Sunday, January 29, 2023
The RP Group

 Keynote and Plenary Speakers for the Strengthening Student Success Conference

Keynote and Plenary speakers for our Strengthening Student Success Conferences are leaders and visionaries in their fields who present attendees with big picture ideas and unique perspectives to help them deepen their understanding of the complexity of students' lives, the elements of learning, and institutional environments. Most importantly, our speakers inspire our community to take action and help shape their own practice and the success of students.

 SSSC Past Years Keynote & Plenary Speakers

See the full list of keynote speakers from previous SSSCs below

SSSC Keynote & Plenary Speakers

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Paul Hernandez and Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson will be serving as the keynote speakers for Strengthening Student Success Conference 2022.

Dr. Paul Hernandez (he/him)
Senior Advisor to the President & CEO | Achieving the Dream

Dr. Paul Hernandez (he/him)

Dr. Paul Hernandez is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in college access and success, community outreach, and pedagogy for educators working with underserved/underprepared students and students at risk of dropping out of school. As a former faculty member, non-profit administrator and educational consultant, Dr. Hernandez works with higher education institutions, K-12 schools, and non-profit organizations helping them further develop and evolve their work with students and communities.

Prior to earning his degrees, Dr. Hernandez was engulfed in gang culture and deep poverty, surviving on the streets of Los Angeles. He openly shares with others his unique personal story of being a youth at risk and how his path has influenced his work. Dr. Hernandez has learned ways to empower young people traveling a similar path, and through his inspirational messages hopes to share his lessons and passion with those working to address the multitude of challenges faced by diverse populations of youth at risk.

Dr. Hernandez earned his doctorate in Sociology specializing in the sociology of education, social inequality, and diversity. He has been nationally recognized for his work and was awarded the National Education Association Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award, the Michigan Education Association Elizabeth Siddall Human Rights Award, the Equity in Education award by the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and an Honors Professor of the Year Award for teaching. Dr. Hernandez is author of the best-selling book The Pedagogy of Real Talk: Engaging, Teaching, and Connecting With Students At-Promise.

Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson (she/her)
President | Evergreen Valley College

Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson (she/her)

For nearly two decades, Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson has actively served in roles engaged in meeting the educational needs of community college students. She continuously seeks new ways to imagine and create learning environments and services supporting student success and has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion.

Dr. Gilkerson is currently the president of Evergreen Valley College in San José, CA. Prior to her current role, she served as President of Laney College, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Contra Costa College, and the first Diversity, Inclusion, and Innovation Officer for the Contra Costa Community College District. In addition to her community college work, Dr. Gilkerson served as the Academy and Education Policy Director at The Greenlining Institute and UC Berkeley in the Office of Student Life and Early Academic Outreach Program.

Dr. Gilkerson is a leader in several statewide efforts to find solutions that address students’ basic needs, support undocumented and mixed-status students, and improve the quality of distance education. She has developed policy recommendations and practical strategies for practitioners through her leadership on the Affordability, Food & Housing Access Taskforce, the Dreamers Advisory Group, and the Distance Education & Educational Technology Advisory Committee.

As an equity avenger and founding member of The Coalition, Dr. Gilkerson is passionate about building learner-centered institutions that reflect students’ lived experiences, provide hope, and practice love. Core to this vision, she recognizes the need to nurture leadership and community-building at all institutional levels. Through her work, she creates spaces where individuals can be supported and affirmed as they engage in the vulnerable act of learning and leading with authenticity, courage, and humility.

The first in her family to graduate from college, Dr. Gilkerson holds a bachelor’s in history, a master’s in counseling, and a doctorate in organizational leadership.

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Deborah L. Harrington will moderate our student panel discussion.

Dr. Deborah L. Harrington (she/her)
Dean of Student Success | Los Angeles Community College District
Executive Director | California Community Colleges’ Success Network (3CSN)

Dr. Deborah L. Harrington (she/her)

Deborah L. Harrington is the Dean of Student Success for the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) and the Executive Director for the California Community Colleges’ Success Network (3CSN). Dr. Harrington’s office oversees the implementation of the LA College Promise across LACCD’s nine colleges and provides resources, leadership, and support for other significant district-wide student completion efforts such as Guided Pathways. 3CSN’s communities of practice are nationally recognized as research-driven initiatives resulting in significant increases in student achievement.

With extensive experience teaching and administering during the past three and a half decades, Dr. Harrington has additionally served as Writing Center Director, Dean for Institutional Effectiveness, and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Harrington has led national and state efforts to improve student access, success, and equity and to provide effective professional learning resources to faculty through her service as a project coordinator and educational consultant for many nationally recognized programs including California’s Puente Project, Carnegie/Annenberg/Ford Foundations’ Teachers for a New Era Project, and USC and Irvine Foundation’s Diversity/Equity Scorecard Project. Additionally, she has served as Principal Investigator on several national, state, and foundation grants, including ones funded through the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and California Futures Foundation. She continues to teach English online at Los Angeles Valley College.

Dr. Harrington is a first generation college-goer and holds a doctorate in education from the University of California, Los Angeles; a master’s degree in English from California State University, Northridge; a BA in English from UCLA; and an AA in humanities from College of the Canyons.

Tristin Beery (he/him)
San Diego State University

Tristin Beery (he/him)

Tristin Beery graduated from Cuyamaca College in 2022 with his Associate in Arts in political pcience and transferred to San Diego State University in fall 2022. During his time at Cuyamaca, before and throughout the pandemic, Tristin served as the President of the Associated Student Government and amplified the student voice in order to create a more equitable campus. Tristin also served as a student representative on many integral college councils and committees, regularly seeking input from students and bringing feedback forward to help shape the future of the college. Tristin most recently served as a student leader in the development of the college's 2022-2028 Comprehensive Strategic and Facilities Plan, which centers the student experience. Tristin plans to earn his master’s in political science with a focus on comparative politics and public policy. Among his largest concerns and areas of interests are drug policy reformation, abolishing private prisons, and investing in a high-speed rail system across the United States.

Iziaih Choquette (they/them)
Los Angeles City College

Iziaih Choquette (they/them)

Iziaih Choquette is an aspiring multilingual engineer with a passion for humanitarianism, social justice, and environmental activism. They currently attend Los Angeles City College and are studying engineering and Korean language and culture, with a goal to attend school in South Korea for their masters. With their passions in mind, Iziaih aspires to one day develop tech in the field of natural disaster prevention and damage minimization, and provide services to people of color and other marginalized communities at little or no cost to help them in their disaster resiliency. They currently hold three titles, Vice Chairman of the Homeless Youth Forum of Los Angeles Board, Co-Founder of SPA-4 Youth and Young Adult Steering Council, and Youth Advisory Council Member for the Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center. They have worked directly with homeless and houseless youth, formerly incarcerated individuals, and students to assist them in resource referrals, support networking, and building their futures with success. As someone with lived experience, they work to ensure that the systems to support those struggling match their intent with their impact. Iziaih is also a member of the UMOJA program at LACC, which strives to support and connect African American and Black students to their community and to the cultures and traditions of the African Diaspora, while providing much-needed academic assistance and educational plan guidance. Iziaih’s biggest motivation is to one day see a world where all humans are treated the same and allowed to all strive for their greatest potential, fully supported by their diverse communities.

Fábio da Costa Silva (he/him)
Riverside City College

Fábio da Costa Silva (he/him)

Fábio Da Costa Silva is an international student from Brazil, currently attending Riverside City College, where he is majoring in elementary education. He has already received a degree in environmental engineering and a master’s in environmental sciences, both from the Federal University of Tocantins, Brazil, but his passion for teaching science and math to bilingual children has brought him to the United States to obtain a formal teaching degree and expand his abilities in a second language.

Before coming to the United States, Fábio got invited by Guide on the Side, an American-owned tutoring company, to teach math and science to low-income children through video conferences during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also long advocated for a solid elementary and high school education within his community by helping local Brazilian children with their exam preparation and homework. Not only that, but he also believes that enhancing the acquisition of math, science, and language skills can improve the future of many children and teenagers in emergent countries like Brazil.

Fábio has recently been added to the Dean’s Honors List for his academic performance during the spring 2022 semester, and he is currently a proud member of the RCC UMOJA community.

