Sunday, July 5, 2020
The RP Group

nullAbout Our People

LFM coaches and facilitators are a dynamic group of (instructional and counseling) faculty, department chairs, directors, program coordinators, deans, student services professionals, researchers, and classified staff. The majority of our coaches and facilitators are graduates of LFM. As middle leaders themselves, they bring real-world experience, which serves to augment and contextualize the LFM curriculum. A few of our coaches have moved from middle leadership positions to become leaders in upper administration.



Coaching Coordinators

Ireri Valenzuela, Co-director

Ireri Valenzuela, Co-director

Ireri Valenzuela joined the RP Group as a Senior Researcher in 2014 bringing with her a breadth of experience in qualitative research, program design and implementation, and technical assistance provision. In 2017, Ireri assumed the role of Lead Coaching Coordinator for Leading from the Middle; subsequently moving into the position of Associate Director in 2018, and in 2020 accepted the role of Co-director... (Read More)

Prior to joining the RP Group, Ireri spent five years as part of MDRC’s Young Adults and Postsecondary Education Policy Area, where she worked on two national demonstration projects: the Learning Communities Demonstration and the Performance Based Scholarship Demonstration, which were designed to explore new ways to improve college access, persistence, and success for low-income and underprepared students. She also co-authored an early findings report on the Adelante Performance Based Award Program at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ and a Technical Assistance Guide to Performance Based Scholarships.

Formerly, Ireri worked at California Tomorrow where she developed, implemented, and directed the Campus Change Network (CCN). The CCN was a yearlong program focused on building the capacity of California Community College faculty, administrators, staff, and students to address equity gaps among underrepresented students by equipping them with skills and strategies to advance structural reform efforts through a focus on systems change.

While attaining her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Ireri taught English to Latino and South East Asian immigrants in the Central Valley. Inspired by her students’ resilience and witnessing the impact education has had on their lives, Ireri returned to school for a master’s degree in Adult Education from San Francisco State University. By applying a systemic lens and the principles of adult education to her work, Ireri has been able to focus her career on supporting social justice and structural reform efforts in higher education.

Coaches

Alex Adams, Coach

Alex Adams

Alex Adams began his participation in Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2017 as a member of the Fresno City College team and became a coach in 2018. After taking a break in 2019, he is excited to come back to LFM as a coach and member of the LFM evaluation workgroup... (Read More)

He is the Director of Institutional Research, Evaluation, and Planning at Clovis Community College. Before that, he worked as a Senior Research and Planning Analyst at Fresno City College.

Alex has over 10 years of experience in Social Science Research and is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of New Mexico with a specialization in Survey Methodology.

His work in Institutional Research has focused heavily on planning, research, and evaluation for Student Equity, including the development of many Tableau dashboards designed to provide understandable, actionable data used to inform strategic decisions focused on increasing student success and closing equity gaps.

Rose Asera, Coach

Rose Asera

Rose Asera began her participation in Leading from the Middle as the Academy’s internal evaluator. She is currently a member of the LFM Steering Committee and a researcher and leader for the RP Group, where she has helped produce the Strengthening Student Success Conference. In this role, she worked with the the partner organizations, the conference’s steering committee, and RP Group staff to build the breadth and depth of the conference content... (Read More)

Rose Asera has also served as director of the Carnegie Foundation’s community college project, Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community College (SPECC), which was a powerful incubator for segments of present day community college work and has been responsible for nurturing a number of campus and statewide leaders.

Across her career, Rose has been a leader from the middle, side, and back. While she steps to the front when the need arises, she prefers to provide support from behind the curtain.

Artour Aslanian, Coach

Artour Aslanian

Artour Aslanian first participated in Leading from the Middle in 2018 as a member of the Crafton Hills College (CHC) team. In 2019, he joined the Leading from the Middle coaching team.

Artour started his career in academia as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Azusa Pacific University in 2012 and has since taught at California State University, San Bernardino, California Polytechnic University, Pomona, and Chadron State College. In January 2017... (Read More)

Artour became an Assistant Research Analyst at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and in October of that year took the position as the Senior Research & Planning Analyst at Crafton Hills. In this capacity, he is involved in efforts to enhance data literacy, assist in the implementation of Guided Pathways and AB 705, as well as various efforts around campus designed to eliminate equity gaps for students.

Artour is currently a Ph.D. candidate of Political Science at Claremont Graduate University. His academic research has focused on addressing and highlighting the disparities in Voting Rights among Native Americans residing in South Dakota as well as the experience of Native American elected officials in South Dakota.


   

Melissa Bader

Melissa Bader began her participation in Leading from the Middle in 2016 as a member of the Norco College LFM team. She joined the Leading from the Middle coaching team in 2018. Melissa brings a great deal of college leadership experience to LFM, including serving as the Chair for the Communications Department and lead for the English discipline... (Read More)

She has also been a member of her Academic Senate, has attended the State Senate Leadership Institute; and has led the development of a a training program for new full-time faculty.

She has also served as the District Enrollment Management Representative for Norco College in her multi-college district; is the current Chair of Chairs, and is the current Institutional Strategic Planning Council Co-Chair for her college.

Melissa’s work with her LFM team helped establish the meta-majors and initial pathways for Norco College, and she is now co-chairing Norco College’s Competition Initiative and the Norco California Pathways Initiative workgroup.

In addition to helping develop a nationally-recognized summer bridge program focused on appropriate placement in English and math, Melissa has played an integral role in the effective onboarding of incoming first-year students.

Quinton Bemiller, Coach

Quinton Bemiller

Quinton Bemiller participated in the 2018 LFM Academy, and joined the LFM coaching team in 2019. With his Norco College colleagues, he designed a comprehensive strategic plan for professional development, aligned with Guided Pathways.

A community college alumnus of Pasadena City College, Quinton began teaching at Chaffey College in 2007, and joined Norco College in 2013... (Read More)

At Norco College, he has served as Department Chair of Art, Humanities, Philosophy and World Languages, and as Chair of the Teaching and Learning Committee. Quinton has been actively involved with the Academic Senate, Guided Pathways, Accreditation, Curriculum, Program Review, Assessment, and Equity work at his college. He is an Associate Professor of Art/Art History, and is Director of the Norco College Art Gallery.

Quinton is a doctoral candidate at California State University, San Bernardino, currently completing an EdD in Higher Education/Community College Leadership, with an emphasis on Social Justice. His research focuses on community college faculty leaders and their experiences while transitioning into administrative roles.

Erica Biely, Coach

Erica Biely

Erica Biely has been working in higher education for more than 20 years. She is currently a senior research analyst at Allan Hancock College where she is a regular member of the Institutional Effectiveness Council, Student Equity and 3SP committee, Guided Pathways committee, and MMAP committee... (Read More)

Before becoming an analyst, she was an Associate Director of the Center for Digital Games Research Center at UC Santa Barbara and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Communication at Santa Barbara City College and Speech Department at Allan Hancock College.

