Past Wheelhouse Fellows

Past Wheelhouse Fellows


2019 Wheelhouse Fellows

Wheelhouse welcomed these community college leaders as members of the third cohort of the Institute on Leadership in 2019.

Awan Seher Awan, President, Los Angeles Southwest
Dr. Awan began her tenure at Los Angeles Southwest College in 2018, when she became the youngest California Community College President at age 32. In her more than 12 years of service to several community colleges she has worked with some of the most disadvantaged and underrepresented populations. Dr. Awan holds a doctorate in organizational leadership, a master’s in business administration, a master’s in public administration, and Bachelor of Science in business administration.


BaggEva Bagg, Superintendent/President, Barstow Community College
Dr. Bagg was appointed as the Superintendent/President of Barstow Community College in 2017. She brought with her over 30 years of experience working with several community colleges in California as an educator, researcher, and administrator. Superintendent/President Bagg holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Pomona College and became a Fulbright scholar while earning her doctorate in anthropology from UC San Diego.


BandyopadhyaySantanu Bandyopadhyay, President, Columbia College
Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay became the President of Columbia College in July 2018. He has over 21 years of experience in higher education including 13 years as a leader in community colleges where he was involved in national initiatives such as Achieving the Dream, Foundations of Excellence, and Survey of Entering Student Engagement. Dr. Bandyopadhyay has a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Ohio University, an MBA from Ohio University, and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Kolkata University.


BulgerStephanie R. Bulger, Vice Chancellor, Instructional Services, San Diego Community College District
Dr. Bulger is the Chief Instructional Officer of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), which serves more than 100,000 students. Since 2015, Dr. Bulger has facilitated the institution’s districtwide initiatives on curricular reform and open educational resources, strategic planning and accreditation, business/industry engagement and workforce development. She holds a doctorate in higher education administration, master’s in British and American literature, and bachelor’s in English.


BurkeKathleen F. Burke, Chancellor, South Orange County Community College District
Dr. Burke became Chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District in 2018. Previously, she served as Vice President of Academic Affairs in several community colleges. Dr. Burke earned a Doctorate of Education in institutional management from Pepperdine; a Master of Arts in art from CSU Northridge; a Bachelor of Arts in art history from the University of California, Irvine; a Bachelor of Arts in studio art from UC Irvine; and an Associate of Arts in humanities from Glendale Community College.


DeFrancoJeff DeFranco, Superintendent/President, Lake Tahoe Community College
President DeFranco became Lake Tahoe Community College’s fifth Superintendent/President in 2017. His leadership experience spans K-12, community college, and four-year institutions. He holds a master’s in educational leadership and a bachelor’s in psychology. and is pursuing a doctorate in global leadership and change.


EndrijonasErika Endrijonas, Superintendent/President, Pasadena City College
Dr. Endrijonas was appointed the Superintendent/President of Pasadena City College in January 2019. Previously, she served as the President of Los Angeles Valley College and the Accreditation Liaison Officer at Oxnard College. Dr. Endrijonas is currently the co-chair of the national LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education Board. She earned her doctorate and master’s in history from the USC and her bachelor’s in history from CSU Northridge.


GillespieGreg Gillespie, Chancellor, Ventura County Community College District
Dr. Gillespie was appointed Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District in 2017. Previously, he has served in faculty, director, dean, vice president, and president positions at four different community colleges in Arizona, California and Washington, including as President of Ventura College.  He holds a master’s and doctorate in agronomy from North Dakota State University and a bachelor’s in agronomy from Washington State University.


GribbonsBarry Gribbons, Deputy Chancellor, College of the Canyons
Gribbons is Deputy Chancellor for the Santa Clarita Community College District and of College of the Canyons, where he has served for 19 years in capacities including Assistant Superintendent, Vice President of Institutional Development, Technology and Online Services.  Dr. Gribbons has a doctorate in educational psycology, master’s in educational psychology and instructional technology, and a bachelor’s in psychology.


