WRCBAA 2021 Spring Conference

Black Lives, Black Minds, Black Scholars: Creating Sustainable Change Together

February 5-6, 2021, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Conference Resources

Presenter Bios

Presenters and Guests:

Dr. Stacy Thompson, Vice President, Academic Services @ Chabot College, Hayward, California

Dr. Thompson serves as the Vice President of Academic Services at Chabot College in Hayward California. Prior this position she was the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Merritt College. For many years she also served as department chair of Human development and was tenured faculty in the Child Development Department for over 10 years. Dr. Thompson serves on local, regional and national boards including; President of the Western Region Council on Black American Affairs (WRCBAA); Vice President of Programs for National Council on Black American Affairs (NCBAA); and member of the Alumni Board for Lewis and Clark College.

Dr. Thompson holds a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and a Master of Arts Degree in Education from Mills College, Oakland, CA. Master of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Mills College in Oakland, CA. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR.

Contact email: slthompson@chabotcollege.edu

Dr. Tammy Robinson, Vice President, Instruction @ Cañada College, Redwood City, California

Dr. Tammy Robinson serves as the Vice President of Instruction at Cañada College in Redwood City, California. Prior to this position, she served as the Dean of Global Learning Programs and Services and Dean for Social Science and Creative Arts at Skyline College in San Bruno, California.  Dr. Robinson has over twenty years of experience as a community college administrator and faculty member. She also served as interim Vice President of Academic Services Services/Athletic Director/CIO at Lassen Community College in Susanville, California. She was also the Department Chair of English/ESL/Linguistics Department at Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles California. 

Dr. Tammy Robinson holds a Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Community College Administration from the University of Southern California, a Master of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition from California State University, Dominguez Hills, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Arts degree in Social Science from Cerritos College.

Contact email: robinsontammy@smccd.edu

Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza, Vice President, Instruction @ Skyline College, San Bruno, California

Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza is the Vice President of Instruction at Skyline College. An educator with over twenty years of higher education experience, nineteen years in the community college system—as a classified professional, tenured faculty leader, director, dean and vice president—she is continually inspired by the brilliance, power and endless potential of community college students.

Through collective action, she works with faculty, classified professionals, students, and administrators to lead initiatives—guided pathways, professional development, online-learning, workforce partnerships, global learning, and dual enrollment pathways. Her work integrates Student Services and Instruction dismantling structural inequities to create programs responsive to local economic and social needs.

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Human Investment Project (HIP) Housing and this past year was named an Aspen Presidential Fellow. Dr. Taylor-Mendoza recently co-authored Minding the Obligation Gap in Community Colleges: Theory and Practice in Achieving Educational Equity. Currently, she is an elected executive board member for the State’s chief instructional officers and serves as the CIO representative to the State Chancellor’s diversity, equity, inclusion workgroup. She also chairs the newly formed CIO diversity, equity, and inclusion committee.

A proud alumna of El Camino College, she holds a B.A. in Psychology, California State University, Los Angeles, an M.S. in Counseling, California State University, Northridge, and a Ph.D. in Education, Claremont Graduate University.

Contact email: mendozaj@smccd.edu

Dr. Jamillah Moore, President @ Cañada College, Redwood City, California

Dr. Jamillah Moore is President of Cañada College, an award-winning institution located in the heart of the Silicon Valley.  She was appointed to the position in June of 2016 by the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) Board of Trustees.  She comes to Cañada College after working at SMCCCD where she served as the Vice Chancellor for Educational Services and Planning for the 2015-2016 academic year. 

 A native Californian, President Moore holds two degrees from California State University, Sacramento- a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Masters in Intercultural Communication and Public Policy.  Dr. Moore also earned a Doctorate from the University of San Francisco in International and Multicultural Education. 