Brandi Holcomb (she/her)
California State University, Fresno

Brandi Holcomb (she/her)

Brandi Holcomb is a junior at California State University, Fresno. She is majoring in psychology with a goal of earning her PhD in psychological research. She wants to conduct neuropsychological research with an emphasis on achievement motivation. She always wants to know the “why” behind peoples’ behaviors. Brandi recently graduated from Fresno City College with a 4.0 GPA, Highest Honors, and Phi Theta Kappa. She is currently working as an ETC (Extending the Class) Mentor at Fresno City College.

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and Dr. Keith Curry will be serving as the keynote speakers for the Strengthening Student Success Conference 2021.

Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings

Dr. Gloria Ladson-BillingsGloria Ladson-Billings is the former Kellner Family Distinguished Professor of Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and faculty affiliate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was the 2005-2006 president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Ladson-Billings’ research examines the pedagogical practices of teachers who are successful with African American students. She also investigates Critical Race Theory applications to education. She is the author of the critically acclaimed books The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children and Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms, as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters. Ladson-Billings is the former editor of the American Educational Research Journal and a member of several editorial boards. Her work has won numerous scholarly awards including the H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship, the NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the Palmer O. Johnson outstanding research award. During the 2003-2004 academic year, Ladson-Billings was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In fall of 2004, she received the George and Louise Spindler Award from the Council on Anthropology and Education for significant and ongoing contributions to the field of educational anthropology.

Ladson-Billings holds honorary degrees from Umeå University (Umeå Sweden), University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the University of Alicante (Alicante, Spain), the Erickson Institute (Chicago), and Morgan State University (Baltimore). She is a 2018 recipient of the AERA Distinguished Research Award, and she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2018. Ladson-Billings earned a B.S. in Education from Morgan State University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University.

Dr. Keith Curry
President | Compton College
CEO | Compton Community College District

Dr. Keith CurryDr. Keith Curry is the President of Compton College and CEO of the Compton Community College District (CCCD). Compton College is the 114th California Community College, achieving initial accreditation status on June 7, 2017. Dr. Curry is responsible for overseeing all departments and functions of Compton College and the CCCD and serves as secretary for the CCCD Board of Trustees. He brings an abundance of energy and innovative ideas to Compton College, along with a wealth of experience as a postsecondary education administrator.

Dr. Curry is an active member of the Foundation for Compton Community College District; the Association of California Community College Administrators; the California Community College Athletic Association; the Statewide Association of Community Colleges (SWACC); the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice Advisory Board; and the President’s Roundtable. He has participated on Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Visiting Teams, most recently for the San Quentin University Prison Project.

In 2018, Dr. Curry received the Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award. The Association of California Community College Administrators bestows the award to administrators who demonstrate integrity, principle, compassion, strength in leadership, and who have made significant contributions to the college, district, and community.

At the 2019 Community College League of California Annual Conference, Dr. Curry was honored as one of three 2019 Champions of Equity by the Campaign for College Opportunity and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational fund. The award honors those who prioritize student-centered policies that produce equitable outcomes and expand opportunities for Californians.

In June 2020, Dr. Curry was invited by Governor Newsom’s Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education Lande Ajose to serve on the California Higher Education Recovery with Equity Task Force.

Dr. Curry earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Francisco Rodriguez will moderate our student panel discussion. Stay tuned for our student speaker line-up!

Dr. Francisco Rodriguez
Chancellor | Los Angeles Community College District

Dr. Francisco RodriguezFrancisco C. Rodriguez, Ph.D. is the Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), the largest community college district in the nation with nine accredited colleges and over 230,000 student enrollments.

Appointed in 2014, Dr. Rodriguez has raised the District’s profile and built its national reputation as an outstanding urban community college district to study and work. During his tenure, Chancellor Rodriguez has led the efforts for a taxpayer-approved $3.3 billion local facilities bond in 2016 and the hiring of close to 600 full-time, tenure-track faculty. He was a principal architect for the statewide California Promise Program, which was the result of LACCD-sponsored legislation that provides all first-time, full-time California students with two years of tuition-free education at any of the state’s community colleges.

A noted scholar, practitioner and educator-activist, Dr. Rodriguez has 30-plus years of experience as an educator, faculty member, and administrator within California public higher education. He has dedicated his career to high-quality public education and championing equity and inclusion, diversity, and outreach to under-resourced communities. From 2003 to 2014, Dr. Rodriguez served as the Cosumnes River College President in Sacramento, California, and as the Superintendent/President of the MiraCosta Community College District in San Diego. His leadership at both institutions was marked by increased student enrollments, racial and gender diversification of faculty, students and administration, increased support for student success and institutional equity, increased grants and endowments, and robust university, business and community engagement.

During his distinguished career, Dr. Rodriguez has received numerous awards and recognitions for his servant leadership and dedicated service. In 2021, he was named as one of the “LA500” most influential people in Southern California by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Dr. Rodriguez graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a bachelor’s degree in Chicano Studies and his master’s degree in Community Development. He received his Ph.D. in Education from Oregon State University.

Trillia Hargrove
City College of San Francisco

Trillia Hargrove, City College of San FranciscoTrillia Hargrove is a student at City College of San Francisco, majoring in psychology, and a senior fellow with Students Making A Change (SMAC), advocating for equity in higher education. SMAC is dedicated to informing students about their rights, promoting equitable systemic change, and uplifting our communities. Ms. Hargrove has assisted this goal as part of a team of amazing student advocates, and as a speaker and presenter with SMAC.

Coraima Martinez
East Los Angeles College

Coraima Martinez East Los Angeles College

Coraima Martinez is a first generation college student, currently attending East Los Angeles College where she is majoring in political science. Ms. Martinez has served in numerous leadership roles, such as: SSCCC Region 7 Vice Chair, VP of ESPAA (Elac Students for Political Awareness and Advocacy), and Lead AFT1521 student intern.

Ms. Martinez has lobbied in support of legislation working to create diversity, equity, and inclusion within higher education; lead an initiative for student direct aid to be distributed to all LACCD students who qualified; and has co-lead and organized several town halls in order for the LACCD students to address equity concerns and have concerns be answered.

Ms. Martinez is currently serving as the newly elected LACCD Student Trustee and continues to serve as a Lead AFT1521 student intern, furthering her mission to support diversity and equity within higher education; understanding that student-centered conversations must center student voices. She is applying to transfer this fall and has plans to attend law school once she has completed her BA.

Alexander Needleman
San Diego Mesa College

Alexander Needleman, San Diego Mesa College

Alexander Needleman is a first-generation college student who will be graduating from San Diego Mesa College with an Associate of Science Degree in Computer and Information Sciences. Mr. Needleman was added to the Dean’s Honors List for his academic performance in the 2020-21 academic year and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society’s Beta Epsilon chapter.

As part of a growing community of student leadership, Mr. Needleman worked together with other San Diego Mesa College students in what became known as the Mesa Pathways Fellows. In his role as a Project Assistant there, he amplified the student voice at Mesa College and brought a fresh perspective to several meetings with faculty and staff; input which proved to be invaluable to the Mesa Guided Pathways program in ensuring student equity and success was the college’s number one priority.

Mr. Needleman is currently working as a Research Assistant for the department of Institutional Effectiveness at San Diego Mesa College, helping analysts and planners provide the institution with tangible, humanized data in order to properly implement policies and strategies that will benefit students.

Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart
President | Amarillo College

Dr. Russell Lowrey-Hart

Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart currently serves as President of Amarillo College and was recently named a Top Ten Finalist for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. His leadership is focused on improving student success through systemic and cultural change centered on one word — love, and by empowering the student voice in redesigning higher education.

During Dr. Lowery-Hart’s career, he developed the systemic Culture of Caring, targeting removal of poverty barriers, scaling accelerated learning options, and ensuring employees intentionally love students to success. Amarillo College’s work on poverty was featured in The Atlantic (June 2018).

Dr. Lowery-Hart was selected into the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a rigorous executive leadership program led by the Aspen Institute and the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative. He served as the chair for the Amarillo “No Limits/No Excuses” Partners for Postsecondary Success Collective Impact, a 21-organization collaborative focused on education certificate and degree completion leading to living wage employment. Dr. Lowery-Hart also served as the chair for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee charged with evaluating and redesigning the state of Texas general education requirements.