HallMarlon Hall, Superintendent/President, Lassen Community College District
Dr. Hall is in his sixth year as Superintendent/President of Lassen Community College. Dr. Hall began his career as a teacher in K-12 schools and colleges. He has also served as a Vice President of Student Services and recently served as the convener of the President’s Round Table. He holds six degrees including a Doctorate of Education in educational leadership and change and a master’s in education, reading, and ESL.


KarasTimothy Karas, President, College of Alameda/Peralta Community College District
Dr. Karas was appointed the College of Alameda’s President in 2017 after having served as vice president for three years. Dr. Karas has previously held leadership positions in other two- and four-year colleges, has a prior background in library sciences and served as the Executive Board President of the Council of Chief Librarians.  He holds a Doctorate of Education in higher education and administration, a master’s of library and information science, and a bachelor’s in geography.


KraftRonald Kraft, Superintendent/President, Napa Valley College
Dr. Kraft became the ninth Superintendent/President of Napa Valley College in 2012. He has more than 25 years of experience working in California community colleges and universities in positions related to research, workforce development and instruction. Dr. Kraft is an author and speaks to corporations, universities and colleges about organizational change and innovation strategies. He holds a doctorate in leadership, a master’s in education, and a bachelor’s in business.


Li BuggW. Cherry Li-Bugg, Vice Chancellor for Educational Services and Technology, North Orange County Community College District
Dr. Li-Bugg is Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Technology for the North Orange County Community College District.  Previously, Dr. Bugg served as the Dean of Learning Resources and Educational Technology for Santa Rosa Junior College, Director of Academic Computing for Santa Monica College, and Dean of Information Technology and Services for Los Medanos College. She holds a doctorate in education and human resource studies and master’s in library and information science.


MayoSandra Mayo, Former Vice Chancellor, Education and Planning, Yuba Community College District
Dr. Mayo began her tenure in 2017 as the Vice Chancellor of Education and Planning for the Yuba Community College District. She is an experienced educator, administrator, and leader for California community colleges and the K-12 schools, having previously served as a Dean, Vice President, Director and teacher. She currently serves as a Board Chair for the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council. Dr. Mayo earned a doctorate in education, master’s in applied mathematics, and bachelor’s in mathematics.


McGrathTim McGrath, President, Golden West College
President McGrath brings 20 years record of experience in California Community College administration to his new role as President of Golden West College. Previously, he served as Vice President of Instruction at San Diego Mesa College where he oversaw six schools and all college instructional programs. Dr. McGrath holds a juris doctorate, a master’s in administration, and a bachelor’s in law.


StearnsJill Stearns, Superintendent/President, Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo County Community College District
Dr. Stearns was appointed the seventh Superintendent/ President of Cuesta College in 2018. Previously, she served in multiple administrative positions, including President of Modesto Junior College. Under her leadership, Modesto JC regained its full accreditation, launched a baccalaureate degree program, and was selected to apply for the Aspen Prize. Dr. Stearns holds a doctorate in education/community college leadership and a master’s in instructional technology.


YamamuraWhitney Yamamura, President, Folsom Lake College
Whitney Yamamura was appointed President of Folsom Lake College in 2017. In his 28 years in the Los Rios Community College District he has served as an intern, part-time faculty, full-time tenured faculty, dean, vice president and interim president. President Yamamura has a master’s in economics, a bachelor’s in business administration, and is working to complete his doctorate in educational leadership.

Wheelhouse is grateful to the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (California Community College Chancellor’s Office), the James Irvine Foundation, and the College Futures Foundation for supporting the participation of these distinguished Fellows in the 2019 Institute on Leadership.