Dr. Moore’s background also includes teaching and research in the area of educational access and equity with a primary focus on student success for minority and low-income students.  She has consulted on education policy issues with college systems and policymaking organizations in California and Washington, DC.  She has testified in front of local governments and the state legislature. As a former California State Senate Fellow, legislative staffer and consultant to the Senate Select Committee on Higher Education Admissions and Outreach.  Dr. Moore has written policy as well as advocated and fundraised on behalf of California students.  She was a member of the policy team that advocated for admission in the local context for the University of California.  With an educational career spanning more than 25 years, Dr. Jamillah Moore has become known for her passion on educational excellence, commitment to students, strategic leadership, and tackling difficult issues.  President Moore has a reputation for leveraging collaborative partnerships with public and private organizations, enabling students, faculty and staff to cross institutional boundaries and engage in innovative instruction to ensure student success.

Contact email: moorej@smccd.edu

Dr. Edward Bush, President @ Cosumnes River College, Sacramento, California

Dr. Edward Bush has over 20 years of experience in higher education with 17 of those years in the California Community College system. Dr. Bush currently serves as the President of Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, Ca.  Dr. Bush has served as a tenured associate faculty member in student activities, Director of the Educational Talent Search federal TRIO grant, and Dean of Student Services.  In addition, has served on numerous college, district, and state-wide committees throughout his career and has been active in several community organizations including serving on the board for four non-profit foundations.  Dr. Bush has also worked as an adjunct instructor for the Graduate School of Education at the University of Redlands and Brandman University. Dr. Bush has taught courses in student development, organizational theory, and research. 

 Dr. Bush is an innovative leader that has a history of developing programs and services that foster both student access and success; including the development of targeted programs for historically underserved populations as well as veterans. Most recently Dr. Bush has garnered acclaim for the implementation of the 2-year graduation guarantee contract for first time freshmen from the local feeder school districts.  Under his leadership this program has shown to significantly improve the time to degree completion and achievement rates in unprecedented numbers.  Dr. Edward Bush is scholar-practitioner, thus has co-authored 2 books, 2 book chapters, and 8 peer reviewed publications appearing in journals including: Black Issues in Higher EducationCommunity College Week, Diverse Educational Horizons, Journal of African American Males in Education, and the Community College Journal. Moreover Dr. Bush is a sought after speaker on issues relating to student success, equity, diversity, and leadership. He has been an invited presenter for numerous local, statewide, and national organizations.

Dr. Bush received his Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science from University of California, Riverside, Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, San Bernardino, and his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Claremont Graduate University in Urban Educational Leadership.

Contact email: BushE@crc.losrios.edu

Dr. Matais Pouncil

Dr. Matais Pouncil, Vice President, Academic Affairs @ Evergreen Valley College, San Jose, California

Dr. Pouncil has nearly 25 years of professional experience at California Community Colleges. He currently serves as the Vice President, Academic Affairs, Evergreen Valley College He has served as a Dean of Student Services, an Associate Dean of Financial Aid Services and Student Success; a Dean of Science and Technology, Dean of Enrollment Services; EOPS Director, Assistant Director and Counselor of EOP; and TRIO coordinator. His most senior level appointment was a two-year term as Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Additionally, Dr. Pouncil has taught graduate students at the University of California, Irvine, and has served as full time faculty at California State University, East Bay. Dr. Pouncil earned a B.S. in Economics from Southern University, in Baton Rouge, LA; a M.Ed. in Social and Multicultural Foundations from California State University, Long Beach, and he is the first African American man to earn an Ed.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Additionally, he is a graduate of the prestigious Management Development Program (MDP) at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Contact email: drpouncil@gmail.com

Dr. Abdimalik Buul, Faculty @ San Diego City College, San Diego, California

Dr. Abdimalik Buul is an award-winning professor, antiracist activist, progressive practitioner, and emancipatory educator.  He is an innovative dynamic leader within the San Diego community and throughout the state of California. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in community-based counseling and social justice, both from San Diego State University (SDSU).  He completed his doctorate work in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California (USC).  He is a Professor and Transfer Center Director in the counseling department at San Diego City College. Dr. Buul is also a lecturer at San Diego State University (SDSU) where he teaches Restorative Practices and Conflict Transformation to students in the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Recovery & Trauma-informed Care MA in Education with concentration in Counseling program. He serves as a task force member on the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) Equity Diversity and Action Committee.  