She has served as a research consultant on several large grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, UNICEF, and Children Now.

She holds an MA in communication from the University of Arizona and a BA in psychology from UC Santa Barbara. In 2020, Erica joined the Leading from the Middle coaching team.

Reagen Dozier, Coach

Reagen Dozier

Reagen Dozier was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. She received her baccalaureate degree in History from University of California, Berkeley and her Master's degree in Educational Counseling with a concentration in Student Affairs from California State University, Bakersfield. Reagen also has a professional certificate in Grant Writing from San Diego State University, College of Extended Studies. Prior to joining Porterville College to become the Basic Skills Program Manager, Reagen worked in the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships at Bakersfield College and California State University, Bakersfield... (Read More)

Through pure happenstance, Reagen has worked for all three public college/university systems in California. Reagen is a middle child with six brothers and sisters. She has two dogs (one is a German Shepherd mix and the other is a Shih Tzu and Poodle mix) named Yoshi and Marshmallow. Reagan’s passion is working with at-risk youth and she volunteer’s her services to assist with the Girl Power Conference at CSUB each year. Reagen enjoys museums, traveling, and musicals.

Reagan first participated in LFM in 2018 as a member of Porterville College’s LFM team. In 2019, she will continue her involvement with LFM by moving into a coaching role and joining the LFM coaching team.

End Vicki Fabbri, Coach

Vicki Fabbri

Working now as an LFM coach, Vicki Fabbri began her participation in LFM as a lead member of the Cabrillo College team. The team spent two years with the LFM program developing ideas about how guided pathways could be applied to the college and setting the stage for the college’s acceptance into the California Guided Pathways Project... (Read More)

Vicki’s role as an education leader began in the late 1970's as the coordinator of substance abuse education and prevention for the Guam Department of Education.

After graduate school she was the Assistant Director of the Program on Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawaii Manoa for several years. When she returned to teaching in California, she led a 5-year program planning process for the San Jose State University Communications Department.

Vicki has been at Cabrillo Community College since 2000 and during that time has participated in many college initiatives and committees. A few specific roles include: faculty Union Executive Board Member, Union Vice-President, Academy of College Excellence Director and Master Mentor trainer, faculty senate representative, faculty student-success and equity Coordinator. Currently, she is the Department Chair of the Communication Studies Department.

Luis Enrique Flores, Coach

Luis Enrique Flores

Luis Enrique Flores was a member of Merced College’s two-year Leading from the Middle team in 2016 and 2017, and joined the coaching crew in 2018. Luis hopes to create safe and active spaces that foster dialogue around the dynamic intersections of race/ethnicity, gender, abilities and other isms, and the impact they play in leadership development... (Read More)

He is currently a Senior Research Analyst, serving on a variety of committees, from shared governance to curriculum to Institutional Review Board (IRB) to CSEA’ E-Board, and works on a variety of initiatives, such as learning communities, MMAP, and guided pathways.

Outside of community college life, Luis has participated in various leadership institutes in and out of the Central Valley and currently sits on several boards, advocating for and committing to community-oriented social justice, including Valley Land Alliance (VLA), a non-profit promoting ag land and open space preservation in Merced County.

He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Luis, a proud cachanilla, enjoys slow food, Latin American art and community organizing/activism.

Danielle Graham, Coach

Danielle Graham

Danielle Graham participated in the 2017 Leading from the Middle (LFM) Academy as a team member from Chaffey College. During her time as a Research Analyst at Chaffey, Danielle participated on many college committees, including College Planning Council, Accreditation Oversight Committee, Outcomes and Assessment Committee, and President’s Equity Council. She also served as the data and research specialist on two faculty inquiry teams and as part of a Basic Skills Initiative Leadership Institute (BSILI) team in 2017. She served on Classified Senate and took an active role in CSEA... (Read More)

After teaching part-time at CSU Fullerton and CSU San Bernardino, Danielle took her research and statistics background into the classroom as she transitioned into a full-time faculty role at Pasadena City College in 2018. Currently, Danielle is one of two full-time faculty members in the Psychology Department at San Bernardino Valley College and she serves as a community member on the Institutional Review Board at Mt. San Antonio College. She is excited to join the LFM coaching team in 2020.

Kelsey Harrison, Coach

Kelsey Harrison

Kelsey Harrison began her participation in Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2018 as a part of the College of San Mateo team and joined the LFM coaching team in 2020. She is the Transition Coordinator at College of San Mateo. In partnership with the adult school transition specialists, and adult education consortia, Kelsey assists in implementing programs and services that assist in bridging the gap between adult education students’ transitioning to community college... (Read More)

Prior to this role she worked for the San Mateo County Community College’s Foundation.

Kelsey started her career in education in High School, working at the local non-profit in the small town of Pescadero. She attended College of San Mateo, where she earned her AS in Geological Sciences, and during her time served as the lead student ambassador for the Community Relations and Marketing Departments Student Ambassador program. She earned her BA in Sociology from the University of California Davis and her Masters in Educational Leadership from CSU East Bay.

Hans Hauselmann, Coach

Hans Hauselmann

Hans Hauselmann participated in the 2018 Central Valley Leading from the Middle (LFM) Academy as a team member of the Modesto Junior College (MJC), and again in 2019. He has been a part-time faculty member at MJC since 2013, teaching in the areas of history and first-year experience. He has also been teaching part-time at San Joaquin Delta Community College since 2014... (Read More)

Hans’s work with his LFM teams helped facilitate campus-wide discussions on the development of meta-majors; coordinated faculty training in developing flexible-fifteen roadmaps, program roadmaps, and program profiles; and redesigned the first-year experience as it relates to the college’s Guided Pathways framework.

As a middle leader at MJC, Hans has served on the Academic Senate Executive as Legislative Analyst and Adjunct-at-Large Senator. He has also served as the faculty co-coordinator for MJC’s First Year Experience course, Guided Pathways Communication Coordinator, and is an active member of the college’s Pathways Implementation Team and Steering Committee.

Ethan Hartsell, Coach

Ethan Hartsell

Ethan Hartsell has been a professor of Communication at Porterville College since 2017, where he teaches classes on public speaking, interpersonal communication, mass communication, small group communication, and persuasion. He began his participation with Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2019 as a participant, on the Porterville LFM team, and moved into a coaching role in LFM in 2020... (Read More)

At Porterville College, Ethan is working on the Guided Pathways committee in charge of developing meta-majors and program maps. He also has been active on the PC curriculum committee, scholarship committee, and student success and equity committee.

Ethan received his PhD in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. His research examined political identity and perceptions of credibility and bias in news media.