2018 Wheelhouse Fellows

Frank Chong, Superintendent/President, Santa Rosa Junior College

Dr. Frank Chong has been Superintendent/President of Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) since January, 2012. Prior to joining Santa Rosa Junior College, Dr. Chong served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges at the United States Department of Education in Washington, D.C. helping to shape President Barack Obama’s community college agenda. From 2006 to 2009, he was President of Laney College in Oakland, and served as President of Mission College in Santa Clara from 2003 to 2006. Dr. Chong was Dean of Student Affairs at San Francisco City College from 1993 to 2003. He served as Special Assistant to Willie Brown, Speaker of the California Assembly, from 1987 to 1991. Chong has a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Berkeley in social welfare and Asian American Studies, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University. He also completed the Educational Management program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and earned his doctorate (Ed.D) in educational administration leadership and technology from Dowling College in Oakdale, New York. 

Keith Curry, President/CEO, Compton College

Dr. Keith Curry is the President/CEO of the Compton College and Compton Community College District. 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), and the President’s Roundtable. Dr. Curry has presented at numerous conferences, workshops, and symposia. His areas of expertise include preparing students for higher education; bridging the digital divide; establishing partnerships among postsecondary institutions, and ensuring access for all students. He is an adjunct faculty member at California State University Fullerton College of Education. Keith Curry earned his Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of California at Irvine.

Tammeil Gilkerson, President, Laney College

Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson is currently the president of Laney College in Oakland, California. Prior to her current role, she served as vice president of academic and student affairs at Contra Costa College and as the first Diversity, Inclusion and Innovation Officer for the Contra Costa Community College District. Tammeil has also served as the vice president of academic affairs at San José City College and Dean of Counseling and Matriculation at Evergreen Valley College.  Tammeil began her community college career as a faculty member in psychology-counseling at Chabot College, serving as the coordinator for the TRIO Student Support Services program. In addition to her work in community colleges, she served as the Academy and Education Policy Director at The Greenlining Institute and in positions at UC Berkeley in the Office of Student Life and the Early Academic Outreach Program. Dr. Gilkerson holds a bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy and pupil personnel services, and a doctorate in educational leadership. 

Michael Gutierrez, President, Sacramento City College

Michael Gutierrez has served in a variety of roles in the Texas system of higher education since 1992. Michael currently serves as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success at Eastfield College in the Dallas Community College District. His responsibilities have included working as a Program Coordinator for the Texas Council on Vocational Education, a Research Specialist for the Texas Council on Workforce and Economic Competitiveness, a Grants Manager for the Dallas Community College District, Director of the South Irving Center, Assistant to the President for College and Resource Development at Palo Alto College in the San Antonio Community College District, Dean of Education Center at Mountain View College, faculty member in Government at Richland College, and Executive Dean at Mountain View College. Michael earned a Bachelor’s degree in History and Latin American Studies from Princeton University, a Master’s in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin, and is completing a Doctorate from Cumberland University in Higher Education.

John Hernandez, President, Santiago Canyon College 

Dr. John C. Hernandez started his appointment as the fifth president of Santiago Canyon College in July 2017. Prior to the appointment, he served for one year as interim president of SCC. Dr. Hernandez started his tenure at SCC in 2005 as the vice president for student services, where he was an advocate for increasing opportunities for students and partnering with others to provide a seamless delivery of support services. Prior to his tenure at Santiago Canyon College, John served in the following administrative roles: Associate Vice President & Dean of Students at Cal Poly Pomona; Associate Dean for Student Development at Santa Ana College; and Assistant Dean for Students Affairs at California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Hernandez holds an associate degree in arts from Fullerton College; a B.A. in sociology from Cal State Fullerton; an M.S. in counseling with an emphasis in student development in higher education from Cal State Long Beach; and a Ph.D. in college student personnel administration from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Kindred Murillo, Superintendent/President, Southwestern College

Dr. Kindred Murillo serves as the Superintendent/President of Southwestern College, where she is leading a systemic culture change focused on student completion, inclusion, and race relations. Serving for five years as the Superintendent/President of Lake Tahoe Community College, Kindred worked with the campus and the local community to financially stabilize the college. Before Tahoe, she served as the Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services for Contra Costa Community College District. Kindred also served as the Vice President of Administrative Services at Pasadena Area Community College District. She was promoted to Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services when Copper Mountain Community College became a separate district and underwent its first accreditation. Kindred was hired as an adjunct faculty at Desert Community College District in 1996, served as a full-time faculty member, and moved into college administration in 2000. Kindred is a product of the community college system, graduating from Barstow College with a liberal arts degree. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Redlands University and earned a Master of Science in Organization Development and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership at Pepperdine University. 