As an active community leader, he serves on several boards and roles including:

  • President for Markaz al Madina a community-based non-profit
  • Vice President of the Somali Community of San Diego
  • Board member at large for African American Male and Educational Development Network (A2mend),
  • Board Member for the board for the United Taxi Drivers Union in San Diego.

Contact email: abdulmaliksd@gmail.com 

Dr. Marshall Fulbright, III, Vice President, Academic Affairs @ Grossmont College, San Diego, California

Dr. Marshall Fulbright, III currently serves as the Vice President, Academic Affairs at Grossmont College in San Diego, California.  His prior assignment was at Norco College, a Hispanic-Serving Institution in Riverside County, where he served as Dean of Instruction for the School of Arts & Humanities and the School of Social & Behavioral Sciences. During his time there, Norco College participated in the pilot program of the California Guided Pathways Project and implemented guided pathways for its students.

Prior to Norco College, Fulbright was the dean of the Division of Arts, Letters and Learning Resources at College of the Sequoias, a Hispanic-Serving Institution in Visalia in the San Joaquin Valley. He also previously served as chair and tenured music professor in the Performing Arts Department at Long Beach City College. In total, Fulbright has more than 20 years’ teaching experience in primary, secondary and higher education.

Dr. Fulbright has a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership from Azusa Pacific University, a Master’s of music in orchestral conducting from the University of California Santa Barbara, and a Bachelor’s of music, music education, and orchestral conducting from Chapman University.

Dr. Miles K. Davis

Dr. Miles K. Davis, President @ Linfield University

Dr. Miles K. Davis is the 20th president of Linfield University. Davis has a Ph.D. in human and organizational sciences from The George Washington University, an M.A. in human resource development from Bowie State University and a B.A. in communications from Duquesne University. He was the inaugural chair of the management science department at the Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business at Shenandoah University and became the founding director of its Institute for Entrepreneurship.
Dr. Davis went on to become the dean of the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of business.

Davis is an authority on entrepreneurship whose most recent work focuses on integrity, values and principles in the business world, as well as faith-based entrepreneurship. He helps organizations manage cultural and structural changes, strategic planning, leadership development and strategic growth initiatives.

He is a member of the Society of Leadership Fellows at St. George’s House (their first non-UK based member), an organization based out of Windsor Castle in England that brings together world leaders in a variety of fields to analyze contemporary issues. Davis is also the first college president to come out of The PhD Project, a network that helps members of underrepresented communities attain doctorates and become leaders in higher education. Recently, Dr. Davis was appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Association Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). NAICU is the official policy and lobbying arm of non-profit private higher education in the USA.

Dr. Davis has won numerous awards including awards of service from the NAACP and the “Drum Major for Justice Award” from the United Churches of Christ. He has also won recognition for his interfaith work from the Islamic Society of North American and the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Davis is a much sought-after speaker on the topics of: organizational change, ethical, moral and principled leadership, and the need to transform higher education. 

Dr. Dyrell Foster

Dr. Dyrell Foster, President @ Las Positas College

Dr. Dyrell Foster has been an administrator in the California Community College system for over 20 years. He was selected as the new President of Las Positas College
 and began in February, 2020. He is a student-centered leader, with a proven track record of advancing educational access, equity, student retention and success.
He is committed to providing strong leadership at LPC with a high degree of integrity, passion, and commitment to fully serving our students in a growing and
supportive community.

Previously, Dr. Foster served as the Vice President of Student Services at Moreno Valley College. He has served as a part-time lecturer in the College of Education at both California State University, Long Beach and California State University, Fullerton.

Dr. Foster received his Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Southern California, his Master of Science in Counseling and Student Development in Higher Education from Cal State Long Beach, and his Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavioral Science from the UC Davis.

Dr. Foster is passionate about cultivating effective partnerships and promoting innovative approaches to enhancing student success outcomes for the students at
Las Positas College. Finally, Dr. Foster has been and continues to be a strong supporter of the Veterans First program. 