Dr. Lowery-Hart previously served as Vice-President of Academic Affairs for Amarillo College and was named the National Council of Instructional Administrators Academic Leader of the Year for 2014. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio University, M.A. from Texas Tech University, and B.S. from West Texas State University.

While his calling is education reform, his passion is family. His wife, Tara, sons, Christopher and Campbell, daughter, Cadence, and dog, Sadie, fill his life with beauty and joy.

View the written Q&A following Dr. Lowrey-Hart's presentation delivered October 2 at SSSC20

Dr. Angélica Garcia
President | Berkeley City College

Dr. Angélica Garcia

Dr. Angélica Garcia is an educational leader who is passionate about issues of access, equity, and student success in higher education. Over the past 16 years her professional experiences include direct student support, teaching, and administrative roles in non-profit organizations, secondary education, and higher education. Currently, Dr. Garcia proudly serves as the President of Berkeley City College and before that, she served as Vice President of Student Services at Skyline College, where she successfully led the implementation of Guided Pathways, the Promise Scholars Program, the Student Equity & Support Programs Division, and the Equity Institute.

As an experienced educator, Dr. Garcia combines her education and training as a social worker with her research and work in higher education to design and implement data informed programs and services that support quality instruction and comprehensive, holistic student services. She firmly believes that community colleges serve as pathways to liberation for historically minoritized communities. Dr. Garcia’s experience as a first-generation college student of color informs her lens to see students’ cultural capital and skills as strengths they bring to the college campus. She is committed to leading with integrity and promotes building collaborative relationships across campus cultures to build educational institutions that work for equity and racial justice.

Dr. Garcia’s leadership and equity advocacy includes her current appointments to the Student Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee, the HERS (Higher Education Resource Services) Board of Directors, and the Vice President and Co-Founder of COLEGAS (California Community College Organización de Latinx Empowerment, Guidance and Advocacy for Success).

Dr. Garcia’s teaching at four-year institutions has included courses in undergraduate, master, and doctoral programs. She earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at San Francisco State University, a Master’s in Social Work at San Diego State University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal and Civic Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California.

View the written Q&A following Dr. Garcia's presentation delivered October 30 at SSSC20

Dr. Julianna Barnes
President | Cuyamaca College

Dr. Juliana BarnesConversation focus: Rethinking leadership in the current context with the pandemic and racial injustice. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: Dr. Julianna Barnes is the president of Cuyamaca College, a position she has held since 2015. With an educational career spanning nearly three decades, Dr. Barnes is known for her inclusive leadership and deep commitment to student success and equity. In her tenure as president, she led the creation of a new strategic plan which emphasizes equity-minded student success and promotes a learning environment that validates students' social and cultural realities. Developmental education reform has been central to these strategic efforts and has resulted in significant increases in access to and completion of college-level math and English.

Under Dr. Barnes' leadership, Cuyamaca College was recently recognized nationally by Excelencia in Education and was awarded the John W. Rice Diversity & Equity Award in the California Community Colleges.

Dr. Barnes received her Doctor of Education in educational leadership with a community college specialization and a Master of Arts in education/multicultural counseling, both from San Diego State University, plus a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Kristi Blackburn
Interim Vice President of Pathways Innovation & Institutional Effectiveness| Los Angeles Community College District

Dr. Kristi BlackburnConversation focus: Starting conversations about race, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and getting beyond the data. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: Dr. Kristi Blackburn has worked in the California Community College system for 15 years as a Dean of Academic Affairs, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Planning, and as an Interim Vice President of Pathways Innovation and Institutional Effectiveness. Prior to living in California, she held a full-time tenure-track teaching position at Dona Ana Community College. Dr. Blackburn also worked in student services at New Mexico State University as the NCAA Life Skills Program Coordinator/Athletics Advisor and as the Assistant Advising Coordinator for the College of Health and Social Services. She has worked at designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) for over 20 years.

Dr. Blackburn earned an M.A. in Communication Studies (1993), and Ph.D. in Psychology (2008). Her dissertation topic was: The Impact of Freshman Year Experience Courses on Latino/Latina Students Attending Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Linda Collins
Founder and Executive Director | Career Ladders Project

Linda CollinsConversation focus: Learning from and leveraging this moment of racial reckoning and organizational fluidity to truly restructure and redesign our colleges. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: Linda Collins is Founder and Executive Director of the Career Ladders Project (CLP), a non-profit that promotes equity-minded community college redesign. CLP’s policy work, research, and collaboration with colleges focus on systems change so more students—particularly students of color and low-income students—attain certificates, degrees, transfer, and career advancement.

Linda has provided leadership on many reform initiatives. Currently, Linda works with the California Community College (CCC) system and colleges across California to support Guided Pathways efforts. She serves on the Board of the Linked Learning Alliance and as President of the Board for the non-partisan California EDGE Coalition. Linda also founded LearningWorks, linking knowledge, policy, and practice to improve student achievement.

Linda frequently advises on state and national policy efforts. She served as an expert advisor to CDE’s Adult Education Strategic Planning Initiative; the U.S. Department of Education’s Policy-to-Performance Initiative to transition adult learners to college and career; and the national Alliance for Quality Career Pathways effort.

Previously, Linda served as President of the Academic Senate for CCCs, and taught sociology and interdisciplinary studies at Los Medanos College.

Dr. Darla Cooper
Executive Director | The RP Group

Dr. Darla CooperConversation focus: Discussion with two veteran faculty members about how they have adapted their teaching in the time of COVID and gained new insights into and empathy for what it must be like for students to navigate their community college experience. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: Dr. Darla M. Cooper is an educational leader and expert in research and evaluation dedicated to using inquiry, data, and evidence to improve the lives of all community college students. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the Research and Planning Group for the California Community Colleges (RP Group).

Dr. Cooper has worked in the California Community Colleges system for over 20 years, having previously held institutional research director positions at Santa Barbara City College, Oxnard College, and Ohlone College. She led Student Support (Re)defined, a landmark research project that examined what supports student success, and is currently co-directing Through the Gate, a research study that examines what happens with students who appear ready to transfer, but do not.

Dr. Cooper has worked on various projects designed to promote student success including the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Pathways Project and Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. She also has direct experience assisting students in achieving their educational goals in her previous work at the University of Southern California as a director of research and information, student services counselor, and ombudsperson.

Dr. Cooper holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and an MSEd and EdD from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Deborah Harrington
Executive Director | California Community Colleges’ Success Network (3CNS)
Dean of Student Success | Los Angeles Community College District

Dr. Deborah HarringtonConversation focus: Steps community college professionals can and should take to design educational experiences that proactively meet students where they are in light of the Covid-era economic impact, social displacement, and large-scale call to action to enact explicitly anti-racist reforms. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: Dr. Deborah L. Harrington is the Dean of Student Success for the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) and the Executive Director for the California Community Colleges’ Success Network (3CSN). Dr. Harrington’s district office oversees the implementation of the LA College Promise across the LA District’s nine colleges and provides resources, leadership, and support for other significant district-wide student completion efforts such as Guided Pathways.

3CSN’s communities of practice are nationally recognized as research-driven initiatives resulting in significant increases in student achievement. With extensive experience teaching and administering during the past three and a half decades, Dr. Harrington has additionally served as Writing Center Director, Dean for Institutional Effectiveness, and Vice President of Academic Affairs. She serves on several statewide committees and has helped lead national and state efforts to improve student access, success, and equity.

Dr. Harrington holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles; a Master’s Degree in English from California State University, Northridge; a B.A. in English from UCLA; and an A.A. in Humanities from College of the Canyons.

Dr. John Hetts
Visiting Executive, Research and Data | California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Dr. John HettsConversation focus: Reflections on lessons learned about systemic and structural paternalism and racism in education and more. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: John J. Hetts, Ph.D., is the Visiting Executive, Research, and Data for the California Community Colleges. He has a history of working on challenging local and system-wide research and data representation with nearly thirty years of experience in both instruction and research in higher education. Dr. Hetts leads the statewide Student Metrics Workgroup and is also a member of the Multiple Measures Assessment Project (MMAP) research team and the Cradle to Career Research Subcommittee, and is formerly a member of the AB705 Implementation Workgroup, the California Guided Pathways Advisory Committee, and the statewide Multiple Measures Subgroup of the Common Assessment Initiative. He is also a Complete College America Fellow and a California Educational Policy Fellow.