Daniel Peck, President, Mission College

Daniel Peck started his position as president of Mission College in 2014. His professional career started in the nonprofit and educational sectors, including United Way. In 2005, Daniel’s career took him to Mission College, in Santa Clara, California to begin his responsibilities as the research analyst. Daniel remained with Mission College until 2009, when he accepted an administrative position overseeing Institutional Research at Foothill College. Daniel was at Foothill for a brief period, returning to Mission to head the newly created Office of Research, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness. In 2012, Daniel assumed the interim position of Vice President of Instruction, where he oversaw preparations for the 2014 accreditation site visit, the hiring of nearly a dozen new full-time faculty, and the ongoing development of curriculum and degrees. Later, Daniel moved into his current position of Mission College President with the goal of providing stability while continuing forward momentum. Daniel pursued his education at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where he graduated with a double major Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and English. Daniel remained at Indiana to begin his career in education, serving as an instructor for Sociology and Statistics, and working many years in the Center for Survey Research while taking an MA in Sociology along the way.

Diana Rodriquez, President, San Bernardino College

Diana Z. Rodriguez is the 14th president of San Bernardino Valley College. She is a native of Southern California and has over 25 years of higher education experience, with 11 years in senior leadership positions. Diana served as Vice President of Student Services and Vice President of Academic Services throughout her professional journey. She has spent much of her career as a tenured faculty member and counselor. She has led major grant funding initiatives and the implementation of campus-wide student diversity initiatives, which has generated much positive attention for the colleges and districts of which she has been a part. She earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Palo Verde College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and a Master’s Degree in Education from CSU, San Bernardino.

Luis Sanchez, President, Moorpark College

Luis Pablo Sanchez, JD, became president of Moorpark College on February 23, 2015. Prior to that, he was the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California from 2011 to 2015. From 1991 to 2006, he was a full-time professor of law and taxation at Sierra College, in Rocklin, California, where he was twice recognized as Outstanding Instructor by the student body, and then was dean of Business, Technology, and Public Safety from 2006 to 2011. Before that, Mr. Sanchez maintained a private commercial law practice and taught law part-time at California State University, Sacramento. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Ventura County United Way, as well as the Board of Managers for the Conejo Valley YMCA. Luis received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University, Sacramento in 1976, his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of the Pacific (McGeorge School of Law) in 1983, and his Master’s degree in Business and Tax law from McGeorge Law School in 1990.

JoAnna Schilling, President, Cypress College

Dr. JoAnna Schilling, is delighted to serves as the President of Cypress College. She previously held administrative roles at Cerritos College as Vice President of Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent, and at Rio Hondo College as Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Dean of Arts and Cultural Programs, Continuing and Contract Education. Schilling served as the co-chair on the statewide CCCCO Curriculum Inventory project (COCI) and was elected to the California Chief Instructional Officers (CIO) Executive Board representing the Orange County/Los Angeles County region from 2013-2017. Prior to her experience in higher education, she was a literary associate and educator for the professional conservatory at South Coast Repertory Theatre. She is a published author. Dr. Schilling has a doctorate in education from Oregon State University, an MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University, and a BA in English from Smith College.