Dr. Lande Ajose

Dr. Lande Ajose, Senior Policy Advisor of Higher Education @ the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

Dr. Lande Ajose is the Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education for Governor Gavin Newsom. She is responsible for developing and shaping the Governor’s higher education policy agenda, which is focused on protecting college affordability, preserving college access, and increasing system efficiency in order to meet the state’s need for a skilled and educated workforce. Prior to this appointment, she served as executive director of California Competes, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project that develops and advocates on behalf of policies to equitably boost California’s postsecondary degree attainment. Her experience in higher education spans college admissions at Vassar College, education and workforce development funding at the James Irvine Foundation, and research and evaluation at MDRC, where she managed a comprehensive evaluation of the Achieving the Dream Initiative. An ardent advocate for college affordability, in 2014 she was appointed to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) by Governor Jerry Brown and served as chair for two years until her resignation in May 2019. She has served on boards of the Institute of College Access and Success (TICAS), the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and, until her appointment to the Governor’s office, she was a WASC Senior College and University Commissioner. She currently serves on the advisory committee for the Higher Education Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California and on the Board of Trustees at Occidental College. A graduate of Occidental, she earned her master’s degree from the School of Public Affairs at UCLA and holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from her alma mater.

enhancing student success outcomes for the students at
Las Positas College. Finally, Dr. Foster has been and continues to be a strong supporter of the Veterans First program.  

Reshanda Gray

Reshanda Gray, Professional Basketball Player @ Los Angeles Sparks

Reshanda Gray is a Los Angeles native who is currently playing professional basketball for the Los Angeles Sparks. She attended Washington Preparatory High School in South LA where she earned a full scholarship to the University Of California Berkeley. She had an outstanding career with a league championship, 2013 Final Four Appearance, in 2015 she was named conference player of the year. After graduating in 2015 Reshanda was blessed with the opportunity to play professional basketball in the WNBA(Women’s National Basketball Association). She got drafted second round 16th pick to Minnesota Lynx that is where she began her career. Gray also played for other professional teams in the WNBA like Atlanta Dream, Connecticut Sun, New York Liberty and current team Los Angeles Sparks. She also was able to play professional basketball overseas in Italy, Hungary, and South Korea just to name a few.

Off the court Reshanda major in Social Welfare because she had a lot of experience with the system ( children protect services) and wanted to help families. Growing up in South Los Angeles there was not enough opportunities to help keep kids out of trouble. Although it was this one non profit after school program Reshanda attended and it changed her whole prospective of the world she lived in. That program inspired her to start her own non profit in 2017 call No Gray Areas Foundation. No Gray Areas was founded with the mission to provide love, support, and opportunities to empower undecided girls and women. 💜

ALEXANDRA BADER

Alexandra Bader, Senior Recruiter @ Hulu

Alexandra Bader is a Senior Recruiter at Hulu and has been a part of the company for 7 years. She recruits for the Ad Sales & Operations department as well as the Business Development & Operations group. Alex has also taken on special projects such as an interview skills training, a partnership with the WRCBAA and referrals management.

Bernita Dillard

Bernita Dillard, MBA — Diversity Program Manager @ Facebook

Bernita Dillard, MBA is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leader and change agent with 10+ years of experience in revolutionizing hiring and talent management programs to attract and retain top diverse talent. She has dedicated her career to creating inclusive work environments to ensure underrepresented minorities have equal access to career opportunities.

She has successfully created strategic partnerships between corporations, government agencies, and community organizations to expand talent pipelines and develop support frameworks to improve retention rates.

Bernita has been able to deliver industry-leading results for the world’s largest tech firms, such as Facebook and Google, through the development of comprehensive DEI strategies. By designing inclusive frameworks beyond talent acquisition to incorporate learning and professional development, employee resource groups, and compensation and advancement, she has successfully driven increases in diverse representation in talent pools and reversed attrition patterns.

