2021 Vestry nominees

Four new Vestry Members are elected to replace the outgoing vestry members whose terms end at Pentecost. The Vestry is the governing body of the temporal and corporate affairs of the parish, the equivalent of a board of directors. Election at the Annual Meeting is required by Section 11.13 of the Canons of the Diocese of California. The congregation also selects Diocesan Deanery Delegates at the annual meeting. St. Mark’s is a member of the Peninsula Deanery, a body of lay and clergy members who serve as liaisons between individual parishes and the administration of the Diocese. Deanery Delegates represent the parish at the annual convention of the Diocese.

This year’s Vestry nominees are:

Margalynne Armstrong

I was born in Chicago, one of six children. In the twentieth century, I moved to Berkeley to attend law school and moved to San Francisco.  I met my husband Andrew in law school. We will celebrate (God willing) our 35th anniversary this year. My spouse is not a member of our parish. We moved to Palo Alto in the 90’s when my now adult daughter was one year old, then to Portola Valley eleven years ago. I teach at Santa Clara University School of Law.

I attended Roman Catholic services as a child, then Society of Friends (Quaker) meeting in college and also when I first lived in San Francisco. I became Episcopalian in 1991 was formally baptized (long story) and received at Grace Cathedral. When I moved to Palo Alto I attended St. Mark’s on the advice of then Canon Precentor, Michael Merriman. I give you this information to show off my knowledge of some of the more arcane intricacies of the Episcopalian Church.

At St. Mark’s I have served on the vestry three times, as Junior Warden and Senior Warden (twice) and led our first Long Range Planning process. I’ve led children’s classes, book discussion groups, programming on racial issues, been the MC for a couple of parish celebrations and presented scandalous entries in our Lenten film series. Most recently I have been a diocesan delegate, and am on the diocesan Committee for Canons. I was also on the most recent Bishop search committee. Despite this history I was asked to submit my name for consideration as a vestry member again, and, due to a pointed sermon by Rev. Nikki Wood, agreed to do so.

Suzanne Bell

I am a partner in the area of technology and intellectual property transactions (think big technology development collaborations) at a large international law firm. My husband Bert is a software engineer and he and a partner have a small consulting firm that provides tools and services for the design, analysis and optimization of energy systems. We have three daughters. Joanna is the Homeless Emergency Aid Program Analyst for San Mateo County; she obtained a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School last May with a focus on Social and Urban Policy. Amelia is a third grade teacher in San Francisco and at the same time is working on her Master’s in Education and Teaching Credential. Priscilla is an Associate Project Engineer with a global consulting & engineering firm for renewal energy projects; she is based in Raleigh, N.C. and works on solar projects.

We joined St. Mark’s in the early ‘90s’s (before Matt’s arrival!) and raised our daughters in the church (though they are not churchgoers, something must have stuck since they are pursuing professions in elementary education, homelessness and climate change). Bert and I have each done multiple tours on the vestry and serve the parish in other ways too. I was co-chair of both our building campaign (when we remodeled and expanded the Parish Hall, offices, classrooms and kitchen) and later, our landscape campaign (you’re welcome for the labyrinth), and I’m a Board member of the 564 Colorado Corporation (a subsidiary of St. Mark’s that owns a house on Gaspar Court and generates a monthly contribution). Bert is a member of the Buildings and Grounds Commission. I am a cradle Episcopalian (choir, youth group, junior altar guild) and Bert grew up Presbyterian then was received into the Episcopal Church at St. Mark’s by Bishop Swing.

I’m writing this on January 17, and still reflecting on the service and the Forum from this morning. Matt preached on  how we can – and how we must – listen and learn from the past and transform through acknowledging our “broken hearts” and, simply, loving our neighbor (my comment to Bert was that I have some work to do there), and Matt introduced a new Episcopal Church initiative that calls us to do just that (I’m sure we’ll hear more about that). Parishioner Bill Newsome (Stanford Medical School professor) presented a Forum on Francis Collins (Director of NIH) and the remarks that Dr. Collins made when receiving an award for science and religion, and Bill shared what moved him to be willing to talk about his faith as a scientist. Attendees this morning included a former parishioner who moved away and visitors attracted by the Forum. Today encapsulated for me all that I love about St. Mark’s, and what I hope for our future. I love that Matt challenges us. I love the intellectualism of the congregation and the way it is reflected in world-class preaching and programming. I love that the pandemic has shown us a new way for people to do church online. And I love the commitment to outreach and, more particularly, social justice. What I hope for the future is to continue to grow as a diverse community where people explore, sustain and live out their faith in ways that suit today’s busy lives and that we manifest our commitment as a parish to social justice in ever-more impactful ways.

Andrew Bridges

I was born in, and grew up in, Atlanta in the late 1960s and 1970s.  I attended the Unitarian church with my mother but found a strong early influence in a Methodist Youth Fellowship, to which friends had invited me, in my early teens.  I came to Stanford as an undergraduate, where I majored in Greek and Latin, but I didn’t dream of settling in California.  I met my wife Rebecca Lyman in 1979 when we both studied at Oxford. In 1984, after I had finished law school and was clerking for a federal judge in Atlanta, I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church. 

In 1985 Rebecca and I married, I moved to Berkeley to join her, and I started law practice in SF.  We moved to the Peninsula in 1996.  As a lawyer I represent technology and Internet companies in litigation challenges to their business models by other industries (especially the entertainment industry) that feel threatened by the Internet. I also litigate and advise on broader issues of copyright, trademark, advertising, freedom of speech/association, and Internet law. I am a partner at Fenwick & West in Mountain View.  I have dropped to a 60 percent workload to start focusing on long-deferred reading and travel that interest me.

I have served on the vestries of St. Mark’s Berkeley (including stints as stewardship chair and Senior Warden) and Christ Church Portola Valley.  I have also served on nonprofit boards of Theatreworks, the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and The Stanford Daily Publishing Corporation (which I currently chair).  I find St. Marks to be a wonderful spiritual home, integrating excellent preaching and liturgy, music, community service and outreach, social justice focus, clergy development, and a warm and embracing community.  I would be delighted to support the people and mission of St. Mark’s on the vestry if selected.

Lena Chow Kuhar

I was born in Fujian, China and raised in Hong Kong before coming to the United States for graduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. My grandfather was a country doctor, trained by an English missionary physician who handed the small hospital in the rural village to my grandfather. In Hong Kong, I attended the Diocesan Girls’ School, founded by the Anglican church.

Christianity has been an integral part of my upbringing, but I was not baptized until 2010, years after my husband Bob and I joined the Los Altos United Methodist Church, where our daughter Andrea was a member of the Starfire youth choir. In 2016, we began looking for a church closer to home, in Palo Alto. Through a series of coincidences, we ended up at Saint Mark’s one Sunday morning. We never looked back.

My career centers around healthcare marketing. When my advertising agency specializing in biotechnology and healthcare was acquired in 2003, I started a market analytics business in China, focusing on chronic disease patients. There, I had the opportunity to help the Chinese Medical Doctors Association build a program on ethics and professionalism, with the support of the leadership of the American Board of Internal Medicine and other experts from the U.S. I served on the board of AchieveKids, Palo Alto, and was on the external advisory board of the Institute on Aging at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve as a member of the Vestry. I look forward to learning and contributing to St. Mark’s as a grandmother, a businesswoman and a first-generation immigrant.