Stephen Schoonmaker, Superintendent/President, College of the Siskiyous

Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker was selected as the 12th Superintendent/President of College of the Siskiyous in 2017. He spent his early career serving public four-year universities and colleges in progressively responsible positions in Student Services. In 1992, he moved from higher education to serve for six years as the Human Rights and Social Services Analyst for the city of Salem, Oregon. His returned to higher education in 1998, starting his community college career in New Mexico; he quickly moved from Student Services to Academic Affairs at the largest community college in Oregon and rose to the level of Vice President in Oregon. In 2011 Dr. Schoonmaker was selected to serve as President of College of the Ouachitas. In 2016, he formed Cross County Leadership Solutions LLC as a consulting firm specializing in leadership coaching, strategic planning, systems thinking, and change management. Stephen Schoonmaker earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at the University of Vermont, his Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Services from Western Illinois University, and completed his Doctoral degree in Educational Administration with an emphasis in Community College Leadership in 2004 from New Mexico State University.

Keith Snow-Flamer, Superintendent/President, College of the Redwoods

Dr. Keith Snow-Flamer was named President/Superintendent of College of the Redwoods effective April 11, 2017. Over the course of his higher education career he has served in positions as Vice President, Executive Dean, Dean, and Director. He has gained experience working at Colleges and Universities, including College of the Redwoods, McHenry County College and Eastern Washington University. His breadth of experience has provided him with expertise in enrollment management, instruction, student development and support services areas. As an educational leader, he believes that it is critical to embrace diversity and remain sensitive to the needs of all students. He supports the success of those who may be differently abled or who experience social, cultural and economic orientations and backgrounds different from those experienced by faculty and staff with whom these students interact. He firmly believes that diversity is strength—and that multiculturalism is something to be celebrated, promoted, and cherished. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Washington University, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Eastern Washington, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

Robin Steinback, President, Moreno Valley College

Dr. Robin Steinback is the fourth president of Moreno Valley College. Her professional career includes Vice Chancellor of Educational Services in Riverside Community College District, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Moreno Valley College, Cuyamaca College and Solano Community College, dean of instruction and tenured faculty at her alma mater, Mt. San Jacinto College.  Dr. Steinback has a reputation for creating cross-institutional, collaborative, and innovative teams that seek to transform their institutions, communities and regional ecosystems. She is ever mindful that what we do individually and collectively through our educational programs and support services matter in the lives of our students, employees, and the communities we serve. She is a product of the community college system, having graduated from Mt. San Jacinto College. She attended UC Riverside, earning an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in Sociology. She received her Ph.D. from UCR in Sociology.

Brenda Thames, President, West Hills College

Brenda Thames began her position at West Hills College Coalinga in February, 2017. Prior to her current position, she served in a broad spectrum of positions at Modesto Junior College, American River College and at the Los Rios Community College District Office. Thames was a 2016-2017 Fellow with the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence. In 2014, she completed the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management. Thames earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Sociology and Social Welfare from University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California, and a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from USC. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Education with a concentration in Community College Leadership at Oregon State University.

Chris Vitelli, Superintendent/President, Merced College

Chris Vitelli is currently the Superintendent/President at Merced College. He has more than 12 years experience in management and administration, including senior administration-level experience serving in various capacities, including Chief Student Services Officer (CSSO), Chief Instructional Officer (CIO), and Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO). Vitelli has also served as Dean of Instruction and interim Vice President of Student Services at Columbia College in Sonora, California.  Other professional experiences include Director of Student Services for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida and Director of Business, Industry, and Community Services at Merced College. Vitelli has led efforts to make “students first” while at Merced College. As a first-generation college graduate, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida, a Master of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University, and he is currently working toward a doctorate degree at Arizona State University.

