The education of children in Las Vegas is an important issue for Thalia Dondero and her husband, Harvey. Together they have worked to improve the quality of education in the city. Thalia Dondero arrived in Las Vegas in 1942 and married Harvey in 1945. Harvey Dondero had already begun his work in education and was teaching at Las Vegas High School. The newlyweds moved to the state capitol, Carson City, from 1946-1948 while he worked for the US Office of Education. The couple returned to Las Vegas in 1948.
Dondero first got involved with public education at the Mayfield Grade School. She became active in the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. At the same time, she was mentored by Maude Frazier, the superintendent for Las Vegas schools, whom she drove to and from meetings. It was this encouragement that later prompted her to seek public office.
Dondero did not limit her activity to the schools. She was active in the Service League and was the director of the Las Vegas Girl Scouts. She was also appointed to the Nevada State Parks Commission.
In 1972, Dondero made her first run for public office. She ran for the Nevada State Assembly but was defeated. She did not allow this defeat to stop her and ran for the Clark County Commission (CCC) two years later. Dondero was elected (the first woman commissioner) and served on the CCC for twenty years. During her time on the CCC she served as chair three times. Dondero made the news when she refused to act as secretary to the male members of the commission. She was defeated in 1994 by Myrna Williams. Dondero’s service on the Clark County Commission helped open doors for other women to serve without facing the same kind of discrimination she originally faced.
Dondero’s public service continued in 1996 when she was elected to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, where she continues to serve. As a regent, she works to improve higher education in the state.
Thalia Dondero made important contributions to the Las Vegas community over the last fifty years. Her dedication to public service continues to improve the education system and the overall quality of life in southern Nevada.
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