Previously, Dr. Hetts was the Senior Director of Data Science for Educational Results Partnership, which runs the statewide voluntary intersegmental educational system of data, CALPASS Plus. Prior to that, he was the Director of Institutional Research at Long Beach City College. He and his team members have won multiple awards for their work on predictive modeling and on MMAP. Dr. Hetts received his doctorate from UCLA in Social Psychology with a specialization in Measurement and Psychometrics and Political Psychology and holds a B.A. with Distinction and Honors from Stanford University.

Dr. Cynthia Olivo
Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services | Pasadena City College

Dr. Cynthia OlivoConversation focus: How to build a culture in a campus community to focus on racial equity and change college practices to be more in line with what students need from us. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: Dr. Cynthia Olivo serves as the Vice President of Student Services at Pasadena City College (PCC). Initiatives include collaborating to create a large scale First Year Experience Pathways Program, PCC Complete Graduation Initiative, Student Equity leadership to transform teaching, hiring, and services to students. Dr. Olivo led the creation of a Veterans Resource Center and the LancerPantry, the QUEST Center for Queer + Undocumented Empowerment & Support to Thrive, and CORE (Communities Overcoming Recidivism through Education). She is currently leading these projects: Integrated Welcome Center, Foster Youth Center, and providing strategic vision in creating the Center for Student Equity & Professional Development.

Dr. Olivo served as the President of the Chief Student Services Officer Association in 2019-2020 and is the President of a new statewide association COLEGAS—California Community College Organizacion de Latinx Guidance, Empowerment & Advocacy for Success. She is a founding member of The Coalition, an organization including the African American Male Education Network & Development, the Association of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education, and COLEGAS to address racial equity. In addition, Dr. Olivo is a member of the National Policy & Leadership Trust for Jobs for the Future and serves on the Executive Board for the National Community College Hispanic Council.

Dr. Olivo earned her BA in Psychology and a Master of Science in Counseling from California State University San Bernardino and earned her Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Urban Leadership from Claremont Graduate University in 2008. Dr. Olivo is the granddaughter of migrant farmworkers, daughter of an amazing single mom, first in her family to go to college, and third generation Chicana.

Dr. Rowena Tomaneng
President | San Jose City College

Dr. Rowena TomanengConversation focus: The impact that a humanizing education may have on the academic and social success of students of color. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: Dr. Rowena M. Tomaneng's leadership, teaching, service, and research are guided by social justice and equity frameworks. She is currently the President of San Jose City College in the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District.

From 2016-2020, Dr. Tomaneng served as the President of Berkeley City College where she launched The Berkeley Promise--a partnership between the City of Berkeley, Berkeley Unified School District, Berkeley City College, and Berkeley Community Fund to close the racial opportunity gap for low-income African American, Asian American, and Latino students. She also expanded the Undocumented Community Resource Center, a Define American chapter. Prior to her presidencies, Dr. Tomaneng served in multiple roles at De Anza College in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.

Dr. Tomaneng is a Board member of the Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges (CEOCCC), Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE), the National Asian Pacific Islander Council (NAPIC-AACC), and California Campus Compact. She also serves as a co-Chair for Community Colleges for Democracy (CC4D) and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges' Commission on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.

Dr. Tomaneng has been selected for multiple Fellowships and has written and contributed to a variety of publications including the Journal of Multicultural Perspectives.

Dr. Tomaneng received her EdD in International/Multicultural Education with a concentration in Human Rights Education from University of San Francisco, an MA in English from University of California, Santa Barbara, and a BA in English from University of California, Irvine.

Dr. Matt Wetstein
President | Cabrillo College

Dr. Matt WetsteinConversation focus: How to connect with students in light of the pandemic and reflecting on the scope of reforms that we are seeking to implement in new modalities and the ways that we can learn from our on-going failures and successes. You can find more details on the registration form.

Bio: Dr. Matt Wetstein has been Superintendent/President of Cabrillo College since 2018. Prior to working at Cabrillo, he served for 6 years as the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Instruction and Planning at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA. Dr. Wetstein started his career in the California Community Colleges as a Political Science Instructor at San Joaquin Delta College in 1996. He is a statewide leader in the Research and Planning Community for California Community Colleges, having spent six years on the RP Group Board of Directors and two years as President. Dr. Wetstein and his wife Cindy Ostberg have published a number of articles and books examining patterns of judicial behavior in the Supreme Court of Canada. He holds a BA from the University of St. Francis in Illinois, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University.

Robyn Bolden
Student | University of California, San Diego

Robyn Bolden, University of California, San DiegoRobyn Bolden is a student at UC San Diego. She recently graduated from San Diego Mesa College with degrees in Communications and Black Studies. At Mesa College she was Vice President of Associated Student Government, a position that allowed her to be a voice for other students and lead her campus in pursuing equality and inclusivity. Robyn was also the President of the Diversity Club, President of Umoja, Vice President of Active Minds, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and a member of the Black Student Union. Motivated by a desire to give back to the campus community and help students with basic needs insecurities that she has also experienced, she continues to work at The Stand, a food pantry and professional clothing closet at Mesa College. Robyn is the proud mother of three daughters and one son, and credits her oldest daughter graduating from college as her inspiration to enroll at Mesa College at the age of 37.

Ruanne Catapang
Student | Los Angeles Pierce College

Ruanne Catapang, Los Angeles Pierce CollegeRuanne Catapang is a full-time student at Los Angeles Pierce College where she is part of the LA College Promise Program, the Honors Transfer Program, and recently became a Senator for the Associated Students Organization. She will be transferring to a university next fall and plans to pursue graduate school to become an occupational therapist. As the first in her family to attend a community college and choose an untraditional career path, Ruanne is committed to initiating efforts that promote student success, such as social support networks, opportunities for students to present their talents and abilities, and building better programs and environments for students with disabilities. She is also very active in her community, tutoring elementary school students and volunteering with Coach Art and Dreams for Kids DC, non-profit organizations that currently host virtual activities (such as art, cooking, adaptive yoga, and STEM activities) for children with chronic illnesses or physical or developmental disabilities. Additionally, Ruanne conducts research for an occupational therapist to help find activities that are developmentally appropriate to include in teletherapy sessions. She is fueled by her desire to create a more compassionate, holistic, and inclusive community.

Stephen Kodur
Student | Reedley College

Stephen Kodur, Reedley CollegeStephen Kodur is a student at Reedley College studying Kinesiology, Business Administration, Communication Studies, and Political Science. He is also the President of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges. Stephen is an avid sports fan and currently works as a Physical Education teacher for a local school district. He has always had a passion for working with students and he hopes to continue his education at either Fresno State or one of the great UCs.

Sofia Zaragoza
Student | Los Angeles Pierce College

Sofia Zaragoza, Los Angeles Pierce CollegeSofia C. Zaragoza is a student at Los Angeles Pierce College working towards transferring to UC Berkeley to attain a BA in English. She also hopes to attain a Masters in English, as well as a PhD in Education, striving towards her ultimate goal of teaching college-level English. Sofia holds the position of Club Council President within the Associated Student Organization on her campus. She also volunteers with her local Special Olympics chapter and seasonally coaches their swim team. Sofia’s passion for community and dedication towards helping others is her main motivation in creating an environment within her community college and impact circle that reflects diversity, inclusion, and compassion! Sofia enjoys poke bowls, fashion, and water sports, as well as visiting tourist attractions around Los Angeles!

Dr. Keith Curry
President | Compton College

Dr. Keith CurryDr. Keith Curry is the President of the Compton College and CEO of the Compton Community College District (CCCD). Compton College is the 114th California Community College, achieving initial accreditation status on June 7, 2017. He brings an abundance of energy and innovative ideas to Compton College, along with a wealth of experience as a postsecondary education administrator.

Dr. Curry is an active member of the Foundation for Compton Community College District, the Association of California Community College Administrators, the California Community College Athletic Association, the Statewide Association of Community Colleges, the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice Advisory Board, and the President’s Roundtable. He has participated on Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Visiting Teams, most recently for the San Quentin University Prison Project.