Matthew Wetstein, Superintendent/President, Cabrillo College

Dr. Matt Wetstein was recently selected to serve as Superintendent/President of Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA.  Prior to his appointment at Cabrillo, he served as the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Instruction and Planning at San Joaquin Delta College (Delta College) in Stockton, CA, from 2012-2017.  His earlier administrative service included service as an instructional division Dean and as Dean of Planning, Research and Institutional Effectiveness at Delta College. He started his academic career as a political science professor. He has been a statewide leader in the planning and research field, having served on the Board and as President of the Research and Planning Group of California Community Colleges.  Dr. Wetstein was a member of the pioneering class of Aspen Institute Presidential Fellows for Community College Excellence, a group of 40 community college leaders selected for training in leadership and transformational change at U.S. community colleges. He is the author or co-author of a number of articles and books. Dr. Wetstein earned a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of St. Francis (Joliet, IL) and a Master’s and Doctoral degree in political science from Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL).

Michael White, President, Woodland Community College

Michael White is president of Woodland Community College. Previously, Dr. White served four years as Reedley College’s vice president of student services. He also served Reedley as interim president in 2012 and  2013, and as a faculty member, department chair, and coach from 1990 to 2009. Across his over 30-year career, Michael has instructional experience at the high school, community college, and university levels and has developed expertise in Hispanic Serving Institutions. He is a graduate of the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Institute.  Dr. White received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from California State University, Fresno, and earned a Master of Science degree in Physical Education with distinction from the University of New Mexico.  He earned a Ryan secondary teaching credential and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Davis.

Henry Yong, Chancellor, Yosemite Community College District

Henry Yong is Chancellor at Yosemite Community College District. Mr. Yong has served over 30 years in academia, ranging from high school vocational training, adult education, to community colleges. Prior to this, he served as the President of Evergreen Valley College in San Jose for six years. Before that, he served as the Vice President of Instruction at Taft College for six years. He also served as the Dean of Academic Programs at Victor Valley for five years, and three years as the Associate Dean of Occupational Education at West Hills College. Prior to the community college, Mr. Yong served as an administrator for the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) for seven years. Mr. Yong received M.A. and Ed.S. Degrees in Educational Administration and Leadership from Loma Linda University. He is working on his Ed.D. at La Sierra University with a focus on barriers to academic success for first semester economically disadvantaged students.

Wheelhouse is grateful to the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (California Community College Chancellor’s Office), the James Irvine Foundation, the College Futures Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund for supporting the participation of these distinguished Fellows in the 2018 Institute on Leadership.

2017 Wheelhouse Fellows

Wheelhouse welcomed these community college leaders as members of the Institute on Leadership’s inaugural cohort in 2017.

Juliana Barnes, President, Cuyamaca College

Juliana Barnes began her tenure as Cuyamaca College President in October 2015. She brings more than 25 years of experience in higher education to this position, including over 15 years in community college leadership and close to ten years at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She holds a doctorate in educational leadership with a community college specialization and a master’s degree in education/ multicultural counseling, both from San Diego State University, plus a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UCSD.

Lori Bennett, President, Clovis Community College

Dr. Lori A. Bennett was appointed to serve as the second president of Clovis Community College in July 2016. As President of Clovis Community College, Dr. Bennett is responsible for leadership, budget oversight, and supervision of the newest California community college, serving almost 10,000 students annually. She is leading the college in developing an educational master plan and strategic plan, expanding the Career Technical Education program, and overseeing the $70 million new facilities project.

Joi Lin Blake, Superintendent/President, Palomar College

Dr. Joi Lin Blake has over 30 years of progressive administrative and leadership experience in Instructional and Student Services programs. She formerly served as President of College of Alameda in the Peralta Community College District. Her administrative and leadership positions have also included, Vice President of Student Services at Skyline College, Dean of Student Development and Matriculation at San Diego Mesa College, and Policy Assistant for the U.S. Department of Education, in the Offices of the Under Secretary, and Vocational and Adult Education. 

Edward Bush, President, Cosumnes River College

Dr. Edward Bush is an innovative leader with over 21 years of experience in higher education with 18 of those years in the California Community College system. Dr. Bush has a history of developing programs and services that foster both student access and success as well as creating successful targeted programs for historically underserved population. His professional career includes Vice-President of Student Services, Dean of Student Services, tenured associate faculty member in student activities, and an adjunct professor for several graduate programs.  

