2019 CEO Leadership Academy Graduates

The League recognizes these California Community College CEOs as members of the third class of the CEO Leadership Academy: 

Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, President, Grossmont College

Grossmont College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, Ed.D., has more than 28 years of experience in California community colleges. He is known for his collegiality, collaboration and his commitment to success for all students.

Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh started at Grossmont College in July 2015, following his role as president at West Los Angeles College, which began in 2011. He began his community college career as a tenured associate professor of engineering and technology at Pasadena City College, teaching for 10 years before serving as interim dean of engineering and technology. Before teaching, he worked as a transportation engineer and computer-aided engineering trainer at Caltrans. Read more...

Gregory Anderson, President, Riverside City College 

Anderson brings to RCC extensive experience in higher education leadership after previously serving in the role as president, strategic advisor, vice president, dean, director and faculty. As an educator, he has chaired departments and managed programs at colleges and universities in California, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Venezuela. Anderson has expertise in teaching, developing curricula, training faculty and assessing outcomes that leads to improved student access and outcomes.

His leadership positions include vice president of planning, research and institutional effectiveness and vice president of instruction in the San Mateo County Community College District; dean, Learning Resources division; director, Student Success Center and president, Academic Senate at De Anza College, director positions at University of Southern California and most recently president at Saddleback College and interim vice president, instruction at Mt. San Antonio College. Read more...

Seher Awan, President, Los Angeles Southwest College

Seher Awan, Ed.D., is Los Angeles Southwest College's 17th president. She started in this position on July 16, 2018. 

Dr. Awan is an energetic and passionate community college advocate.

As a first-generation, community college graduate herself, she began her career as an hourly staff member at College of the Canyons. She earned a contract classified position in EOPS/CARE & CalWORKs, falling in love with the transformational change that occurs through the community college system. She continues to serve some of the most disadvantaged and underrepresented populations and has continued to build on her passion for helping others. Dr. Awan has over 12 years of community college experience. Read more...

Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President, Columbia College

Dr. Bandyopadhyay 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 is currently the Executive Vice President of Educational Programs and Student Services at Cypress College.  Prior to that he worked as the Director of Institutional Research and Planning, also at Cypress College; Director of Institutional Research at Zane State College; and, Budget & Policy Analyst at Ohio University.  He served 4 years as a full-time faculty in Computer Science at the National Institute of Information Technology.  He 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.

Bandyopadhyay will succeed Columbia College President Dr. Angela Fairchilds, who is retiring after 38 years in higher education. Read more...

Jerry Buckley, President, Reedley College 

Dr. Jerry Buckley is the 20th president in Reedley College history.

A new and exciting chapter is on the horizon at Reedley College, as Dr. Jerry Buckley takes over as president of the campus Monday, June 3. Dr. Buckley comes to the Central Valley from the Santa Clarita Community College District, where he served as assistant superintendent/vice president of academic affairs since August of 2013. Prior to that, Dr. Buckley served a served as was the vice president of instruction for the San Diego Community College District.
Dr. Buckley’s resume is extensive, also working for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District as senior dean of planning, research & institutional effectiveness, acting vice president of academic affairs, dean, interim associate dean, and professor. Read more...

Brent Calvin, Superintendent/President, College of the Sequoias 

Long-time educational leader, Calvin has worked at the College of the Sequoias for 16 years and previously served as an interim superintendent/president in 2011, until the hiring of Stan Carrizosa, the college’s former leader. He additionally serves as COS’s Vice President of Student Services. Calvin earned a Business Administration Bachelor of Arts degree from CSU Fullerton, a Master’s in Business Administration from CSU Dominguez Hills, and a Master’s in Education Leadership from Northcentral University. Calvin previously owned an engineering firm in Southern California which he sold to URS Corporation, a San Francisco-based engineering and construction firm. Part of the sale was a non-compete agreement which prevented him from working in any of the industries that URS participated in for five years. Read more...

Byron D. Clift Breland, Chancellor, San Jose-Evergreen CCD

Dr. Clift Breland previously served as San José City College (SJCC) president from 2013 until his appointment as interim chancellor. He has held numerous instructional and administrative positions in K-12 and higher education. His innovative leadership has positioned SJCC among the top institutions in the nation in career education and workforce preparation. He now brings that innovative leadership to the entire District.