In 2018, Dr. Curry received the Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award from the Association of California Community College Administrators, which honors integrity, principle, compassion, strength in leadership, and significant contributions to the college district and community. At the 2019 Community College League of California Annual Conference, Dr. Curry was honored as one of three 2019 Champions of Equity by the Campaign for College Opportunity and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational fund. The award honors those who prioritize student-centered policies that produce equitable outcomes and expand opportunities for Californians.

In June 2020, Dr. Curry was invited by Governor Newsom’s Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education Lande Ajose to serve on the California Higher Education Recovery with Equity Task Force.

Dr. Curry earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Curry is an adjunct faculty member for the College of Education at California State University, Fullerton.

Dr. Carole Goldsmith
President | Fresno City College

Dr. Carole GoldsmithDr. Carole Goldsmith has spent over 20 years in a variety of educational leadership roles, most recently as President of Fresno City College since 2016, and has been recognized on state and national levels as an expert on workforce development, contextualized learning, and career technical education.

Prior to taking the helm at Fresno City College, Dr. Goldsmith served as President of West Hills College Coalinga for nearly four years and held multiple positions at West Hills, including Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development and Director of Strategic Planning.

Dr. Goldsmith has served on a number of other boards including United Way, California Community College Administrators of Occupational Education and San Joaquin Clean Energy Organization and the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley. She is currently serving on the Board of Governors Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy.

Dr. Goldsmith’s leadership has been acknowledged by many different organizations. In 2018, she was recipient of a Top 10 Professional Women and Leading Business Award by the Marjaree Mason Center. She was also recently named Woman of the Year by the City of Fresno. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award from National University School of Education in 2017 and the Outstanding Alumna Award by the California State University, Fresno Graduate Studies Division in 2013. Dr. Goldsmith received the Mariann Loniello Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Community and Continuing Education.

Dr. Goldsmith earned her Doctorate of Education from the Joint Doctorate program offered by California State University, Fresno and University of California, Davis. Dr. Goldsmith is the first in her family to graduate from a university. She has two adult children, Chad and Chelsea Dobbs and one god-daughter, Ashlee Sian Hernandez.

Thuy Nguyen, J.D.
President | Foothill College

Thuy NguyenThuy Thi Nguyen has served as President of Foothill College since 2016. She is the first Vietnamese American college president in the country. Previously, President Nguyen served as interim General Counsel for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and General Counsel for the Peralta Community College District. From January to June 2015, Nguyen took leave from Peralta to serve as Interim President & Chief Executive Officer of the Community College League of California.

Upon Nguyen’s high school graduation, the mayor of Oakland declared June 23, 1993 “Thuy Thi Nguyen Day.” The California State Bar recognized her with its coveted Diversity Award, a recognition given to an individual who has worked to diversify the legal profession. The Carnegie Corporation of New York also recognized Nguyen in its annual “Great Immigrants” tribute in the New York Times on July 4, 2017.

Prior to her work in the California Community College system, Nguyen was an adjunct instructor at CSU, East Bay, and co-published “25 Vietnamese Americans in 25 Years,” which is archived in the Library of Congress.

Nguyen earned her B.A. from Yale University and J.D. from UCLA School of Law.

Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab
Professor of Higher Education & Sociology | Temple University
Founder | Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice in Philadelphia

Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab

Dr. Goldrick-Rab, PhD, is Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University, and Founding Director of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice in Philadelphia. She is also the Chief Strategy Officer for Emergency Aid at Equity, a student financial success and emergency aid company, and founded Believe in Students, a nonprofit distributing emergency aid.

Dr. Goldrick-Rab is best known for her innovative research on food and housing insecurity in higher education, having led the four largest national studies on the subject, and for her work on making public higher education free. She is the recipient of the William T. Grant Foundation’s Faculty Scholars Award, the American Educational Research Association’s Early Career Award, and the Carnegie Fellowship. In 2016, POLITICO magazine named her one of the top 50 people shaping American politics and she is ranked sixth in the nation among education scholars according to Education Week. Her latest book, Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream, won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award, and was featured on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls Dr. Goldrick-Rab “a defender of impoverished students and a scholar of their struggles,” an accurate description of her life’s work.

She holds a PhD and MA in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Sociology from George Washington University.

Dr. Edward Bush
President | Cosumnes River College
Founder  | African American Male Network and Development Incorporated (A2MEND)

Dr. Edward BushDr. Edward Bush is an innovative leader with over 20 years of experience in the California Community College system. He currently serves as the President of Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California. Under his leadership, the college has seen improvement of student outcomes while reducing gaps in achievement for students of color and other historically marginalized student populations.

Dr. Bush is active in several community organizations including serving on the board for four non-profit foundations. This includes the African American Male Network and Development Incorporated (A2MEND), which he founded. A2MEND is a non-profit organization that is comprised of African American male administrators who utilize their scholarly and professional expertise to foster institutional change within the community college system. Additionally, he co-authored The Plan: A Guide for Women Raising African American Boys from Conception to College and African American Male Theory. He also published three book chapters and 10 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Bush holds a PhD in Urban Educational Leadership from Claremont Graduate University, a Master’s degree in Public Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

Watch his full #SSSC19 keynote address!

Tina Curiel-Allen
Student  | University of California Davis

Tina Curiel-Allen is a queer Xicana/Boricua living in Modesto and a recent graduate of Modesto Junior College and UC Davis with a major in Xicanx Studies. During her time at UC Davis, she co-founded Beyond the Stats, an organization for formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students. Tina is also the Communications Specialist at MILPA (Motivating Individual Leadership for Public Advancement), an organization of formerly incarcerated and system-impacted constituents committed to supporting next-generation infrastructure and leadership within communities, organizations, institutions, and systems.

Her writings and poetry have been published across multiple online platforms and in Teen Vogue. Tina’s cultura and experiences inform her work and activism.

Watch her full #SSSC19 keynote address!

Dr. Victor Rios

Dr. Victor Rios is an award-winning teacher, author, and speaker, currently serving as a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rios has worked with local school districts to develop programs and curricula aimed at improving the quality of interactions between authority figures and youth. 

Pairing his own research with his personal experience living on the streets, dropping out of school, and being incarcerated as a juvenile, Rios has developed interventions for marginalized students aimed at promoting personal transformation and civic engagement. These programs have been implemented in Los Angeles, California (Watts); juvenile detention facilities; and alternative high schools. 

Rios is the creator of the sociological theories, "The Youth Control Complex,” "Racialized Punitive Social Control," and "Cultural Misframing." He is the author of five books including Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys (2011), for which he is the co-winner of the 2013 Oliver Cromwell Cox Award.

Rios has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Primer Impacto, and National Public Radio. His TED Talk, “Help for Kids the Education System Ignores,” has garnered over 1.2 million views. Rios has also advised the Obama administration on gun violence and policing and is the subject of the documentary film The Pushouts. Rios received his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 2005. 

Dr. Veronica A. Keiffer-Lewis (Neal)
Organizational Equity and Cultural Humility Specialist | Allied Path Consulting

Dr. Veronica Neal

Dr. Veronica Neal is an organizational equity and cultural humility specialist with nearly three decades of experience as a diversity and social justice educator, trainer, coach, and consultant. She holds certifications as a diversity professional, integral coach, and community/workplace conflict mediator.

Neal brings to her teaching and consulting practice the theories of justice-based leadership, cultural humility, and multicultural education from her graduate studies as well as her practical experience coaching, organizing, facilitating, and teaching. Her focus is on developing cultural humility across the lifespan, peace and social justice praxis, equity change management, unconscious bias and oppression transformation, and attitudinal healing.

In addition to an active consulting schedule, Neal currently serves as the faculty advisor to the Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education at De Anza College, where she was the inaugural Equity Director — setting the college’s tone for equity and social justice and building the equity office approach and infrastructure. Neal has a passion for community colleges and has worked with over 30 colleges within California alone, in addition to California Community College (CCC) leadership organizations such as the Chancellor’s Office, 3CSN, Academic Senate for CCC, and CCC Classified Senate.

Neal also coaches educational leaders, health/social workers, students, and community activists to bring out the best in themselves and their teams through equity and cultural humility initiatives. Neal serves as Department Chair of International Peace and Conflict Studies at De Anza College while also teaching at San Francisco State University. Her greatest joy and ongoing inspiration is her family, which include two beautiful children and partner whom she calls her best friend.

