Dr. Darshana R. Patel, Commissioner

Darshana R. Patel, Ph.D. is a scientist, elected official, and community leader with professional experience in board governance, education policy, and project management working towards raising the level of local civic engagement. Through her combined formal educational experience from earning a B.A. in Biochemistry at Occidental College, a Ph.D. in Biophysics from UC Irvine, and working in biotech research at Genentech in the Bay Area, she has developed and continually applies a collaborative approach to problem-solving.

Darshana is in her second term as an elected Trustee of the Poway Unified School District Board of Education (first elected in 2016) and is the current Vice-President of the Board. Through this position, she serves as a Delegate to the California School Boards Association (since 2018) and is an active member of the CSBA Legislative Committee. Additionally, she is the President of the San Diego County School Boards Association, a county-wide representative body furthering responsible board governance and public education advocacy throughout San Diego County. Darshana shows broad commitment to her community through her service as a Commissioner for the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs, a Member of the San Diego AAPI Coalition, and as an Advisor on the Hindu Americans of San Diego Board. Additionally, Darshana is a member of the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee, a CADEM Delegate, and a member of the SDPD Northeastern Division Captain’s Advisory Board. Since moving from the Bay Area to San Diego in 2010, she has held executive positions on the Rancho Peñasquitos Planning Board, Rancho Peñasquitos Town Council, elementary school PTA, and Education Foundation Board.

Darshana has been recognized for her contributions to the San Diego region though the San Diego County School Boards Association First Term Board Member of the Year in 2019 and was recently recognized as a 2022 City of San Diego Woman of Distinction.

As second-generation, American-born Indian woman, Darshana understood early on that success comes primarily from persistence, coupled with dedication and collaboration. These three qualities have allowed her to enjoy challenges, become a life-long learner, and develop a passion to create opportunities for others. Darshana lives in the Rancho Peñasquitos community of San Diego with her husband and three daughters who attend Poway Unified schools.