Wheelhouse Leadership

Susanna Cooper, Managing Director
Before joining Wheelhouse, Ms. Cooper served as an independent consultant and as longtime advisor on pre-K-to-14 education issues for the leader of the California State Senate. In that role, she shaped and shepherded the Pro Tem’s education agenda, provided counsel on state education budget matters, and led multi-year campaigns to increase quality pre-kindergarten opportunities for low-income children, reduce the number of high school dropouts, and strengthen high school-post-secondary pathways. She is Special Advisor to the Stuart Foundation, President of the Board of Directors of the nonprofit EdSource, and brings deep experience in project management, policy advocacy, communications, government relations and philanthropy.
Michal Kurlaender, Lead Researcher, Professor
Dr. Kurlaender is Department Chair and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the UC Davis School of Education. She investigates students’ educational pathways, in particular K-12 and postsecondary alignment, and access to and success in postsecondary schooling. She has expertise in alternative pathways to college and college readiness at both community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. In addition to working with national data, Kurlaender works closely with administrative data from all three of California’s public higher education sectors systems. Kurlaender also studies the impact of racial and ethnic diversity on student outcomes. She recently served as a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.
Deborah Travis, Director, Wheelhouse Institutes
Retired from her post as CEO/President of Cosumnes River College, Dr. Travis brings 30 years of postsecondary experience including senior leadership positions in California community colleges as chief academic officer, dean of instructional programs and director of economic development. Dr. Travis earned her doctorate from the UC Davis School of Education’s CANDEL program and attended the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at Harvard University. She has designed and taught coursework in strategic planning, talent acquisition and human resource management, and organizational communication for the UC Davis and CSUS doctoral programs in educational leadership. Her long-standing research interests include adult learning theory, leadership development and community building with diverse groups.

Advisory Board

Manuel Baca, Trustee, Mt. San Antonio College
Dr. Baca was first elected to the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees in 1999 and has served multiple terms as its president. He teaches political science at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, where he has also served as dean and interim president. From 2012 to 2014, Dr. Baca served as president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.  He holds a PhD in Education from USC.

Thomas Bailey, President, Teachers College, Columbia University
Dr. Bailey is the president of Teachers College, Columbia University, and the George and Abby O’Neill Professor of Economics and Education at TC. He also serves as director of the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness. By appointment of the U.S. Secretary of Education, he chairs the Committee on Measures of Student Success. Previously, he was the founding director of the Community College Research Center and is currently a senior fellow with the center. He holds a PhD in Economics from MIT.

Helen Benjamin, Interim President, Santa Barbara Community College and Chancellor (Ret.), Contra Costa Community College District
Dr. Benjamin served many years as chancellor of the Contra Costa District. Throughout her career she has held numerous community college CEO and senior leadership positions. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas Woman’s University. She is former chair of the Community College League board of directors, a member of the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs, and served on President Obama’s Commission on the Future.

Thomas Brock, Director and Research Professor, Community College Research Center, Columbia University
Dr. Brock directs the Community College Research Center. He has more than 25 years of experience in education and social welfare research and is a research professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is the former commissioner of the National Center for Education Research (NCER) at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). He holds a PhD in Social Welfare from UCLA.

Edward Bush, President, Cosumnes River College and Wheelhouse Institute Alumnus
Dr. Bush is President of Cosumnes River College  and is known for his leadership and research on issues relating to student success, equity and diversity. Most of his 21-year career  has centered on the California Community Colleges. He is a published author and holds a Ph.D. in Urban Educational Leadership from the Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Bush is an alumni fellow of the Wheelhouse Institute on Leadership.

Larry Galizio, President and CEO, Community College League of California
Before joining the League, Dr. Galizio served as president of Clatsop Community College (Oregon) and as director of strategic planning for the Chancellor’s Office of the Oregon University System. He served in the Oregon Legislature, where he chaired the Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee. From 1993 to 2009, he was a full-time faculty member of Portland Community College. He is co-author of Elements of Parliamentary Debate: A Guide to Public Argument, and holds a PhD from Portland State University’s School of Urban and Public Affairs.

Brice W. Harris, Chancellor Emeritus, California Community Colleges
Dr. Harris served as Chancellor of the California system from 2012 to 2016. Previously, he served 16 years as chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, president of Fresno City College and as faculty  and vice chancellor in the Kansas City, Missouri community college system. He serves on the board of the American Council on Education (ACE) and is a former member of the Board of the American Association of Community Colleges and the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges.

Douglas B. Houston, Chancellor, Yuba Community College District
Dr. Houston is the Chancellor of the Yuba Community College District and the former Superintendent/President of Lassen College. He previously held administrative positions at Butte College and Barstow College. He also served as the commander of various military units and has taught at the community college and university levels, including as a Physics Professor at West Point. He serves on tthe Advisory Committees for the UC Davis CANDEL and CSU Sacramento doctoral programs.

Harold G. Levine, Dean (Ret.), UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Levine is the retired founding Dean of the UC Davis School of Education, where he also served as professor. Trained as an anthropologist, he began his career as a professor in the UCLA Department of Education, later becoming department chair and interim dean. As Dean, he oversaw substantial growth in personnel and programs. He was instrumental in the founding of Wheelhouse at UC Davis in 2016.

Lauren Lindstrom, Dean, UC Davis School of Education
Dean Lindstrom brings more than 25 years as an academic and administrator at the University of Oregon’s College of Education, most recently as Associate Dean. She is an active researcher whose areas of interest include autism, developmental disabilities, special education, career and college readiness for youth with disabilities, and access to quality education for families in poverty. She has been recognized internationally for her work promoting employment and access for individuals with disabilities.

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