Celia Esposito-Noy, Superintendent/President, Solano Community College

Dr. Celia Esposito-Noy began her higher education career as classified staff at Chabot College, supervising tutoring services. Following graduate school, she served as a dean at a liberal arts college before returning to work in the community college system as adjunct faculty, director, associate vice president, vice president, interim president and most recently as Vice Chancellor, Educational Services at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District.  Much of her professional work has focused on developing strategies and interventions for successfully serving students enrolled in basic skills classes, students suffering from trauma, and those with mental health challenges. 

Jose Fierro, Superintendent/President, Cerritos College

Dr. Jose Fierro was appointed the President/Superintendent of the Cerritos Community College District effective July 6, 2015. Previously, he served as the Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Laramie County Community College. Laramie County Community College is a multi-campus institution and the largest community college in the state of Wyoming. Prior to joining Laramie County Community College, Dr. Fierro served as an Academic Dean, Associate Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and professor of biological sciences at Florida State College.

G.H. Javaheripour, President, Yuba Community College

Dr. G.H. Javaheripour was appointed president of Yuba College in February 2015. The College provides education and training for approximate 9,500 students and a service area that covers three counties. Dr. Javaheripour has guided reaffirmation of the College’s Radiologic Technology, POST, and Fire Technologies programs. He has stabilized the College by recruiting permanent faculty, staff and administrators, developing a barrier-free relationship based on shared and transparent shared-governance principles, and encouraging an environment where risk taking and innovation are encouraged.

Kathryn Jeffery, Superintendent/President, Santa Monica College

Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery came to Santa Monica College after serving nearly eight years as president of Sacramento City College (SCC). Prior to serving as president of SCC, Dr. Jeffery was President of Hennepin Technical College; Provost/Chief Campus Administrator at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas; Vice President of Columbia College in the Yosemite Community College District; Dean for Faculty and Staff Diversity/Development and Dean for Student Services at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Dena Maloney, Superintendent/President, El Camino College

Dr. Dena Maloney is the 6th Superintendent/President and first woman chief executive officer of the El Camino Community College District, which serves 25,000 students at its campus in Torrance, CA and another 12,000 students at the El Camino College Compton Education Center. In 2007, she was named founding dean of the Canyon Country Campus, a new educational center within the Santa Clarita Community College District. Maloney later became assistant superintendent/vice president, with responsibilities for the Canyon Country Campus and economic development. In May 2012, she became the superintendent/president of the West Kern Community College District and Taft College.

Cheryl Marshall, Chancellor, North Orange CCD

Dr. Cheryl Marshall is the Chancellor of North Orange County Community College. She has long been an advocate for student success and collaborative decision-making. She has more than 20 years experience in higher education, with roles ranging from President, to Vice President of Instruction, to Director for the Center of Excellence, to teaching and facilitating a variety of business courses and seminars. She has dedicated much of her professional time to partnering with fellow educators, community members, and business colleagues to strengthen the alignment of pathways from school to career.

Mojdeh Mehdizadeh, President, Contra Costa College

Mojdeh Mehdizadeh began her tenure as President of Contra Costa College in July of 2016, having formerly served as Interim President since January, 2015. She has overseen the development of the college’s five-year strategic plan, ensured the completion and grand opening of the largest facilities bond-funded project in the history of the District, and streamlined planning efforts. She formerly served as Executive Vice Chancellor of Education and Technology at the Contra Costa Community College District and began her career at Diablo Valley College in the area of student services and later institutional research.

Thuy Nguyen, President, Foothill College

Thuy Thi Nguyen, J.D., serves as the seventh President of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California. She is believed to be the first Vietnamese American college president in the country. Prior to her arrival at Foothill, she served as interim general counsel for the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office. As overseer of equal employment opportunity plans for 72 community college districts and 113 colleges, she led the move to an innovative funding approach that encourages community colleges to assess and strengthen their efforts in equal employment opportunity.