Alejandro Lomeli
Student | California State University Long Beach

Alejandro Lomeli is a first-generation college student and a recent graduate of Long Beach City College (LBCC). Lomeli served in many roles during his time at LBCC, including student government representative and the student member on the district's Board of Trustees.

As well as working with his local student government, Mr. Lomeli served two terms as the Vice President of System Affairs (VPSA) for the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC). As VPSA, he oversaw all statewide participatory governance student appointments, provided regular trainings on students’ decision-making rights, and tracked several initiatives affecting the community college system.

Mr. Lomeli is currently serving as a commissioner for the California Student Aid Commission, overseeing financial aid policy and leadership for the state and is completing his undergraduate degree at CSULB in Criminal Justice with hopes of joining the Long Beach Police Department, focusing specifically on community-oriented programs.

Sonia Nazario
Pulitzer Prize Winner | Journalist

Sonia Nazario is an award-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of this country’s most intractable problems -- hunger, drug addiction, immigration -- and have won some of the most prestigious journalism and book awards. Nazario is best known for "Enrique's Journey," her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. Published as a series in the Los Angeles Times, "Enrique's Journey" won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2003. It was turned into a book by Random House and became a national bestseller.

Nazario recent humanitarian efforts to get lawyers for unaccompanied migrant children led to her selection as the 2015 Don and Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award recipient by the Advocates for Human Rights. She was also named a 2015 Champion of Children by First Focus and a 2015 Golden Door award winner by HIAS Pennsylvania. In 2016, the American Immigration Council gave her the American Heritage Award. Also in 2016, the Houston Peace & Justice Center honored her with their National Peacemaker Award.

Nazario, who grew up in Kansas and in Argentina, has written extensively about Latin America and about Latinos in the United States. She has been named among the most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business Magazine and a “trendsetter” by Hispanic Magazine. In 2012 Columbia Journalism Review named Nazario among “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40.” She began her career at the Wall Street Journal, and later joined the Los Angeles Times.

Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley
Chancellor | California Community Colleges

Eloy Ortiz Oakley is best known throughout California and the nation for implementing innovative programs and policies that help students succeed in college. Oakley strongly believes that California’s emerging economies demand a workforce with quality credentials and that the state’s 114 community colleges play a pivotal role in moving California forward. Under Oakley’s leadership, the Long Beach Community College District has received numerous awards and recognitions for its efforts to improve student completion rates and for directly supporting a strong small business and entrepreneurship eco-system throughout the greater Southern California region.

Oakley was appointed as the Superintendent-President of the Long Beach Community College District (LBCCD) in 2007. While there he led one of the most diverse community colleges in the nation and provided statewide and national leadership on the issue of improving the education outcomes for historically underrepresented students. For his efforts, the James Irvine Foundation recognized him with their 2014 Leadership Award. Also in 2014, Gov. Brown appointed Oakley to the University of California Board of Regents. In this role, Oakley is using his experiences to better serve all Californians in higher education. In November of 2017, President Obama recognized him as a White House Champion of Change for his work promoting and supporting the national college promise movement.

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors appointed Eloy Ortiz Oakley as Chancellor for the California Community Colleges beginning December, 2016. Oakley himself is a community college success story. After serving four years in the U.S. Army, he enrolled at Golden West College and then transferred to the University of California, Irvine for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Regina Stanback Stroud, Ed.D
President | Skyline College

Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud, President of Skyline College, has been an educator in the California Community Colleges for more than thirty years. She began as a professor of nursing at (then named) Rancho Santiago College of Santa Ana. Later, Dr Stanback Stroud became the Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Mission College in Santa Clara and the Vice President of Instruction at Skyline College in San Bruno, California. In 2010 she was appointed to be the President of Skyline College by the Board of Trustees of the San Mateo County Community College District. Her experience in policy includes a five-year tenure as a representative, Vice President, President, and Past President of the statewide Academic Senate for California Community Colleges.

Dr. Stanback Stroud is highly regarded at local, regional, state, and national levels for her knowledge, background, and perspective on student equity and diversity, education/industry collaboratives, economic empowerment and anti-poverty strategies, community workforce and economic development, and regional and state system policy implications for successful programs and services. She was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans to make recommendations on strategies and policies that help improve the financial wellbeing of young people. In honor of her work on equity and diversity, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges established the Regina Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award. The award is a statewide award that honors faculty whose work demonstrates a commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice.

Dr. Chris Benner
Professor of Environmental Studies | University of California, Santa Cruz | Executive Director of the Everett Program

Coming Together for the Next California: Demographic Change, the Future of Work, and Our Shared Future

California is like America on fast forward. Demographic changes, rising inequality, and dramatic economic restructuring that are contributing to social tensions across the country happened in California first. As a result, California is well positioned to provide leadership in finding solutions to our pressing social and economic challenges. What is the future of work that California students of today are likely to face? Community colleges play an increasingly important role in our economic future. How can we lead with new models that can re-energize the California Dream by making equity central to policy and practice? We will explore what these broad demographic, social, and economic trends mean for educational and training paradigms, and discuss the roles that community college leaders can play in shaping our collective future.

Chris Benner is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Executive Director of the Everett Program. His research focuses on the relationships between technological change, regional development, and structures of economic opportunity, focusing on regional labor markets and the transformation of work and employment patterns. Dr. Benner’s recent book, co-authored with Manuel Pastor, is Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions, which helps uncover the processes, policies, and institutional arrangements that help explain how certain regions around the country have been able to consistently link prosperity and inclusion. Benner’s work has also included providing research assistance to a range of organizations promoting equity and expanded opportunity, including the Coalition on Regional Equity (Sacramento), Working Partnerships USA (San Jose), the California Labor Federation, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, among others. He received his PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Scott Evenbeck
Founding President | Guttman Community College

Building a New College: Lessons Learned

Higher education has never paid more attention to enhancing student success, retention, and graduation than now. Community colleges are currently the focus of unparalleled attention, and support. In higher education circles and state and national agencies, there exists a collective sense that community colleges must raise their game and have higher expectations for their success in serving the students who will define the country’s future. In 2012, the City University of New York (CUNY) opened Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, drawing upon the best practices of other colleges and research findings on student success. From our experiences at Guttman, we will explore: What happens when students follow a guided pathway? When there is no separate developmental work? When there is sustained attention to learning outcomes using an electronic portfolio? What characteristics define this new community college? What elements are transportable to other colleges? What can California community colleges learn from this experience?

Dr. Scott Evenbeck joined City University of New York in 2011 as the founding president of Guttman Community College. Previously, Dr. Evenbeck served as professor of psychology and founding dean of University College at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indiana (IUPUI). He joined the IUPUI faculty after completing his master’s degree and doctorate in Social Psychology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While at IUPUI, Dr. Evenbeck played a major role in key initiatives to support student achievement, including efforts to keep students in college. Long involved in designing, implementing, and assessing first-year experience programs for students, Evenbeck has given more than 100 presentations at academic conferences, and has written articles and chapters on academic achievement and persistence. Dr. Evenbeck also served as a taskforce advisor for the Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year and as a board member of the American Conference of Academic Deans and other national associations. In 2009, the National Learning Community conference recognized him with the lifetime achievement award.

What Did We Learn in the Last Ten Years? Where Are We Going in the Next Ten? Reflections from Three Community College Practitioners

Linda Collins, Executive Director | Career Ladders Project | LearningWorks

Bob Gabriner, Co-Director | Leading the Middle—RP Group | Director, San Francisco State University Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Deborah Harrington, Executive Director | California Community College Success Network (3CSN) | Dean of Student Success, Los Angeles Community College District

This plenary will be a conversation about the evolution of the community colleges during the last ten years. Three community college “old timers” will share their reflections, discuss, argue, debate, and then ask the audience to join in. Four major questions will animate this conversation:

  • What are the most significant developments for the community colleges in the last ten years?

  • How have these developments affected our students, our faculty and staff, our leaders, and our organizations?

  • Have we made progress? Where’s the evidence?

  • Where are the community colleges going, and how will we get there?