During his time as SJCC president and his tenure as interim chancellor, Dr. Clift Breland worked to develop partnerships in Silicon Valley that provide meaningful educational and job training experiences for the diverse student body of SJCC and Evergreen Valley College. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in consumer economics and a Master of Science degree in family studies from the University of Maryland, College Park; a Master of Science in education and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, both from the University of Southern California. Read more...

Carole Goldsmith, President, Fresno City College

Dr. Goldsmith has been recognized on state and national levels as an expert on workforce development, contextualized learning, and career technical education. She is sought out as a public speaker on a wide range of educational issues. Goldsmith has spent over 20 years in a variety of educational leadership roles, most recently as President of Fresno City College.

Before taking the helm at Fresno City College on August 1st, Goldsmith served as President of West Hills College Coalinga for nearly four years. Prior to that, Dr. Goldsmith held the office of Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development at West Hills for four years. She started her career of service as a K-12 teacher at a small rural school, then as an administrator at an Adult School and at a private post-secondary college. Dr. Goldsmith still visits the classroom as an adjunct professor at the university level. Read more...

Michael Gutierrez, President, Sacramento City College

Michael  Gutierrez has served in a variety of roles in the Texas system of higher education since 1992, which include the 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 the University of the Cumberlands in Higher Education. Read more...

Heather Hiles, CEO, California Online Community College

Heather Hiles, an entrepreneur who has led companies that support technology and access initiatives at higher education institutions, will serve as chief executive officer of the new institution. She has served for 14 months as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s deputy director of solutions for postsecondary success. Earlier in her career, she founded four other ventures, including Pathbrite, which helps students track and showcase their academic achievements and was sold in 2015 to the textbook publisher Cengage.

In addition to her leadership roles, Hiles has consulted with numerous education-related companies, including an ongoing role as senior education adviser to Cengage. She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics and ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990, and followed that in 1995 with an M.B.A. in finance and strategic planning from Yale University. Read more...

Kim Hoffmans, President, Ventura College

Dr. Hoffmans has served VCCCD for the last 25 years as a nursing faculty, coordinator/department chair, and dean at Moorpark College and currently as President for Ventura College.

 Dr. Hoffmans background includes leadership of academic programs, student services areas, career technical education, accreditation, curriculum, Guided Pathways, and enrollment management. Dr. Hoffmans has served on statewide boards for the California Community College (CCC) Chief Instructional Officers, CCC Athletics Association, CCC Workforce & Economic Development Performance Advisory Board, and others. Locally, she has served as a member of the Ventura College Foundation Board of Directors, a member of the California Lutheran University advisory committee for the Graduate School of Education Doctorate Program, and a member of South Central Coast Regional Consortium of community colleges.

She is excited to serve Ventura College and support student achievement and success in her new role as president of Ventura College. Read more...

James Houpis, President, Modesto Junior College

“I am excited about joining such an outstanding College and developing relationships and working with committed colleagues, faculty, staff, students, and community members toward common goals,” commented Houpis on the announcement.

Dr. Houpis is currently the Dean of Academic Support and Learning Technologies at Skyline College.  His previous work experience includes serving as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at California State University, East Bay; Dean of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico; Professor of Applied Ecology, Pollution Ecology and Environmental Sciences at Southern Illinois University; and, Environmental Scientist and Project Leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  He holds a Ph.D. in Forest Science from University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Science Degree from San Diego State University, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Sciences from University of California, Berkeley. Read more...

Daren Otten, Superintendent/President, Copper Mountain CCD

Dr. Otten has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology and Manufacturing Management, a Master’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering, both from CSU, Chico, and a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from CSU, Sacramento, and prides himself on working as a connector and communicator between educational institutions and the community, and truly appreciates and enjoys the relationship building that is required when working and living in smaller rural areas.

Dr. Otten is currently the Interim Vice President of Instruction and Student Services at Yuba College. Daren previously served as Dean of Applied Academics and Workforce Development, a unit with traditional CTE programs, but also home to departments of Allied Health, Public Safety, and Athletics. He is the college facilitator for both Guided Pathways and Strategic Enrollment Management efforts, the co-chair of College Council and Curriculum Committees, and the point person for nurturing and developing partnerships with community entities, including Beale Air Force Base, Enterprise Rancheria’s Hard Rock Casino, local municipalities, and educational organizations. Read more...

