The Upper Arlington school board has appointed former longtime board member Marjory Pizzuti to fill a vacancy on the five-member panel.

After a roughly 50-minute closed-door executive session, the board voted 3-0 Friday, Aug. 2, to appoint Pizzuti to serve out the remainder of 12-year member Robin Comfort’s term on the board. Board Vice President Nancy Drees was absent from the meeting.

Comfort died July 8 from what district officials said was a "short battle with a recurrence of breast cancer." Her death came two days before her 64th birthday.

Pizzuti has experience on the Upper Arlington school board, having served from 2001 to 2013. She currently is president and chief executive officer of Goodwill Columbus, a position she’s held since January 2005.

Pizzuti will serve the remainder of Comfort’s third term on the board, which is set to expire Dec. 31. 

She said she doesn't intend to run for the seat this fall.

“I am deeply humbled and privileged to be selected to serve the school district and the Upper Arlington community for this interim period to honor and respect my beloved friend and colleague, Robin Comfort,” Pizzuti said. “I will not seek election to the UA Board of Education.

“I’ve served the school district for 12 years and am gratified by my contributions during that tenure. I welcome the opportunity to have others in the community seek and serve on the UA Board of Education moving forward.”

The filing deadline with the Franklin County Board of Elections is 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7.

In approving the appointment, board President Stacey Royer fought back tears as board member Carol Mohr said, “I think Margie’s 12 years of experience on this board, as well as her service as the CEO of Goodwill, make her an excellent choice.”

Fifteen candidates had applied for the post by the district’s July 26 deadline. The others were Laura Barber-Purvis, Matthew Burkhart, Terry Fleming, Nicolas Fortkamp, Cristina Gulacy-Worrel, Ruben Guzman, Diane Haddad, Jeremy Kelley, Don Leach, Gloria Lombardi, Jenny McKenna, Lori Trent, Peter Walsh and Erik Yassenoff.

After the vote, Royer cried as she read a statement about the appointment. She also took issue with how quickly a replacement had to be named.

“On behalf of the board, I’d like to thank everyone who was interested in joining us for the next four months,” she said. “It has been an extremely difficult time for all of us. Clearly, none of us are emotionally ready to move on without Robin, but frankly, state law is forcing us to move much more quickly than we would like.

“Robin was such a positive force on the board for nearly 12 years. The thought of filling her seat within 30 days just doesn’t seem right, but it’s been wonderful to see all the great people who are willing to take on this role and support education here in Upper Arlington.”