Michael Hoffman, Coach

Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman has been a mathematics instructor in the San Mateo Community College District (SMCCD) since 2007. During his tenure in the SMCCD, Michael has been involved in programs related to student-success and equity. He was the faculty Equity Coordinator at Cañada College for several years and currently works on Faculty Development initiatives related to improving Equity in STEM programs.

Michael has been an LFM coach since 2017.

Brandi Howard, Coaching Coordinator

Brandi Howard

Brandi began her participation in Leading from the Middle as a member of the Laney College team in 2017, joined LFM’s coaching team in 2018 and has recently taken on the position of co-coaching coordinator for the program. Brandi currently works as Legal Coordinator for the Peralta Community College District. Previously, she held the position of Staff Assistant to the President of Laney College and had a leadership role, as Advisor to Laney College's... (Read More)

Alpha Chi Theta, Phi Theta Kappa Chapter that Brandi maintains to the present.

In 2015, Brandi joined the Laney College Classified Senate and was elected senate President in 2016. Before working in education, Brandi held executive administrative roles in the corporate and non-profit sector.

Brandi enjoys working in education and found collaborating with LFM to be rewarding because it gives her “a new perspective on how the work of education can ideally be done”. She believes that success can be achieved by students and staff and will come as a result of demonstrated reciprocity by highlighting the importance of collaboration and professional development through consistent focused work and commitment to the overall mission of our education system.

Hal Huntsman, Coach

Hal Huntsman

Hal Huntsman has taught math in the California Community College system as both classified staff and faculty since 2001. His work focuses on closing achievement gaps for underrepresented students. To that end, Hal helped lead reform movements in mathematics and placement at City College of San Francisco (CCSF), where he also served as Academic Senate president from 2008 to 2010... (Read More)

He was part of the leadership team for CCSF’s Multicultural Infusion Project, a professional development program that trained over 200 faculty, and a faculty advisor to the CCSF student group, Students Making a Change (SMAC). Although he has relocated to Antelope Valley College, he still serves on SMAC’s advisory board.

Hal believes that leadership can take many forms, as long as it helps create institutions in which equity and justice are systemic, structural, and sustainable. He has master’s degrees in English literature, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and pure math from California State University, East Bay.

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson began her participation in LFM in 2018 as a member of the Bakersfield College team participating in the first academy developed specifically for Central Valley Colleges. She joined the LFM coaching team in 2019.

Jennifer brings more than 28 years of experience as a Nursing Professor at Bakersfield College (BC) and has been actively engaged in many college committees and initiatives... (Read More)

Currently, she is serving in both local and state leadership roles including the BC Department Chair for Nursing, faculty Co-Chair of the BC Curriculum Committee, faculty member of the BC Guided Pathways Implementation Team, member of the ASCCC legislative committee, and is an ASCCC appointed member to the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee (5C). Her engagement at the varied levels of governance represents her commitment to understanding and improving systems that will enhance a student’s educational experience.

As Department Chair of the Nursing Department, she has developed mentoring and support systems for new nursing faculty and has developed a departmental early alert process for nursing students.

Jennifer McCandless

Jennifer McCandless

Jennifer McCandless has worked at Shasta College for 21 years. She spent her first 20 years as a mathematics instructor, and is now the Dean of Pathways and Learning Support (PALS). Her current role gives her the opportunity to participate deeply in Guided Pathways implementation while also working with the Tutoring and Learning Centers and various programs designed to support re-engaging adults... (Read More)

high school students, and foundational skills (including ESL) students. Over the years, Jennifer has served in a variety of leadership roles at the college and state level.

Jennifer was the Math Department Coordinator for several years, and in her last four years as an instructor, she also worked in the Math Tutoring and Learning Center where she was able to engage deeply in the world of learning assistance. She has a passion for helping students reach their goals. In her current role as the Dean of PALS, she gets to take part in reimagining the Shasta experience for the entire campus community.

Jennifer was a Leading from the Middle (LFM) participant in 2019 and joined the LFM coaching team in 2020. She appreciates the opportunity that LFM has provided for refining her own leadership skills and goals: be authentic, collaborative, and to inspire others.

Robert Melendez

Robert Melendez

Robert Melendez is a counselor, professor, and the Chair of the School of Guidance and Counseling at Irvine Valley College. Robert has worked within the California Community College system for well over 20 years. During that time, he has made significant contributions in the areas of counseling... (Read More)

instruction, management, and leadership. His leadership and experience in a wide variety of programs include veterans, honors, basic skills, Early Alert, Guided Pathways, Dual Enrollment/Early College, and outreach. Robert is a community college graduate and has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine and a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Chapman University.

Although well versed in numerous counseling modalities, Robert often utilizes a data informed, humanistic, and student-centered approach in working with students. His counseling philosophy is based on a theoretical construct that supports the developmental style of self-awareness, academic success, and self-actualization. Robert was a Leading from the Middle (LFM) participant in 2015 and joined the LFM coaching team in 2020.

Brent Monte

Brent Monte

Brent Monte first began his affiliation with Leading from the Middle (LFM) as a participant, and felt that what he and his team learned from the Institute directly led to their progress and success in implementing Guided Pathways at Irvine Valley College... (Read More)

When the opportunity arose to share his knowledge and experience as a coach to other LFM attendees, Brent became a member of the LFM team in 2019 without hesitation.

Brent Monte considers himself first and foremost a teacher, currently teaching primarily statistics and calculus. Having obtained his PhD in Higher Education Leadership, he is currently serving as o-chair of the Mathematics Department at Irvine Valley College. Previously, Brent has been co-coordinator of Guided Pathways, Basic Skills Initiative (BSI) Coordinator, academic senate representative, faculty association representative, and a member of the curriculum committee. In his spare time, Brent enjoys spending time with his three children, and running marathons.

Aimee Myers

Aimee Myers

Born, raised, and educated in Southern California’s “Inland Empire,” Aimee Myers is a proud product of California public education.

She received her PhD in American History in 1995 from UC Riverside. Aimee moved to the North/Far North region to teach Social Studies and English in Humboldt County’s Mattole Valley in 1998... (Read More)

In 2002, Aimee relocated to Placer County and taught world and American history at Sierra College for 16 years.

Actively involved in shared governance at the college, Aimee served as Curriculum Chair, Student Learning Outcomes Coordinator, Academic Senate Vice-President, and Dual Enrollment Faculty Coordinator. Aimee recently spent 16 months working for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office as a Guided Pathways Regional Coordinator, serving the fifteen North/Far North colleges in support of their work building guided pathways to student success and completion. She returned to Sierra College to act as their first Dual Enrollment Director in January 2020.

Ben Mudgett

Ben Mudgett

Ben Mudgett is a past Leading from the Middle (LFM) participant and coach. He is a full time faculty member at Palomar College serving as the Articulation Officer. He is extensively involved in curricular and programmatic planning and is engaged in Guided Pathways, AB 705, the Associate Degree for Transfer, and various local initiatives... (Read More)

Ben is a Board member and regional representative for the California Intersegmental Articulation Council where he represents and advocates for the region of San Diego on issues and challenges facing students transferring to the four year university. He also serves on the North County Higher Education Alliance where collaborative intersegmental efforts are designed and implemented to address cohesive emerging priorities for the North County of San Diego.