Paul Parnell, Chancellor, State Center CCD

Coming soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Art Pimentel, President, Woodland Community College

Born and raised in Woodland, Pimentel previously worked for the college beginning in 2006 as its public information officer before transitioning to director or TRiO Programs. He was appointed executive dean for the Lake County Campus of Woodland Community College in 2012. In summer 2014, he took on the role of campus dean at the West Sacramento Center for Sacramento City College in the Los Rios Community College District and was appointed as the district director of educational services and student success. 

Pimentel has a bachelor’s in social sciences and master’s in educational leadership from Sacramento State and a doctorate in education from UC Davis. Read more...

Angel Reyna, President, Reedley College, Madera Community College Center

Angel Reyna is the first on-campus president at Madera and Oakhurst Community College Centers. Mr. Reyna comes to MCCC from Renton Technical College, where he served as vice president of instruction in Washington state since December of 2015. Prior to that, he served as dean of workforce education at Walla Walla Community College and director for workforce education, interim industry coordinator, and ESL adjunct instructor at Yakima Valley Community College.  

Mr. Reyna has a very diverse resume, having served as mayor of the City of Mabton, Washington from 2010-2013 and a city councilmember there from 2006-2009. He also worked as a seasonal migrant farmworker in the state of Washington for 13 years. Read more...

Julius Sokenu, Acting President, Moorpark College 

Ever since immigrating to America from Nigeria 30 years ago, Dr. Julius Sokenu, Acting President at Moorpark College, hasn’t been unmindful to the biases in America. As a black, gay, single father, he steadfastly refuses to be stereotyped and has used these experiences to drive his ambitions and spirituality to greater heights. After graduating from USC, Sokenu went to Arizona State University, where he was a teaching assistant and earn his Master of Fine Arts degree (Creative Writing). That is was when he realized that he loved education. He got his Ph. D. from Boston University in 2004, while he was faculty and department chair of the English and Communications at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut.

Well respected by his peers and regarded for his calm and thoughtful approach to problems, Sokenu has many fans; not just at Moorpark, but at other colleges in the district as well. Read more...

Elliot Stern, President, Saddleback College 

Dr. Stern, a Detroit native, began his college education at Oakland Community College. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Medicine and D.O. from Michigan State University. Later he earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan School of Law and practiced as a medical litigator for seven years.

Dr. Stern made his return to Saddleback College immediately from Lake Washington Institute of Technology, where he served as Vice President of Instruction since 2015. In this role, Dr. Stern supported the development of 18 new degrees; expanded International and Concurrent Enrollment programs; helped implement Guided Pathways; and expanded Open Educational Resources, amongst other successful campus-wide initiatives. Read more...

Angelica Suarez, President, Orange Coast College 

An educational leader for more than 30 years who is committed to the transformational power of the community colleges, Dr. Angelica Suarez serves as the 11th President of Orange Coast College (OCC). She oversees Orange County's largest community college, which has been serving students since 1947. With a student population of more than 20,000, OCC provides exemplary programs leading to Associate degrees and certificates in more than 130 career programs. OCC is a leader in transfers to four-year institutions, a designated "Military Friendly Institution," a qualifying Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and boasts the only community college sailing and seamanship program in the state. Read more...

Daniel Walden, Superintendent/President, Victor Valley College

Dr. Daniel Walden, a former executive at Los Angeles City College, is the current superintendent/president of Victor Valley College. Walden holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Claremont Graduate University. He grew up in Texas.

Walden has ties to the region - he and his wife have family who have lived in the High Desert for several years. He called his selection to replace Wagner, who was hired nearly five years ago, “the highest honor of my career” and he outlined early priorities in a statement Friday. Read more...

 

John Weispfenning, Chancellor, Coast CCD 

Dr. Weispfenning, former President of Santiago Canyon College, Orange, California, and Vice President of​ Instruction at Orange Coast College, is the author of two dozen plus scholarly publications and papers related to working with media organizations, processes, and content. Dr. Weispfenning has been noted for his published work in the Journal of Communication, Mass Communication Quarterly, and Mass Comm Review and brings his experience as a journalist and broadcaster with radio stations throughout the Midwest​ to the Coast District.

The native North Dakotan has years of experience in and knowledge of the California Community College System. Dr. Weispfenning served on the Executive Board of the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers and on the Executive Board of the Council of Chief Librarians of the California Community Colleges. Read more...

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