Omid Pourzanjani, Vice President of Instruction, Golden West College

Dr. Omid Pourzanjani’s passion in life (besides his family) is to help improve people’s lives through education. He spent the first 25 years of his higher education career working one-on-one with students in the classroom,  and the past 10 years working to improve educational systems, policies, and processes. He spent one of those 10 years at the Chancellor’s Office helping to build the Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy framework. For the past four years, he has led academic affairs and student services functions at Golden West College.

Kathleen Rose, Superintendent/President, Gavilan College

Dr. Kathleen Rose has served the California Community College system since 2002. For seven years prior to her appointment as President of Gavilan College, she was its Executive Vice President and Chief Instruction Officer. Prior to coming to Gavilan, she was the Vice President of Instruction and Dean of Fine Arts, Language Arts and Social Science at Hartnell College in Salinas. Perviously, she served Associate Dean and Campus Director at Chapman University, where she administered undergraduate and graduate programs in Arizona and California at military and community locations.

Linda Rose, President, Santa Ana College

Dr. Linda Rose is president of Santa Ana College, where her responsibilities include planning, organizing and implementing educational policy and procedures to develop curriculum and student support services; budget management; enhancing partnerships with business, governmental and community organizations, as well as with K-12 and higher education institutions in the area; and leading the institution’s fund development efforts. Dr. Rose also served as president of Los Angeles Southwest College from 2014 to 2016.

Rowena Tomaneng, President, Berkeley City College

Dr. Rowena Tomaneng’s leadership, teaching, service, and research are guided by social justice frameworks. She has been a multicultural educator for more than 20 years, creating bridges between community colleges and community based organizations such as Silicon Valley De-bug, Public Allies, and the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute. She previously served as the Associate Vice President of Instruction at De Anza College, overseeing student-centered offices and programs, including the Office of Equity, Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action, and Pathways programs such as Puente, Umoja, and IMPACT AAPI.

Rajen Vurdien, Superintendent/President, Pasadena City College

Dr. Rajen Vurdien is the fifteenth Superintendent/President of Pasadena City College. He formerly served as President of Fullerton College, and Vice President for Instruction of Saddleback College. In the 1980s, he worked for the United Nations Development Program. He was positioned in China where he taught English and ran the UN language programs. He has also served as Director of Graduate Programs in Education, Professor of Reading at Gwynedd Mercy College; Associate Professor and Chair of Reading at Long Island University; Instructor of Reading and Dean of Language Arts and Physical Education at Long Beach City College. 

Denise Whisenhunt, Interim President, San Diego City College

Denise Whisenhunt, J.D., currently serves as the Interim President at San Diego City College. Previously, she was the Vice President of Student Services at City College. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America.


Samia Yaqub, Superintendent/President, Butte-Glenn CCD

Dr. Samia Yaqub is the seventh president of Butte College. Previously, she served as the college’s interim Superintendent/President. Her goals include reducing the achievement gap between minority and non- minority students, while increasing recruitment and improving retention. Previously, she served Butte College as Vice President for Student Learning and Economic Development and Dean of Language Arts and Humanities and Dean of Instruction, Transfer and General Education.

Wei Zhou, President, Crafton Hills College

A passionate community college educator, a creative entrepreneur and an innovative leader, Dr. Wei Zhou is the eighth President of Crafton Hills College, serving 18 cities and areas in Southern California. He is dedicated to student learning and success, equity and diversity, and staff and organizational development. Prior to joining Crafton Hills, he served as Vice President of Instruction and Interim President at Cuyamaca College, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Copper Mountain College, Dean of Math, Science and Engineering at Evergreen Valley College, and in numerous teaching, research and administrative roles.

Wheelhouse is grateful to the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (California Community College Chancellor’s Office), the James Irvine Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund for supporting the participation of these distinguished Fellows in the 2017 Institute on Leadership.

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