Ben serves as a Senator for the local Faculty Senate and also serves as a faculty appointed representative for the California Community College Chancellor’s office Credit for Prior Learning Advisory Committee. In his spare time, Ben enjoys running, ocean canoeing, and spending time at the beach.

Vanson Nguyen

Vanson Nguyen

Vanson Nguyen is a mathematics faculty member at the College of Alameda. He is Department Co-Chair and recently completed his EdD from San Francisco State University. His dissertation focused on equitable practices in the mathematics classroom and he hopes to use his dissertation to help transform community college classrooms to meet the needs of the most under-served students... (Read More)

A product of the community colleges, he is most interested in improving instruction to transform the lives of marginalized populations.

Vanson joined the Leading from the Middle coaching team in 2019.

Newin Paul Orante

Newin Paul Orante

Newin Paul Orante first participated in Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2016 as a member of the Diablo Valley College (DVC) team. In 2020, he joined the LFM Coaching team.

Since 2012, Newin has served in the position of the Vice President of Student Services at DVC...(Read More)

He holds over 25 years of experience working in various systems and segments of education, and has served the last 18 years in the California Community College System.

Prior to DVC, Newin was the Dean of Student and Academic Affairs at Laney College in Oakland, California. Moreover, he served for seven years as the Director of Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and CalWORKs at Los Medanos College, and towards the end of his tenure as the Dean of Student Development.

Newin is an active member of the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE). He also currently serves as a Board Member for the City of Oakland based community organization, Homies Empowerment. As a scholar-practitioner, Newin’s work is predicated by his commitment to organizational development, community relations, and social justice education.

Toni Parsons, Coach

Toni Parsons

Toni Parsons attended the Leading from the Middle (LFM) academy in 2019 from San Diego Mesa College, where she is the Pathways Co-coordinator and math faculty. She has been a contract faculty member at Mesa College since 2005. During that time she has served as a faculty leader through various positions including Curriculum Chair, ... (Read More)

Senate Treasurer, Department Chair, Basic Skills Math Coordinator, New Faculty Institute Mentor, and most recently as Pathways Co-coordinator. She has also served at the state level on the ASCCC Basic Skills, Curriculum and CTE Leadership Committees as well as the BOG Strong Workforce Taskforce in 2015.

Outside of her professional realm, she is a mother of two amazing teenagers – Nicolas and Maralyn. She is also a current EdD doctoral candidate at SDSU looking to graduate May of 2020. Her dissertation topic is on the degree aspirations of STEM majors that begin their postsecondary education at community college.

Kurt Piland, Coach

Kurt Piland

Kurt Piland is the Director of College Relations and Outreach for Reedley College, Madera Community College Center, and the Oakhurst Community College Center.

Kurt completed his EdD, which had an emphasis on leadership in higher education, in 2017. His dissertation focused on the veteran student experience in the community colleges as they transition back into civilian life... (Read More)

Kurt has an extensive background in CTE counseling and student services. He has worked for State Center Community College District for the past 14 years in various capacities including Adjunct Instructor, Perkins Counselor/Coordinator, Veterans Counselor, Career Advancement Academy Program Lead, PG&E Power Pathway Coordinator, Counseling Department Lead, and Principal Investigator on various grants. Kurt also serves on several campus and district-level leadership councils, committees, and workgroups.

Kurt is highly involved in Guided Pathways design and implementation at both Reedley College and Madera Community College Center.

Kurt first participated in Leading from the Middle in 2018 as a member of the Reedley College team. In 2019, he joined the Leading from the Middle coaching team.

Holly Piscopo, Coach

Holly Piscopo

Holly Piscopo, faculty coordinator at Sacramento City College, leads the Pathways Contextualization Project. As a teacher committed to social justice and reality pedagogy, Holly is a long-type hype-woman for contextualizing core competencies such as these across the curriculum:

(a) creative and critical thinking
(b) quantitative reasoning
(c) clear communication
(d) empathy, and
(e) persistence through challenges...  (Read More)

Due to her commitment to contextualization as a meaningful and data-informed equity strategy, Holly is currently working with the state Chancellor’s Office and state Academic Senate to integrate it into our statewide guided pathways efforts.

Prior to this, Holly’s 20+-year experience in community college leadership includes teaching history, launching the collaboratively-taught Everyone Can Code program, writing and leading the three-year Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation grant at SCC, co-creating the campus Teachers 4 Equity professional learning community, and serving as a coordinator in a few roles.

And if you think Holly is passionate about contextualization, you should see her eyes light up about her two little boys, or travel, or delicious cheeses. In that order. Or, preferably, contextualized together.

Micheline Pontious, Coach

Micheline Pontious

Micheline Pontious began her participation in Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2019 Academy as part of the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) team and joined the LFM coaching team in 2020.

Micheline started working in California Community Colleges in 2015 first at Mt. San Antonio College in the Research and Institutional Effectiveness Office, where her passion for Institutional Research grew... (Read More)

In 2016, Micheline was hired in the Office of Research and Planning at City College of San Francisco and has enjoyed living in the Bay Area ever since.

At CCSF, Micheline focuses on Student Equity, Guided Pathways, and institutional research and the integration of all three. Micheline, starting in 2016 through 2019, has also worked as a consultant for the IEPI Integrated Planning team through the RP Group, which has offered her opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from across the state and build partnerships with faculty, research staff, and administrators.

Despina Prapavessi

Despina Prapavessi

Despina Prapavessi began her participation in Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2015 as a member of the Diablo Valley College (DVC) team and joined the LFM coaching team in 2018. Under LFM mentorship, Despina and the DVC team created Stemovation, now a 3 year-old STEM faculty initiative, based on data, to bring equity in Math and Science disciplines using multi-pronged strategies...(Read More)

Despina has worked in the Community College system for 27 years and is currently the Dean of Math/Computer Science and Business/Culinary Arts, at DVC. In this role, she led the development of the MESA (Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement) program; established the Statway pathways at the college as part of her work in Math Acceleration, including, writing and implementing three national grant awards, and supported the on-boarding of the Year-Up program (a community partner that offers one-year, intensive training programs in IT Helpdesk/Desktop Support and Program Management for under-served young adults ages 18-24).