Furthermore, in her current role as the Diversity Program Manager for the Global Product & SWE Leadership division at Facebook, Bernita has been able to leverage innovative data analytics to better evaluate existing hiring practices and influence product development decisions.

Some of Bernita’s key strategy and program development achievements include:
✓ Increased hiring of underrepresented local talent by 700% through the launch of data-driven local talent acquisition program at Facebook
✓ Delivered 26% increase in diverse talent hiring through community job fair expansion
✓ Introduced global Diversity Talent Acquisition Summit at Facebook, attracting 1200 attendees

Bernita holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from San Jose University and an MBA from the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College.

Ricky Shabazz

Ricky Shabazz, Ed.D., President @ San Diego City College

Dr. Ricky Shabazz is an enthusiastic, student-centered leader with over 20 years of executive experience advancing academic achievement, educational equity, diversity, and improving access to higher education. He is an effective public speaker and team builder with an accomplished track record developing collaborative partnerships that improve student success. He specializes in enrollment management and cultivating institutional policies, processes, and
culture that provide personalized student experiences and improves student outcomes. Dr. Shabazz’s demonstrated strengths include using data informed decisions to lead high impact models of practice, promoting innovative solutions that stimulate inclusive dialogue amongst all stakeholders, and being a passionate lifelong learner who is absolutely committed to the mission of community colleges to educate a diverse community of learners.

As San Diego City College’s President and CEO, Dr. Shabazz provides executive leadership at one of the most innovative and socially active community colleges in the nation with a focus on student completion, success, and social justice. He has previously held positions as Vice President of Student Services, San Bernardino Valley College; Dean of Student Services, El Camino College Compton Center; Associate Director of Admissions, Harvey Mudd College;
MESA Program Director and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of California, Davis (UCD); and Analyst in the University of California Office of the President.

Dr. Shabazz earned an Ed.D. in educational leadership, a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, San Bernardino, and a bachelor’s degree from UCD. His research expertise is in increasing college access for underrepresented students. Dr. Shabazz was the first person in his family to attend college. His mother was a teenage parent and his father is a veteran. He takes pride in helping students from diverse communities achieve academic excellence and building highly effective teams. Dr. Shabazz serves on the boards of Sharp Hospitals, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the Jackie Robinson YMCA, YPO Pacific West, A2MEND, The President’s Round Table, and a host of other community agencies. 

San Diego City College is an Aspen Institute Top 20 community college that is accredited by the ACCJC. City College is a Hispanic Serving Institution serving approximately 17,000 students in credit and noncredit programs. City College has nearly 1,000 employees and an annual budget of approximately $70 million.

Dr. Larry Johnson

Dr. Larry D. Johnson, Jr., President @ Phoenix College

Dr. Larry D. Johnson Jr. is an equity-minded student advocate with nearly 20 years of community college experience. In July 2018, he was appointed the sixth president of Phoenix College and the first African American in its 100-year history. As president, he launched the President’s Promise, a comprehensive plan to (re)engage community and workforce leaders; improve employee satisfaction and engagement; implement best practices that will lead to an increase in student persistence, retention, and completion; and cultivate an environment that embraces diverse perspectives. Because of his commitment to student success, Johnson was selected to participate
in the inaugural New President’s Fellowship of the College Excellence Program of Aspen Institute.

Prior to his appointment as President, Johnson served as campus provost and chief academic officer at St. Louis Community College’s Forest Park Campus. He was instrumental in implementing early college programs, in collaboration with St. Louis area public school leaders, and increasing access and success for men of color. Before his tenure at St. Louis, he served in numerous positions, including associate dean of English and journalism, department chair of general students and developmental education, and faculty member and student concerns officer.

Johnson is actively engaged in educational and civic communities through his participation and service on several boards and commissions. He now serves on boards such as the Greater Phoenix Urban League, Helping Hands for Single Moms, and Arizona Center for Youth Resources, to name a few.

Johnson earned his B.A. in English literature from Florida A&M University, and an M.A. in humanities with an emphasis in medieval to baroque studies and a graduate certificate in institutional research from Florida State University. He earned a doctor of arts degree from Clark Atlanta University in humanities with a focus in English literature.