Linda Collins works to foster improved student achievement, educational and career advancement for Californians—through research, policy, and direct support to community colleges and their partners. Currently, Linda oversees the California Community College Linked Learning Initiative; technical assistance for several California Career Pathways Trust regional consortia; and ongoing work to support the Career Advancement Academies, designed to connect low-income youth and adults to college and career. In state and national education policy, Linda worked with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to develop the statewide Ladders of Opportunity initiative and the statewide Career Advancement Academy demonstration project. Linda currently leads California’s delegation to the national Alliance for Quality Career Pathways, and is a founding member of the California EDGE Coalition. Previously, Linda taught social sciences at Los Medanos College for over 15 years and served two terms as President of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. 

Dr. Robert Gabriner has been a faculty member, administrator, and leader in the California community colleges for over 40 years. He has held a variety of leadership positions in the RP Group since 1995, and is currently the co-director of the Leading from the Middle program. Dr. Gabriner is also a professor of educational leadership and director of the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at San Francisco State University. Previously, he served as Vice Chancellor and Dean of Research, Planning, and Grants at City College of San Francisco for 19 years. Dr. Gabriner was also a history instructor in the Peralta Community College District for 22 years, and while a faculty member, served as president of the Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers. He has been a leader in community college reform initiatives since 1985, including AB 1725 (1988), the Community College Accountability Act (2004), and the Student Success Task Force (2011).

Dr. Deborah L. Harrington works to improve student access, success, and equity with extensive experience as a faculty member, administrator, and leader in the California community colleges during the last three decades,. As the Executive Director of the California Community College Success Network (3CSN,) Dr. Harrington oversees the 3CSN research-driven communities of practice, leadership institutes, and regional networks, providing ongoing support to over 18,900 California educators from all 113 colleges. In the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), which serves nearly 160,000 students, she has been an English Professor, Writing Center Director, Dean for Institutional Effectiveness, and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Harrington has helped lead national and state efforts through equity-minded programs, including the Puente Project, Achieving the Dream, and the Diversity/Equity Scorecard Project. She additionally serves on numerous statewide committees and advisory groups including the Advisory Committee on Legislation and the Basic Skills Advisory Committee.

Design For Equity
Michael Tubbs, Fellow & Lecturer, |Institute of Design at Stanford University | City Councilmember, Stockton, CA

Given the challenges of the 21st century and the populations community colleges now serve, what tools can we harness from design thinking to evolve how community colleges effectively support students? How can school leaders connect these tools with empathy to create learning ecosystems and pathways to opportunity for the full range of traditional and non-traditional students? In this keynote address, participants will engage in a rapid design session to reflect on these questions in their own contexts.

Michael Tubbs was elected in 2012 as the youngest councilmember in the history of Stockton, California, earning more than 60% of the citywide vote. While in office, Tubbs has established literacy programs in concert with the Housing Authority and the University of the Pacific; drafted and passed Ban the Box legislation; allowing those previously convicted of a crime to apply for city jobs; piloted an anti-recidivism, back-to-work program; and created community-wide coalitions, such as the San Joaquin County Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, and the Black Community Crusade. 

Tubbs has interned at both Google and the White House. He earned a bachelor’s degree with honors and a master’s degree in Policy, Organization, and Leadership studies from Stanford University. Tubbs is a Truman Scholar and a recipient of the Dinkelspiel Award, the highest award given to undergraduate students at Stanford. Tubbs founded The Phoenix Scholars and the Summer Success and Leadership Academy at the University of the Pacific, and was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and as a speaker at TEDx San Joaquin and TEDx Stanford. He has been honored as one of Black Enterprise’s “Top 40 under 40,” The Root's ( “Top 25 under 25” and one of Reader Digest's “50 Things to Love about America.” He is the subject of the feature length documentary, “True Son,” which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. In addition to his duties as a councilmember, Tubbs is currently a fellow and lecturer at the Institute of Design at Stanford University.

Crossing Boundaries: A Practitioner’s View on Facilitating Meaningful Dialogue and Campus Engagement (video)
Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, Chancellor | Los Angeles Community College District

Increased national attention is being paid to the significant roles community colleges play in transferring students to the university and to building the middle class through workforce training. Key to this is bolstering the educational outcomes of the institution and its students. So what roles can college leaders play in shaping productive dialogue on the prickly issues of institutional performance and student success? What can be done to create, nurture, and sustain a campus culture that can ultimately lead to improving student success and to facilitating meaningful engagement by crossing boundaries? This opening session will offer the candid views of an accidental leader who now leads the largest community college district in the nation.

Dr. Francisco Rodriguez began his tenure as Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District on June 1, 2014. Prior to his appointment as head of the nation’s largest community college district, Dr. Rodriguez served as Superintendent/President at MiraCosta Community College District (Oceanside, CA) for five years and President at Cosumnes River College (Sacramento, CA) for six years. Dr. Rodriguez has dedicated his career to diversity, equity and inclusion issues and to outreach to underserved communities, particularly the development of young Latino and African American males.

Expanding Student Success in the 21st Century: Innovation, Disruption or Improvement? (video)
Dr. Martha J. Kanter , Distinguished Visiting Professor of Higher Education and Senior Fellow | New York University

Some noted scholars who call themselves reformers seek to disrupt higher education under the banner of innovation. Others are frustrated that community college graduation and rates are too low. Far too many aren’t aware of the transformative evidence-based remediation and pathways models that are taking hold on many campuses, despite the chronic underfunding of two-year institutions that educate nearly half of America’s undergraduates. This keynote session will offer a national perspective of the state of evidence, progress and impact of community colleges to propel the nation’s social and economic prosperity in the 21st century.

Dr. Martha J. Kanter is a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Higher Education and Senior Fellow at New York University. In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Kanter to serve as the U.S. Under Secretary of Education with oversight responsibility for federal postsecondary statutory, regulatory and administrative policies and programs for the U.S. Department of Education. Previously, Dr. Kanter served for sixteen years in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District as President of De Anza College and then Chancellor of the district. She began her career as an alternative high school teacher in Lexington, MA and established the first program for students with learning disabilities at San Jose City College.

The "E" Word
Darrick Smith, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Department of Leadership Studies, Organization and Leadership | University of San Francisco

As conditions of inequity persist in our society and continue to have a pervasive presence at all levels of our educational system, an examination of the assumptions that often define institutional culture and frame institutional practices is in order. This presentation will focus on the ideological and structural missteps that are commonly taken as colleges and community organizations work to improve completion rates in higher education. Attention will be paid specifically to issues of instructional support, the notion of rigor, and the social significance of the California Community College system.

Act Locally
Ken O'Donnell, Senior Director, Student Engagement and Academic Initiatives & Partnerships | California State University Office of the Chancellor

California has a legitimate interest in increasing student success, eliminating inequities and assuring high-quality degrees. These goals enjoy consensus support, but we find considerably less agreement on how best to reach them. Maybe that’s a good thing. Our colleges and universities serve a diverse state, with distinctive regional strengths, market demands and student needs. And the diversity only increases when we consider the needs of at-risk populations: interventions that work for some groups may fail others, or depend on local context. As California’s higher education leadership looks for ways to better serve the state, we will benefit from approaches that set clear goals and unequivocal metrics to judge progress. Yet, to choose how we do better, the most equitable decisions may be closest to home.

The Changing Landscape of Developmental Education
Wednesday, October 3 | 10:00 – 11:00 | Uri Treisman, Charles A. Dana Center | University of Texas, Austin

Developmental education is in the spotlight.  Just about everywhere faculty members, administrators and legislators are wrestling with the reformation of an enterprise that is widely perceived as shaped more by the weight of history than by the needs of today's academic programs or workplace needs.  I will describe what I believe to be the most promising elements of experimental work now taking place, as well as the details of some of the policies that—if not modified—would constitute a betrayal of the core mission of community colleges.   My hope for this talk is that it will lead to the creative redirection of energy now going into minor modification of current offerings to a fundamental redesign of community college pathways, focused on supporting upward social and economic mobility for our students.