Prior to becoming Dean, Despina served as Department Chair, taught the full Math curriculum, and served on various shared governance college bodies such as accreditation committees and college councils. Despina holds a PhD, an MA, and a BA degree in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dan Reade, Coach

Dan Reade

A full-time faculty member at Norco College, Dan Reade first joined Leading from the Middle (LFM) as a participant in 2018. As part of Norco’s team for that year, Dan worked with his peers to develop their college’s professional development plan, a comprehensive guide towards improving professional development activities in the college with particular focuses on Guided Pathways and the support of associate faculty... (Read More)

Dan is excited to return to LFM as a coach in 2020, providing support to new participants as they strive to improve the experiences of their peers and students.

At Norco, Dan teaches composition and literature classes. Over the last several years, he has served in a leading role in the school’s Equity and professional development efforts, working as part of the school’s Equity team to develop and facilitate training opportunities for faculty members and to create a repository of resources for Equity-minded faculty. Dan is also co-chair of Norco’s Teaching and Learning Committee, responsible for identifying and guiding additional training opportunities for faculty, and supporting the collegial atmosphere for which Norco is known.

Josh Roberts, Coach

Josh Roberts

Josh Roberts spent the first five of his almost 20 years of his teaching career at the high school level. Upon arriving at Sacramento City College (SCC), he quickly noticed the disconnect between what was happening at the local high schools and SCC, and eventually created and now coordinates SCC’s High School English Pathways program, a curricular collaboration between SCC’s English faculty, the English instructors at SCC’s main, feeder high schools, and Sacramento State, their local CSU. Over the years, Josh has served in a variety of leadership roles at the college, district, and state levels... (Read More)

He served as the chair of the English Department at Sacramento City College, on their Academic Senate, and on multiple district-level committees for the Los Rios Community College District. In 2014, he was appointed by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) to serve as the statewide representative for English faculty on the Common Assessment Initiative, and he currently serves on the Faculty Association for California Community College’s Legislation and Advocacy Committee.

Josh first joined LFM in 2018 as a member of Sacramento City College’s Guided Pathways team. In 2019, he will continue his involvement with LFM by moving into a coaching role and joining the LFM coaching team.

Chris J. Smith, Coach

Christopher J. Smith

Chris Smith, a former LFM participant, has been teaching biology at College of San Mateo since 2006 and became a full-time instructor in 2011. He joined the LFM coaching team in 2018.

He has been a regular member of the Curriculum Committee and the Distance Education committee... (Read More)

As part of a faculty team, he was awarded a District Chancellor’s grant to explore approaches to online education, and subsequently, he presented his research on online social activity and group work at California Community Colleges Online Teaching Conference as well as at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Chris has also been a regular attendee at the ASCCC institutes on Online Education, Curriculum, Continuing Technical Education, Biotechnology, C-ID teams, and Accreditation.

Rob Stevenson

Rob Stevenson

Rob Stevenson participated in the 2018 Central Valley LFM Academy as a team member of the Modesto Junior College (MJC), and joined the LFM coaching team in 2019. He has been a faculty member at MJC since 2001, teaching in the areas of art history, humanities, and studio art. In 2017 he accepted an appointment as a faculty co-lead for MJC’s four-year Guided Pathways implementation... (Read More)

As a middle leader at MJC, Rob has served on the Academic Senate Executive team, as Co-Chair of the Instruction Counsel, chair of the Equivalency Committee, chair of the Academic Standards Committee, and at the state level as the Course Identification Numbering System (C-ID) lead for Studio Arts.

Over the years, Rob has been recognized for his commitment to teaching and learning earning several scholarly awards including: two National Endowment for the Humanities Institute Fellowships. The first to study South Asian culture in New Delhi, India; and the second to study Islam in Asia at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also received a fellowship from the Korea Society at the Academy for Korean Studies in Seoul, South Korea; and the Dar al Islam Teachers’ Institute. Finally, he was honored with MJC’s Online Teacher of the Year award in 2016-17.

Michael Takeda, Coach

Michael Takeda

Michael Takeda began his participation in LFM in 2017 as a member of the Fresno City College team, which leveraged its time and experience with the academy to begin the process of developing the Guided Pathways framework for the entire college.

Michael played a key role in establishing the structure for the initial Pathways student cohort and implementing many of its key elements, including a new and comprehensive first-time-student orientation and the FCC Common Read... (Read More)

Using his experience at LFM, Michael is now part of the official workgroup that will manage the campus-wide implementation of Guided Pathways.

He has led the charge for pre-collegiate course acceleration, including membership on the FCC Pilot team for the RP Group’s Multiple Measures Assessment Project (MMAP) and Common Assessment Initiative.

In addition to his academic responsibilities at Fresno City College, Michael has co-organized a series of annual events to celebrate Asian culture, In his current role as President of the Asian American Faculty and Staff Association, he has fought for the disaggregation of demographic identifiers for Asian students, and founded events to celebrate achievements and connect the campus to the community.

Tabitha Villalba, Coach

Tabitha Villalba

Tabitha Villalba began her career as a writing tutor and teaching assistant at California State University, Fresno. She continued her career as an adjunct English instructor at several different community colleges in the San Joaquin Valley before becoming the Writing and Reading Center Coordinator for Fresno City College in 2008.

Tabitha continued her role as an instructor in learning assistance as part of the Library and Student Learning Support Services Division... (Read More)

serving in various leadership roles on campus including Program Review Coordinator and Academic Senate President before accepting an Interim Dean’s position in the Humanities Division. She was also President of the Association of Colleges for Tutoring and Learning Assistance 2014-2016. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

Tabitha is a former LFM participant and has been a coaching for Leading from the Middle since 2018.

Elizabeth Villalobos, Coach

Elizabeth Villalobos

Elizabeth Villalobos is the Senior Research and Planning Analyst at Madera and Oakhurst Community College Centers. She has worked for State Center Community College District for the past 4 years, starting as a Research Assistant at Reedley College. Elizabeth values the community college journey and understands how pivotal the experience can be for a student, as she was once a community college student herself at the same district she now works in... (Read More)

Resulting from her experience as a community college student, Elizabeth now advocates for the inclusion of student voice to inform campus projects and promotes opportunities to use data to inform process and practices at her college.

Elizabeth is also part of the Program Review committee, Guided Pathways core team, Basic Needs and Equity, Classified Senate Member, and past Vice President interim Classified Senate President for a short time.

Elizabeth earned a graduate degree in Business with an emphasis on Leadership and Organizational Development. Elizabeth first participated in Leading from the Middle in 2019 as a member of the Reedley College team and joined the Leading from the Middle coaching team in 2020. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors including hikes and camping with her husband Israel.

Diva Ward, Coach

Diva Ward

Diva C. Ward has been working in higher education for more than 20 years. Building on her librarian roots, Diva found her passion in higher education while working as an Assistant Project Director for the Upward Bound Program. She first discovered her passion for students, data, and data storytelling by working with low-income and first-generation students with Upward Bound... (Read More)

After spending more than 10 years working with TRIO, Diva then worked as a Hub Director for the Biotechnology Center — housed at Ventura College and funded through the California Economic Workforce and Development Department.