Dr. Rasheed

Dr. Lawrence Rasheed, African American Student Faculty/Coordinator @ Lane Community College

Dr. Rasheed has over 20 years of experience in P-20 educational settings. He currently serves as the African American Student Faculty/Coordinator for Lane Community College, Director of the African American Rights of Passage Program, and is the Black Student Union Advisor. In addition to his roles at Lane Community College, he also teaches a course at the University of Oregon. His concentration on Black Male Studies led him to found R.A.A.M.P. (Reaching African American Male’s Potential) which seeded R.A.A.M.P. Charter Academy. He also founded G.R.I.O.T. (Greatness Rediscovered in Our Time) Mentoring, P.O.W.E.R. (Providing ‘Whol’istic Educational Resources) Consulting, and established the first Black Male Studies course at the community college level in Oregon.

Dr. Rasheed has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Pacific University in Stockton, California. He also holds a Master in Literacy Education from California State University San Marcos and a BA in English from the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He sits on a number of committees including as the Faculty Representative for Cultural Competency in Higher Education at Lane Community College. As the college’s liaison to Lane County K-12 schools, and coordinator of community outreach and inclusion events, he works daily to build cultural bridges and advocate for black youth. With his passion for the amelioration of African American males, he continuously champions positive perceptions of their social, academic, and personal accomplishments until those archetypes are customary and expected.

Landon Smith

Landon Smith, Faculty @ Chabot College in Hayward

Landon Smith was born in LA, but grew up in San Jose, CA. He earned his BA in English from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. He later attended Mills College in Oakland, CA to attain his MA in English Literature and Languages with an emphasis on Black Texts and Social Justice. He previously worked as the Liberal and Creative Arts Coordinator in the Metro College Success Program at San Francisco State University – a program for first generation, low-income, (primarily) students of color. He is currently a Full-Time Tenure Track faculty member in the English Department at Chabot College in Hayward, where he serves on the Student Equity Committee, serves as a faculty advisor on the Stay Woke Collective (a student-led social justice organization), and works with the RISE program – a transitional program that works with helping previously incarcerated students transition. Additionally, Landon is also a published poet.

London Hill

Dr. Landon Hill, Director of Program Effectiveness @ East Oakland Youth Development Center

Dr. Landon Hill serves as the Director of Program Effectiveness at the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), located in his hometown of Oakland, California. In his role, Dr. Hill manages all aspects of EOYDC programming, which serves students across the kindergarten through undergraduate spectrum. He is uniquely positioned to help ensure that programmatic and organizational goals are aligned, practical, and best support the needs of the students from the community at large. In addition to his work with EOYDC, he teaches in the Graduate College of Education at San Francisco State University and is involved in other community efforts with various organizations, including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Hill’s research is dedicated to identifying ways in which Black students’ cultural practices can be sustained and utilized within classroom settings to support academic achievement and socioemotional development. His research interests include language and literacy practices of African American students, culturally sustaining pedagogy, hip hop pedagogy, critical race theory, and triple quandary. He earned his MA of Education from California State University, Long Beach and Ed.D. from San Francisco State University. Above all, he is a husband and father to his amazing wife and daughter.

