When Heather Morrison saw that uneaten food and milk from the lunch program at her daughter’s school were being tossed in the trash, she set out to change that. After extensive research and talking to the principal, the school district’s Nutrition Services director and other parents, she helped start a food donation program and lunch recycling program at Longfellow Elementary School.
Three years later, the parent/student/school collaborative now known as the Longfellow Green Team diverts about 50,000 pounds of would-be waste from landfills each year. The program is so successful, it has been expanded to other LBUSD campuses and won the national Green Ribbon Schools Award from the U.S. Department of Education in 2012.
While Morrison is still active on the Green Team, she is volunteering in another way too: as a member of the Measure K Citizens’ Oversight Committee. Just beginning her second two-year term, the Bixby Knolls mother represents parents throughout the district by reviewing Measure K expenditures.
She also serves as a link between parents and the school district by sharing information about Measure K projects.
“The most common question I am asked is how the school district has money for building but not for more personnel or salaries,” said Morrison. “I explain that Measure K is a school bond initiative that, by law, is restricted to funding school building and renovation. But this is hard for people to grasp when they see other needs.”
As someone who reviews financial statements quarterly for Measure K, Morrison said she is impressed with how well managed the program is. “There is a high level of professionalism, organization and transparency that makes me confident that Measure K funds are well spent,” she said.
She noted that school renovations can impact an entire neighborhood and cited the largest Measure K project, the major renovation of Jordan High School, as a key example. “It’s well known that many people from North Long Beach feel that the renovation is long overdue,” she said. “We are fortunate that Measure K now makes it possible for us to fund renovations at Jordan High and to build new schools like McBride High.”
The Canadian-born Morrison is married to Neil Navin, a chemical engineer, and they have a daughter, Cecilia, 12, who attends Hughes Middle School and a son, Patrick, 11, a Longfellow student.
Aside from her extensive volunteer work, Morrison holds a key position as communications deputy for Long Beach Councilmember Al Austin of the 8th District. “I’m a big believer in civic engagement and I am interested in helping make my community better. I feel it’s important to pass this sense of engagement on to our children too.”
A former Long Beach Grunion Gazette reporter, she has also worked for more than 20 years as a corporate private investigator.
After graduating from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, she earned a masters degree in linguistics from UCLA. Morrison has studied and lived in Ancona, Italy and St. Petersburg, Russia, and speaks Russian, French and Italian. With her husband, she has lived in Saudi Arabia, England and Switzerland.
After traveling the world, Morrison said she is delighted to have finally found a home in Long Beach.