Diva also served as a Title V HSI Grant Director and Director of Student Support at Cañada College and continues to work as a collaborator and community-building instrument of change. She also continues to use data, data storytelling and data analysis as tools to guide her work and the design and implementation of programs and services that positively impact student success.

Terrence Willet, Coach

Terrence Willet

Terrence Willett is the Dean of Research, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California and the founding researcher for the Multiple Measures Assessment Project (MMAP) by the Research and Planning Group. He has over 20 years of experience in program planning and evaluation, large-scale relational database integration and analyses... (Read More)

creating predictive models using statistical and machine learning techniques, data dashboard design and implementation, and geographic information systems (GIS) analyses. Mr. Willett also has experience as a Field Biology instructor and as a math and science tutor for the general student population as well as for the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program and for Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS). He has published papers and presented on topics including the use of high school data in college placement, evaluating acceleration curricula in English and math, student engagement and support service effectiveness, predicting student persistence, and the impacts of logging on redwood forest spider communities.

Mr. Willett earned his BA in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his MS in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University in addition to studying science and music at Cabrillo College. Terrence is joining the Leading from the Middle coaching team in 2020.

Robyn Wornall, Coach

Robyn Wornall

Robyn Wornall first participated in Leading from the Middle as a member of the Napa Valley College (NVC) team, focused on Guided Pathways.

Robyn is the Dean of Research, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness at NVC and has been involved in research and planning roles for more than 15 years... (Read More)

She has served as the Accreditation Liaison Officer since 2013 and was recently appointed to serve as the project manager coordinating NVC’s Guided Pathways implementation efforts.

Robyn is a graduate of the Asilomar Leadership Skills Seminar (sponsored by the Community College League of California) and NVC’s (home-grown) Leadership Academy. She appreciates the opportunity that LFM provides for refining and applying individual leadership skills in the context of a team with shared responsibility for effecting institutional change. She looks forward to sharing the unique LFM experience with others.

Facilitators

Rebecca Wong, Lead Facilitator

Rebecca Wong, Lead Facilitator

Rebecca Wong has been with Leading from the Middle since its inception in 2013. She is a Steering Committee member, facilitator, and lead curriculum developer for the program.

Rebecca started her career in education as a high school teacher at one of the largest high schools in California located in a very diverse and economically challenged community... (Read More)

She has served as a Chapter I Resource Specialist; has helped develop and evaluate programs designed to improve proficiency in Language Arts and mathematics; and has coordinated the University and College Opportunity Program, assisting underrepresented students in enrolling in 4-year institutions after high school graduation.

Rebecca has served as chair of the Mathematics Department and as the Division Chair of the Science/Math division at West Valley College and is currently the director of its Title III grant. As an active leader in her community, she also serves on the East Side Union High School District Education Foundation Board, supporting the needs of the ESUHSD community.

Ben Gamboa, Lead Facilitator

Ben Gamboa, Lead Facilitator

Ben Gamboa began his participation in Leading from the Middle in 2014 as a member of the LFM Crafton Hills College team. Subsequently, Ben became an LFM coach and Co-facilitator in 2015 and in 2018 moved into the role of lead facilitator. Ben is also a member of the Steering Committee.

Currently, he is the Associate Dean of Strong Workforce Programs at San Diego Miramar College where he manages the Strong Workforce, Perkins, and career education grants programs... (Read More)

Fascinated with effective and transformational leadership, Ben has led several transformative efforts, including integrating instructional and student services career-related programs into a new single cross-functional team, developing sustainable efforts to promote equity-mindedness, revitalizing staff participation in college governance, designing campus processes in support of undocumented students, and collaborating on a professional development program for aspiring future faculty members.

Previously, Ben served in appointed and elected leadership roles for a labor organization, where he led outreach efforts for six years — communicating the organization’s message to its quarter-million members and the California electorate.

Outside of higher education, he has served on the San Bernardino City Workforce Investment Board delivering job training programs and successful job placements to thousands of unemployed residents.

Priya Chaplot, Co-facilitator

Priya Chaplot, Co-facilitator

Priya Chaplot, MBA, provides leadership on RP Group's internal and external communications (including Perspectives and Scoop e-newsletters, and the website). Ms. Chaplot also serves as a senior researcher for the ACE Adoption Guides and Student Support (Re)defined projects. Previously, she served as the Director of Professional Development and a Senior Researcher with the RP Group, ... (Read More)

where she created practitioner-focused professional development opportunities and engaged in statewide and national projects focused on community college reform, including the Gates Foundation's Completion by Design and Bridging Research, Information and Culture initiatives.

Prior to that, Priya served as the Education Research Assessment Analyst in the Office of Research and Institutional Effectiveness at Mt. San Antonio College. During that time, she also served as an instructor, teaching math and English in the college's Adult Diploma Program.

Having worked in various capacities within and outside educational institutions for over a dozen years, Priya is passionate about engaging and empowering practitioners to redesign efforts that promote student success and equity. She earned her MBA from California Polytechnic University, Pomona and her BA in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Erin Denney, Co-facilitator

Erin Denney, Co-facilitator

Erin Denney began her participation in Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2016 as a member of the City College of San Francisco team. Then, in 2017, she joined LFM as a coach and has recently moved into a Co-facilitator role and become a member of the LFM Steering Committee... (Read More)

Erin has served in a number of professional leadership roles at City College of San Francisco, including that of Basic Skills Coordinator for the English Department, during which time she built a core group of dedicated faculty and implemented innovative, grant-funded changes to the curriculum.

During her time as CCSF’s Professional Development Coordinator, she led several efforts including; researching and implementing best professional development practices, creating a Professional Development Committee, creating a Professional Development Plan, and implementing online flex reporting on her campus.

Currently, she is the Department Chair of the CCSF English Department, where she has led efforts to rebuild the department’s pre-collegiate English sequence, which included a full revamp of the English Placement Test and integration of multiple measures as part of that placement system.

Kelly Karandjeff, Co-facilitator

Kelly Karandjeff, Co-facilitator

For nearly 20 years, Kelley Karandjeff has been dedicated to making evidence useful for community college practitioners and promoting equity and achievement for all students. Kelley now provides strategic communications, project management, and qualitative research services on behalf of the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group)... (Read More)

Current areas of focus include (1) building college capacity to engage in guided pathways inquiry, design, and implementation; (2) supporting improvements in transfer policy and practice; and (3) bringing student perspectives into all aspects of college transformation and improvement.

In addition to working on many large scale projects for the RP Group, Kelley is collaborating with the Leading from the Middle (LFM) team on integrating a focus on the student experience into the LFM Academy curriculum. She will also join the LFM facilitator team in 2020.

Kelley holds a BA in Sociology from Kenyon College and an EdM from Harvard University and served as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.