2012 POWER Awards
Wednesday, October 3 | 1:00 – 1:45

Outcomes assessment directs our instructional, student service and administrative unit work by clearly describing and documenting the student knowledge, skills, abilities and beliefs that are a result of student learning activities and service interactions. It is also an important means of improving student success, guiding practice and driving institutional change. Well-designed outcomes assessment goes beyond compliance and can address multiple goals—sustainable and learner-centered implementation methods, demonstration of student progress in classes and programs and the generation of reliable and trustworthy data that document success and help guide interventions and improvement. Awards and highlights of the award winners' effective approaches will be highlighted in the lunchtime ceremony.

  • Outstanding Program-Level Outcomes Assessment: La Shawn Brinson, Los Angeles Southwest College

  • Local SLO Change Agent: Arkady Hanjiev, West Hills College Coalinga

  • Statewide SLO Champion: Fred Hochstaedter, Monterey Peninsula College

  • Lifetime Achievement: Julie Slark, retired

  • Lifetime Achievement: Jerry Rudmann, retired

What’s Hope Got to Do with It?
Thursday, October 4 | 1:15 – 2:15 | Ricardo Diaz, Jim Fillpot, Sherrie Guerrero, Laura Hope & Cindy Walker | Chaffey College

In an interactive panel, faculty and staff from Chaffey College discuss the rationale for adopting an institutional emphasis on hope, engagement and well-being in both student services and instruction. Based on extensive research from the Gallup organization, one of the single most compelling long-term predictors of academic achievement is hope. But what is it? And how can educators make hope actionable? The panel will discuss ways that Chaffey, through a partnership with Gallup, is beginning to measure it, teach it, and adopt it. As Chaffey has discovered, hope is not only an actionable educational strategy but a cultural compass that has the capacity to transform the college culture.

Rethinking Remedial Education and the Academic-Vocational Divide: What the Two Cases Can Teach Us About the Curricular, Institutional, and Societal Barriers to Comprehensive Reform

Mike Rose, UCLA | Thursday, October 13, 1:15-2:30

Along with government and philanthropic initiatives to help more Americans, particularly low-income Americans, enter and succeed in post-secondary education, there is a good deal of interest in remedial education (because a significant number of students are academically underprepared) and in Career and Technical Education, because a number of students elect an occupational pathway. On the remedial front, policy makers are calling for reform of remedial education, for it has proven to present various barriers to degree completion. On the CTE front, policy makers want more academic work integrated into career courses to better prepare students for the demands of the new economy. There is currently a lot of effort on both fronts. But both remediation and CTE emerge from and carry with them assumptions about cognition and learning that will limit their effectiveness, and these assumptions are reinforced by institutional structures and status dynamics and by the forces of social class. This presentation will offer an examination of these assumptions with the goal of moving beyond them. It also offers some reflection on research methodology suited to exploring the educational and social dimensions of complex topics like remediation and CTE.

Beyond the Fear Factor

Rebecca Cox, Seton Hall University | Friday, October 14, 8:30-9:45

In this keynote, Rebecca Cox discusses a central problem of teaching and learning: gaps between faculty expectations of students and students’ actual performances.  Drawing on her research, which includes extensive classroom observations and interviews with community-college faculty and students, she will highlight the students’ experiences and perspectives, which in turn, help explain student disengagement and counterproductive behavior.

Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete
Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Ph.D. , Assistant Professor of Raza Studies | Education Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies | Mandela High School |East Oakland | Thursday, October 7, 8:30 – 10:00 am

In this lecture, Jeff Duncan-Andrade draws from his 18 years as an urban educator to explore the concept of hope, as essential for nurturing urban youth. He first identifies three forms of “false hope”—hokey hope, mythical hope, and hope deferred—pervasive in and peddled by many urban schools. Discussion of these false hopes then gives way to Duncan-Andrade’s conception of “critical hope,” explained through the description of three necessary elements of educational practice that produce and sustain true hope.  Through the voices of young people and their teachers, and the invocation of powerful metaphor and imagery, Duncan-Andrade proclaims critical hope’s significance for an education that relieves undeserved suffering in communities.

Jeffrey Michael Reies Duncan-Andrade, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Raza Studies and Education Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies.  In addition to these duties, he continues as a high school teacher in East Oakland where for the past 18 years he has practiced and studied the use of critical pedagogy in urban schools. He currently teaches English at Mandela High School in East Oakland. Before joining the faculty at SFSU, Duncan-Andrade taught English and coached in the Oakland public schools for 10 years, and completed his doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Duncan-Andrade has lectured around the world about the elements of effective teaching in schools serving poor and working class children. He works closely with teachers, school site leaders, and school district officials nationally, and as far abroad as Brazil and New Zealand, to help them develop classroom practices and school cultures that foster self-confidence, esteem, and academic success among all students. His research interests and publications span the areas of urban schooling and curriculum change, urban teacher development and retention, critical pedagogy, and cultural and ethnic studies.  He has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters on the conditions of urban education, urban teacher support and development, and effective pedagogy in urban settings that have been published in leading journals such as Harvard Educational Review and Qualitative Studies in Education.  He recently completed two books, The Art of Critical Pedagogy: Possibilities for Moving from Theory to Practice in Urban Schools and What a Coach Can Teach a Teacher, with Peter Lang Publishing.  These books focus on effective pedagogical strategies for urban schools. He is currently completing his third book on the core competencies of highly effective urban educators with Routledge Press.

 A Federal View on Community Colleges
Frank Chong, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges in the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education| Thursday, October 7 , 1:15 – 1:45 pm

Dr. Chong will provide an overview of the President's College Completion Goal which states, “By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” Some estimate that in order to accomplish this goal, community colleges would need to graduate an additional 5 million students in the next ten years. Furthermore, the role of research will be a critical component in measuring and understanding student outcomes. Dr. Chong will discuss strategies and share approaches that will enable America’s community colleges to play a proactive role in meeting the President’s goal.

Frank Chong began his duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges in the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, in January, 2010. Prior to coming to Washington, D.C., Dr. Chong served as president of Laney College, the flagship of the Peralta Community College District in Oakland CA. Prior to assuming the Laney College presidency, he served as president of Mission College in Santa Clara CA and Dean of Student Affairs at City College of San Francisco. He was an appointed member of the San Francisco Children and Families Commission, and was elected to the San Francisco Board of Education in 1998. From 1987 to 1991, he served as special assistant to Willie L. Brown, Jr., the Speaker of the California State Assembly. Dr. Chong has served on numerous boards focused on higher education, including the Chief Executive Officers Board of the California Community Colleges and the American Council on Education Commission on Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity. He is the former president and founding member of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE), a national advocacy organization.  

One Journey, Many Paths
Donna McKusick, Dean | Developmental Education and Special Academic Programs | Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC)| Friday, October 8 , 8:30 – 9:45 am

In the keynote, Dr. McKusick will share CCBC’s journey of the past ten years of becoming increasingly focused on student success. This journey, spearheaded by the examination of learning outcomes and framed by national research literature, has led the college down many individual roads to increase levels of student and faculty engagement, improve outcomes for developmental learners, increase retention and graduation rates, and close achievement gaps. Strategies touched on will include acceleration in developmental education, learning communities, departmental pedagogy projects, culturally responsive instruction, and a college-wide student success course. Participants will hear about both wins and losses, effective strategies and mistakes, and will be encouraged to take an honest inventory of their own practices as they pave their own paths for student success.

Donna McKusick is dean for developmental education and special academic programs at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). In this position, she coordinates all aspects of developmental education and learning assistance for the CCBC system including developmental courses, tutorial support, the academic support course, learning communities, honors, and the libraries. She has degrees in English, Reading, and Education including a doctorate from University of Maryland in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on academic literacy. She has also received her certification in developmental education from the Kellogg Institute at Appalachian State University. Dr. McKusick has served community colleges for over thirty years in both instructional and administrative capacities. She has been the author, principle investigator, and director for major grants including Workplace Literacy, Title III, and a federal earmark for CCBC’s Closing the Gap Initiative, and she led the college to its achievement of the MetLife Community College Excellence Award in 2008. She is currently assisting in the coordination of CCBC’s participation in the National Learning Communities Demonstration Project and the Achieving the Dream program. Dr. McKusick co-authored a book with Dr. Al Starr, Making Sense: A Guide for Readers and Writers, published by Pearson. She has provided consultation, delivered presentations, and published articles on literacy, developmental education, learning communities, and closing the achievement gap in higher education.