, so I took a gap year in London.

BA. Bryn Mawr Political Science 1990

MBA UC Berkeley Haas 2001, night MBA, full MBA earned while working full-time

I created my own computer consultant company in 1991 in Bryn Mawr.

In 1994, I moved to the Bay Area and worked in a series of tech startups.

Most recent past position: Director in tech. I built five teams that all worked together and reported high job satisfaction that created tools to monitor what was then cutting-edge broadband.