Gio Sosa

Gio Sosa, Co-Facilitator

Gio Sosa is the Senior Research Analyst at Chaffey College, where he works on an array of projects relating to student success, access, and learning outcomes.

Currently, Gio is a member of IEPI’s Data Disaggregation Applied Solution Kit (ASK) team and has focused on examining the use of technology to enhance learning and well-being... (Read More)

His most recent work (manuscript in submission) includes an investigation into the impact of a video game intervention on the memory and cognitive abilities of adults over the age of 65.

Gio recently served as the Interim Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, and Planning at Crafton Hills College and as the Project Manager for the implementation of a data warehouse at San Bernardino Community College District.

In his spare time, he teaches psychology classes at Cal State Fullerton. Gio is a former, 2013 LFM participant.

Debra Polak, Co-director

Debra Polak, Co-director

After “graduating” from LFM’s first academy in 2013, Debra Polak continued her involvement with LFM, and currently serves as an LFM coach and facilitator.

Debra began her work in education 20 years ago as a part-time instructor at Diablo Valley College and UC Berkley, where she also earned her BA in English and her MA in Education. Shortly after becoming a full-time English faculty member at Mendocino College in the Spring of 2000, she was asked to coordinate the college’s ESL program. In this role, she was instrumental in growing the program and bringing on the college’s first full-time ESL instructor... (Read More)

Debra also served as the first Basic Skills coordinator at Mendocino College; was involved in organizing union affiliation for full-time faculty; served as Curriculum Committee Chair; and as Dean of Instruction and Dean of Centers, where she led the establishment of the new Center on the Mendocino Coast, previously under College of the Redwoods.

Around the same time that she assumed this role, Debra was appointed to Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs. In this position, Polak was a part of the Education Master Plan, the implementation of new Accreditation standards and Guided Pathways.

In August of 2018, the Mendocino-Lake Community College District announced it had appointed Debra Polak as the new Vice President of Academic Affairs. According to Mendocino College, she was selected “to provide the leadership and direction needed to strengthen the academic vision of the institution while continuing to support the district’s diverse student population.”

Ireri Valenzuela, Co-director

Ireri Valenzuela, Co-director

Ireri Valenzuela joined the RP Group as a Senior Researcher in 2014 bringing with her a breadth of experience in qualitative research, program design and implementation, and technical assistance provision. In 2017, Ireri assumed the role of Lead Coaching Coordinator for Leading from the Middle; subsequently moving into the position of Associate Director in 2018, and in 2020 accepted the role of Co-director... (Read More)

Prior to joining the RP Group, Ireri spent five years as part of MDRC’s Young Adults and Postsecondary Education Policy Area, where she worked on two national demonstration projects: the Learning Communities Demonstration and the Performance Based Scholarship Demonstration, which were designed to explore new ways to improve college access, persistence, and success for low-income and underprepared students. She also co-authored an early findings report on the Adelante Performance Based Award Program at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ and a Technical Assistance Guide to Performance Based Scholarships.

Formerly, Ireri worked at California Tomorrow where she developed, implemented, and directed the Campus Change Network (CCN). The CCN was a yearlong program focused on building the capacity of California Community College faculty, administrators, staff, and students to address equity gaps among underrepresented students by equipping them with skills and strategies to advance structural reform efforts through a focus on systems change.

While attaining her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Ireri taught English to Latino and South East Asian immigrants in the Central Valley. Inspired by her students’ resilience and witnessing the impact education has had on their lives, Ireri returned to school for a master’s degree in Adult Education from San Francisco State University. By applying a systemic lens and the principles of adult education to her work, Ireri has been able to focus her career on supporting social justice and structural reform efforts in higher education.

Rebecca Wong, Curriculum Lead

Rebecca Wong, Curriculum Lead

Rebecca Wong has been with Leading from the Middle since its inception in 2013. She is a Steering Committee member, facilitator, and lead curriculum developer for the program.

Rebecca started her career in education as a high school teacher at one of the largest high schools in California located in a very diverse and economically challenged community... (Read More)

She has served as a Chapter I Resource Specialist; has helped develop and evaluate programs designed to improve proficiency in Language Arts and mathematics; and has coordinated the University and College Opportunity Program, assisting underrepresented students in enrolling in 4-year institutions after high school graduation.

Rebecca has served as chair of the Mathematics Department and as the Division Chair of the Science/Math division at West Valley College and is currently the director of its Title III grant. As an active leader in her community, she also serves on the East Side Union High School District Education Foundation Board, supporting the needs of the ESUHSD community.

Adore Davidson, Director of Professional Development

Adore Davidson, Director of Professional Development

Adore Davidson oversees the operations and direction of the organization's slate of professional development activities in partnership with the RP Group Board's Professional Development Chair and event leadership. Ms. Davidson’s background includes more than ten years of experience working with nonprofits in program, organization, project, and event management... (Read More)

She brings a lifelong commitment to social justice and equity to her work, with a focus on strategy, efficiency, and sustainability. Prior to joining the RP Group team, Ms. Davidson managed operations and led the donor cultivation and stewardship program for a San Francisco-based nonprofit working for social, environmental, and economic change through the creation of strategic documentary films and distribution campaigns.

Ms. Davidson holds an MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations from the School for International Training and a BA in Cross-Cultural Women’s Studies from Hampshire College.

Robert Gabriner

Robert Gabriner

Robert Gabriner is one of the founders of Leading from the Middle; an RP Group program established in 2013. He currently serves as the program’s Director.

For the past 57 years, Robert focused his energy and career on social justice through the civil rights movement and within higher education reform... (Read More)

As an educator for 21 years, he taught at several community colleges and has served as executive secretary of the Peralta Federation of Teachers; the president of the Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers; as the Dean of Research, Planning, and Grants at City College of San Francisco; as Vice Chancellor of CCSF and the Director of the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at San Francisco State University from 2009 to 2016.

Since the 1990s Robert Gabriner has provided key leadership to the RP Group, including founding the RP Group’s Center for Student Success, a key source for statewide research on student success in California Community Colleges.

As one of the architects of the Community College Reform Act of 1988, he also served on statewide task forces that became the foundation for the 2004 Community College Accountability Act and the 2012 Student Success Act.

Rose Asera

Rose Asera

Rose Asera began her participation in Leading from the Middle as the Academy’s internal evaluator. She is currently a member of the LFM Steering Committee and a researcher and leader for the RP Group, where she has helped produce the Strengthening Student Success Conference. In this role, she worked with the the partner organizations, the conference’s steering committee, and RP Group staff to build the breadth and depth of the conference content... (Read More)

Rose Asera has also served as director of the Carnegie Foundation’s community college project, Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community College (SPECC), which was a powerful incubator for segments of present day community college work and has been responsible for nurturing a number of campus and statewide leaders.

Across her career, Rose has been a leader from the middle, side, and back. While she steps to the front when the need arises, she prefers to provide support from behind the curtain.