Cassie Betts

Cassie Betts, CEO & Founder @ District2.co

Cassie Betts is a leading advocate for increasing diversity in tech through youth & community training. She was homeless at the age of 19. Through several resources and local organizations, she was able to go from sleeping on bus stop benches and cardboard boxes to acting and modeling in Coca-Cola® commercials as well as TV & film. She graduated from FIDM, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and maintained a lucrative career in the fashion industry. Cassie founded a fashion-tech company called District2.co in 2013 out of the South LA Incubator, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC), as well as Silicon Beach’s Stubbs Alderton & Markiles Preccelerator. She is also a founding member of Black Women in Tech, co-produces Urban Tech Connect – an annual tech conference headed by Plugin South LA, and is the Lead Consultant for Technology & Innovation at VSEDC. Forbes dubbed her “The Woman Turning South LA into Startup Land”. She is the catalyst and visionary behind South Central’s first tech center and leading the charge for the South LA Best Buy Teen Tech Center opening Fall/Winter 2020 with VSEDC in partnership with Annenberg Tech, and PledgeLA. She is a full-stack web developer after receiving a full scholarship from Code District. Throughout the years, Cassie has cultivated her talents, experiences and skills to become founder of MISLA, Made In South LA. MISLA is a non-profit that trains at-risk/ high-risk South LA youth in high-level technology and multi-media. Local Community organizations and small businesses hire MISLA youth through a partnering Social Enterprise platform called MARTY on an on-going basis to assume responsibility of their web development as well as Branding & Digital Marketing.

Lawrence Leach

Lawrence Leach, Director Software Development @ Ad Applications

Lawrence has worked as a Software Engineer for Web, Mobile and Interactive Applications for 30+ years. He is a veteran of the ad tech industry having worked at OpenX Technologies as a Sr. Engineer as well serving 10 years as the CTO of the Sausalito, Ca-based WebSight Design where he incorporated advertising streaming solutions for clients. His knowledge extends from application development to people management and extensive industry experience. As Director of Software Development, his teams are responsible for many of the advertising innovations driving the success of the digital Ad Platforms team at Hulu.

Ajani Byrd

Dr. Ajani M. Byrd, Interim Dean of Student Equity and Success @ West Valley College, Saratoga, California

Dr. Byrd is an equity minded scholar-practitioner that specializes in the retention and persistence of students of color. He has over 15 years of experience in post-secondary education across student and instructional affairs divisions. Dr. Byrd has worked at mid-sized private institutions, large public universities, state-wide organizations and most recently within community colleges.

Currently, he serves as the acting dean of student equity and success at West Valley College, where he provides leadership and oversight over multiple student success units and learning communities. Dr. Byrd previously served as the interim dean of language arts and director of Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) at Mission College. While at Mission, Dr. Byrd worked with his colleagues to bring African American focused programming to campus, which included the Inaugural Black and Brown Summit and the African American High School Leadership Conference. Prior to Mission College, Dr. Byrd served as a post-doctorate fellow at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office where he gained extensive experiences evaluating Student Equity and Achievement programming, evaluating Inmate and Re-Entry Education practices, and launching statewide initiatives focusing on student food and housing insecurity.

Dr. Byrd has published multiple manuscripts and presented at numerous national conferences utilizing a critical lens towards equity and social justice. Dr. Byrd received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago, Master of Arts in Sports Management from the University of San Francisco, and Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University.

Yolanda Barnes

Yolanda Barnes, Articulation Officer @ Mission College, Santa Clara, California

Yolanda Barnes has over 30 years of experience in higher education spanning across all three California systems – UC, CSU and CCC. Her entire career has been spent supporting and advocating for disenfranchised students, starting with her role as EOP Peer Advisor during her undergraduate years at UC Davis. From there she served as the Re-entry Program Coordinator at Cosumnes River College, African American High School Student Outreach Specialist at CSU Sacramento, and EOP Counselor at CSU Hayward.

Currently, Yolanda is a counseling faculty member and has served as Mission College’s Articulation Officer for the past 20 years. During her tenure, she established the Honors Program, served as Honors Program Coordinator, and continues to advocate for students on various committees such as Student Success and Support, AB 705 Task Force and Guided Pathways. And, while no official program exists to intentionally support African American students on Mission College’s campus, Yolanda, along with other Black faculty, staff and administrators, work tirelessly to ensure the campus is providing year-round programming that highlights the beauty and achievements of African Americans.

Also, Yolanda is the co-creator of Mission’s community for Black faculty, staff and administrators known as B.A.E. (Black Academic Excellence) and is currently spearheading efforts to bring an official UMOJA Community to Mission College.

