Joe Radding (EdD ‘10) hasn’t always worked in the field of education, but once he made the switch, he knew it was the right choice. “About halfway through my 35-year career in state government, I moved to the California Department of Education (CDE) from a non-education entity,” he said. “I had always had an interest in education, and this was a pivotal move for me because I found a home. I never wanted to leave the field of education. I believe that education is the most powerful game changer when it comes to breaking cycles of poverty and advancing our society. It has the potential to transform lives and to help communities live better together.”
During his career at the CDE, Radding led the implementation of and managed statewide college and career readiness programs designed to help students gain wider access to post-secondary education. He decided to earn his doctorate in educational leadership in order to further pursue the transformational change that he was already observing in his daily assignments. One program that has been especially significant in his career is Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID), a program working to close achievement gaps in California’s middle schools and high schools. “I saw that AVID had done a tremendous amount of good for disadvantaged students, but it was being underutilized and hadn’t reached its full potential,” he said. “I wanted to change that, so I brought that concern with me to CANDEL, to learn more about what I could do to have an impact on the future of AVID and pursue statewide expansion of the program.”
Radding explored a variety of ideas for his dissertation, but his interest in helping students achieve post-secondary success led him to research that initial question he first brought with him to UC Davis. “My dissertation, which was a historical case study of AVID in California over 30 years, was ultimately about my passion,” said Radding, “and that was developing the AVID program to reach more students in our state. I knew that there wasn’t going to be an easy solution and that I needed to have a greater understanding of how education reforms are born, grow and develop—that’s why I chose CANDEL in the first place. From a research standpoint, the CANDEL program is superior because of three things: the faculty, the resources and the cohort experience. Earning my EdD has made me much more knowledgeable about the education issues I’m passionate about and given me the tools to have an impact in those areas.”
Radding’s experience in the CANDEL program ultimately helped him create positive change during his time at the CDE and he still references his dissertation research today in his advocacy work as an educational and leadership consultant. “My doctorate in educational leadership has opened up more doors of communication and access, and helped me further develop my ability to think through problems and plan ways to address those problems,” said Radding. “I already had some of those skills to some extent before completing the CANDEL program, but now those skills are much deeper and grounded in a lot of educational theory and history.” Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Radding currently spends his time providing consulting for AVID for Higher Education as well as other K-16 college and career education programs, teaching economics and public management courses at Folsom Lake College, and performing the very important job of spending time with his granddaughter who was born about one year ago.