Phyllis Braxton

Phyllis Braxton

Phyllis Braxton is an Associate Professor of Counseling at Los Angeles Trade Technical College where she provides advising and counseling to students enrolled in the Health and Related Sciences Pathway. She recently received her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership at California Lutheran University. 

In her 20 years in the California Community College system, Phyllis has served in various leadership roles including: Matriculation Director at Los Angeles Southwest College and College of the Canyons... (Read More)

Associate Dean of the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and Dean of Counseling and Matriculation at Pierce College; and Chief Student Services Officer at West Los Angeles College and Los Angeles Harbor College.

Phyllis has been extensively involved in leading student success and equity efforts such as developing college success curriculum; creating first-year experience programs; developing assessment and placement models; and conducting program review and assessment of student learning outcomes for both academic affairs and student services.

Currently, she is involved with the California Community College Success Network (3CSN), the RP Group’s Strengthening Student Success Conference planning and program committees, and the Partnership Resource Team (PRT) of the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (IEPI). Phyllis began coaching for LFM in 2018. In 2019, she has joined the LFM facilitation team and the LFM evaluation team.

Misty Burruel

Misty Burruel

Misty Burruel is an Assistant Professor of Art in the Art Department at Chaffey College. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University with an emphasis in Painting in 2002 and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art with an emphasis in Painting from California State University, San Bernardino in 2000... (Read More)

She joined Chaffey's Art Department in 2002 as Part-Time Faculty in 2D Design, 3D Design and Mixed-Media. Prior to teaching at Chaffey College, she taught at the University of Redlands, California State University, San Bernardino, California State University, Fullerton, Crafton Hills College, and Riverside Community College. Misty's studio expertise includes a range of traditional and contemporary media, and her teaching experience includes a variety of genres including Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Installation, and Mixed-Media.

Misty Burruel is a broadly trained studio artist whose sculptures, installations and video works have been exhibited in many Southern California group exhibitions, including UCR California Museum of Photography, Newspace Gallery, Laguna Art Museum, Robert V. Fullerton Art Museum, Gallery 825, and an international show "From America" at the MoCA Minsk, in Belarus. Misty's work was represented by Newspace Gallery in Los Angeles where she featured two solo exhibitions in 2004 and 2006. Her work has been reviewed in ArtForum, ArtForum International, Art Papers, and the Los Angeles Times.

Erin Denney

Erin Denney

Erin Denney began her participation in Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2016 as a member of the City College of San Francisco team. Then, in 2017, she joined LFM as a coach and has recently moved into a Co-facilitator role and become a member of the LFM Steering Committee... (Read More)

Erin has served in a number of professional leadership roles at City College of San Francisco, including that of Basic Skills Coordinator for the English Department, during which time she built a core group of dedicated faculty and implemented innovative, grant-funded changes to the curriculum.

During her time as CCSF’s Professional Development Coordinator, she led several efforts including; researching and implementing best professional development practices, creating a Professional Development Committee, creating a Professional Development Plan, and implementing online flex reporting on her campus.

Currently, she is the Department Chair of the CCSF English Department, where she has led efforts to rebuild the department’s pre-collegiate English sequence, which included a full revamp of the English Placement Test and integration of multiple measures as part of that placement system.

Ben Gamboa

Ben Gamboa

Ben Gamboa began his participation in Leading from the Middle in 2014 as a member of the LFM Crafton Hills College team. Subsequently, Ben became an LFM coach and Co-facilitator in 2015 and in 2018 moved into the role of lead facilitator. Ben is also a member of the Steering Committee.

Currently, he is the Associate Dean of Strong Workforce Programs at San Diego Miramar College where he manages the Strong Workforce, Perkins, and career education grants programs... (Read More)

Fascinated with effective and transformational leadership, Ben has led several transformative efforts, including integrating instructional and student services career-related programs into a new single cross-functional team, developing sustainable efforts to promote equity-mindedness, revitalizing staff participation in college governance, designing campus processes in support of undocumented students, and collaborating on a professional development program for aspiring future faculty members.

Previously, Ben served in appointed and elected leadership roles for a labor organization, where he led outreach efforts for six years — communicating the organization’s message to its quarter-million members and the California electorate.

Outside of higher education, he has served on the San Bernardino City Workforce Investment Board delivering job training programs and successful job placements to thousands of unemployed residents.

Vandana Gavaskar

Vandana Gavaskar

Vandana Gavaskar began her participation in Leading from the Middle (LFM) in 2017 as a member of the Santa Barbara City College team. Then, in 2018, she joined LFM as a coach and has recently moved into a Co-facilitator role and become a member of the LFM Steering Committee... (Read More)

Currently, she is a Director for a Title V grant at Santa Barbara City College focused on creating pathways for part-time students.

Vandana brings more than twenty years of teaching experience to her work, beginning her career as English faculty at The Ohio State University.

She has also served as full-time faculty at three other post-secondary institutions.

During her career, she has developed and participated in programs for student success in partnership with campus, statewide and national initiatives focused on equity and cultural diversity. She continues to lead workshops for various professional organizations and has also helped to develop a Center for Academic Excellence for a consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Brandi Howard

Brandi Howard

Brandi began her participation in Leading from the Middle as a member of the Laney College team in 2017, joined LFM’s coaching team in 2018 and has recently taken on the position of co-coaching coordinator for the program. Brandi currently works as Legal Coordinator for the Peralta Community College District. Previously, she held the position of Staff Assistant to the President of Laney College and had a leadership role, as Advisor to Laney College's... (Read More)

Alpha Chi Theta, Phi Theta Kappa Chapter that Brandi maintains to the present.

In 2015, Brandi joined the Laney College Classified Senate and was elected senate President in 2016. Before working in education, Brandi held executive administrative roles in the corporate and non-profit sector.

Brandi enjoys working in education and found collaborating with LFM to be rewarding because it gives her “a new perspective on how the work of education can ideally be done”. She believes that success can be achieved by students and staff and will come as a result of demonstrated reciprocity by highlighting the importance of collaboration and professional development through consistent focused work and commitment to the overall mission of our education system.

Gio Sosa

Gio Sosa

Gio Sosa is the Senior Research Analyst at Chaffey College, where he works on an array of projects relating to student success, access, and learning outcomes.

Currently, Gio is a member of IEPI’s Data Disaggregation Applied Solution Kit (ASK) team and has focused on examining the use of technology to enhance learning and well-being... (Read More)

His most recent work (manuscript in submission) includes an investigation into the impact of a video game intervention on the memory and cognitive abilities of adults over the age of 65.

Gio recently served as the Interim Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, and Planning at Crafton Hills College and as the Project Manager for the implementation of a data warehouse at San Bernardino Community College District.

In his spare time, he teaches psychology classes at Cal State Fullerton. Gio is a former, 2013 LFM participant.