Dr. David Piper

Dr. David Piper, Adjunct Faculty @ Mission College, Santa Clara, California

Dr. Piper has over 35 years of experience in higher education in the California Community College system. Dr. Piper currently serves as the lead Faculty and Liaison for Student Equity and Success and Adjunct Faculty representative on the Academic Senate at Mission College. Dr. Piper teaches Psychology, Humanities and Counseling in the Psychology, Humanities and Counseling departments at Mission College. Prior to joining Mission College in 2005, Dr. Piper held the position of Social Science Instructor and EOPS Counselor at Monterey Peninsula College for 10 years. In addition, Dr. Piper has served on numerous colleges, district, throughout his career and has been active in several community organizations including Executive Director of two non-profit community organizations.

Dr. Piper received his Ed.D., International Multicultural Education, University of San Francisco, 1998, MA, Counseling and Educational Psychology, University of San Francisco, 1987, BA, Psychology, San Jose State University, 1972. Currently teaches Humanities *018, an overview of the humanities through the culture and life experiences of African/African Americans. Content focuses on significant themes such as literary expressions, folklore, visual arts, music, dance, theater, religion, and philosophical thought. When not teaching, Dr. Piper can be found engaged in community activism, arts and educational programs.

Favorite Quote
“An African proverb tells us that people who lack the knowledge of their past are like a tree without roots, they wither up and fade away.”

Nicole Kelly

Nicole Kelly, Regional Director, Global Trade @ Cañada College

Nicole Kelly has over 15 years of professional experience with a diverse background in higher education, city government, non-profits, and K-12 institutions. Ms. Kelly has teaching experience in political science and international relations at the community college level, CTE at the K-12 level, and ESOL as a voluntary teacher abroad.

As part of her ongoing pursuit of professional development, Ms. Kelly served as an Education Pioneers Fellow for the Department of Education in Texas, where she wrote a key data analysis report to the 85th Texas Legislature. She also served as a member of the Advocacy & Regulations Committee for CCCAOE. In addition to teaching in Costa Rica, and doctoral-level study in South Africa, she has led multiple study abroad trips to China for community college students.

In addition to her work in education, Ms. Kelly is the co-founder and CEO of a limited liability company. She acts as brand representative, investment leader, and meeting facilitator. Finally, Ms. Kelly is a doctoral student at Mills College, School of Education, where she enjoys rigorous discourse and scholarship in critical and culturally sustaining pedagogy. She was recently nominated to serve on the Academic and Student Experience Committee for the Mills College, Board of Trustees. Ms. Kelly’s work at Mills College complements her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from San Francisco State University and her continued goal of serving historically unrepresented communities.

John R. Mosby

Dr. John R. Mosby, President @ Highline College (Seattle, WA)

Dr. John Mosby serves as the 7th President of Highline College since July 2018, founded in 1961 as the first community college in the King County area of Washington State. Mosby is the first person of color to hold the position as President and has more than 26 years of higher education experience.

His professional history includes rich experiences across a variety of higher educational settings. He has served in undergraduate and graduate admissions, outreach and recruitment, advancement and residential life in the community college, California State University, and private college systems. His work experience also includes that of adjunct faculty, teaching undergraduate-, graduate- and doctoral-level courses at the community college and four-year institutions. His research interests are rooted in the belief of servant leadership, social justice, and equity.

A staunch advocate for student and community success, Mosby currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce and Board of Directors for Port Jobs of Seattle as well as continuing to serve in various capacities within higher education on committees addressing the areas of fiscal and institutional planning, accreditation, educational policy, enrollment management, equity, and access at both the local and statewide levels. Mosby is the Co-Chair of the Washington Community and Technical Colleges (CTC) President’s Equity Committee, comprised of an executive body of equity-minded leaders committed to advancing and supporting anti-racist policies and practices across Washington state’s CTC system. In addition, Mosby is as an Adjunct Instructor for the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at San Francisco State University.

Mosby holds a Doctorate in philosophy in Leadership/Higher Education Administration from the University of San Diego, a Master’s degree in Educational and Counseling Psychology from the University of the Pacific and a Bachelor’s degree in English from St. Mary’s College.