Conference Speakers

Dr. Stacy L. ThompsonDr. Stacy L. Thompson, Emeritus Vice President of Academic Services at Chabot College, Vice President of Programs for The Village Demands, and President of the Western Region Council on Black American Affairs.  Dr. Thompson has over 25 years of experience in higher education and has dedicated her life’s work to supporting education as a practice of freedom with a focus on addressing issues of disenfranchisement and exclusion.  Dr. Thompson will provide the welcome for the event.

Dr. Thompson started her career in higher education teaching Early Childhood Development at Merritt College in Oakland, CA. After 10 years in the classroom, and graduating, she became the permanent Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Merritt College. Currently, Dr. Thompson currently serves as the Vice President of Academic Services at Chabot College in Hayward, CA.

Dr. Thompson served on Western Region Council on Black American Affairs (WRBCAA) board for 8 years and now serves as the President. On the national level, she is VP of Programs on for the National Council on Black American Affairs (NCBAA) and is a founding member of the Black Education Association at Chabot College.  Dr. Thompson serves as the Region 3 representative on the California Community College Chief Instructional Officers (CCCCIO) and on the Board of Directors for the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).

Dr. Thompson holds a Doctorate of Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Mills College, a Master’s Degree in Child Development from Mills College and a Bachelor’s Degree Lewis and Clark College.


Dr. Jamal Cooks is the Interim Vice President of Academic Services  at Chabot College in Hayward, Ca. The Division of Language Arts, with over 100 faculty in English, English as a Second Language, World Language, and American Sign Language is a student-centered learning environment that promotes social justice and equity for all students. During his tenure at Chabot College, he successfully implemented an AB 705 procedure, increased the number faculty of color in the division, to better reflect the student population on campus, and co-founded the Chabot Association of Teacher Education (CATE) as a pathway to careers in education working with colleges. Moreover, Dr. Cooks is the administrator for the RISE Program, which is a student support program for formerly incarcerated students attending Chabot College.

Dr. Cooks is an active participant in a number of organizations. He is an active participant in Association of California Community College Administration (ACCCA), is a graduate of the Great Deans and the Mentor programs, the President of the Black Education Association (BEA) for Northern California, and the Marian Schivers Scholarship Award winner in the Carolyn Grubbs Williams Leadership Development Institute (LDI) sponsored by the National Council on Black American Affairs (NCBAA). In addition, he has served for over 20 years as an active member in a number of committees and leadership positions in the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), including the former Chair of the Assembly on Research (NCTE-AR), the Middle Level Steering Committee, and the Committee on English Education.

Prior to community college administration, Dr. Cooks served as a full professor at San Francisco State University. He served as the Associate Director for the Educational Leadership doctoral program where he worked with a leadership team to direct the program, increased the number of the faculty of color as instructors, provided training to faculty about giving culturally relevant pedagogy, and chaired over 18 dissertations. During his tenure, he taught classes in Secondary Education, served on a number of committees in the department, college, and state, and published articles on increasing expository writing, building reading skills, and exploring linguistic diversity.

Originally from Oakland, Ca., Dr. Cooks has a doctorate in Language, Literacy, and Culture and an M.A. in Curriculum Development from the University of Michigan and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Economy of Industrial Societies from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Oakland, with his wife and two children.


Dr. Tammy Robinson is currently the Vice President of Instruction at Cañada College in Redwood City, California.  She is also the President of the National Council on Black American Affairs.  She also served as the Dean, Global Learning Programs and Services and 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. Dr. Robinson 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.


Patiste Marcell Gilmore is currently an Educational Research Assessment Analyst at Mt.San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. Much of his research work has focused on Guided Pathways, Student Equity, and student success (focusing on minority males). In addition to serving as a researcher for his college, Mr. Gilmore is also on the Board of Directors for the RP Group (charged with research, planning, and professional development for California Community Colleges).

Before working in community colleges, Mr. Gilmore occupied various roles in education. He was part of a team that served as the third-party evaluator for LAUSD grantee high schools and Small Learning Community Implementation. He also taught middle school, high school, community college, and university students. Those experiences have allowed Mr. Gilmore to examine K12 to postsecondary preparation, equity, and transfer.

Mr. Gilmore was born and raised in Oakland, CA. He was a BA in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, a MA in African American Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles, and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Utah. He currently resides in Southern California with his wife and newly empty nest.


Danielle Powell is a tenured professor in the Communication Studies department at Skyline College and is the founder and coordinator of the Women’s Mentoring and Leadership Academy (WMLA). She has taught Communication Studies for 24 years at both 4-year universities and community colleges, including James Madison University, Wake Forest University, and at Cascadia College where she was a tenured faculty member before coming to Skyline College. Danielle also leads short-term study abroad programs for the San Mateo County Community College District. She has led an international service learning program to Guatemala, two short-term study abroad programs to South Africa, and will lead another program to Costa Rica this summer. Danielle is a native of North Carolina but she’s lived and worked in diverse communities on both coasts of the United States. She earned a B.S. in Speech Communication from James Madison University, an M.A. in Communication and a Master’s of Divinity degree, both from Wake Forest University; and, a post master’s certificate in Non-Profit Management from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a PhD candidate in the Higher Education Leadership program at Colorado State University. Danielle was the 2018 recipient of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges’ Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award. 


Dr. David M. Johnson is the President of Merritt College in Oakland, CA. In this role, he is responsible for the overall academic and fiscal direction of the institution. His experience as a teacher and as an administrator, coupled with his appreciation for the value of collegial and consultative decision-making, have been invaluable in helping him lead Merritt College.

Before moving into administration Dr. Johnson spent fifteen years in the classroom, teaching at such institutions as the University of Washington, the University of California, Berkeley, and California State University, East Bay. But it was the experience of teaching in Peralta—first as a part-time faculty member and then as a tenure-track instructor in history and African American Studies—that continues to inform his perspectives and priorities as an educator.

Over the past decade, Dr. Johnson has held several administrative positions. He began his post-teaching career at Cañada College in Redwood City, where he served as the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, and later as the Vice President of Instruction. He then assumed the role of Vice President of Academic Affairs at Las Positas College in Livermore. Dr. Johnson’s aspirations to return to the community in which he was reared were finally realized when he was selected as the Vice President of Instruction at Merritt College—and one year later as President.

Raised in Oakland, CA, and a product of the Oakland Unified School District, Dr. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from U.C. Berkeley, a master’s degree in Communication from the University of Washington, and a doctorate in History from U.C. Berkeley.


Landon Smith (He/Him) is an Anti-Racism Educator in California’s Bay Area, seeded on occupied Ohlone land. He got his BA in English from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and went to Mills College in Oakland to attain his MA in English Literature and Languages with an emphasis on Black Texts and Social Justice. He has done Equity and Anti-Racism work both nationally and internationally, grounding his work in scholars and movement workers such as bell hooks, Angela Davis, Antonia Darder, and Walter Rodney. He is currently a Full-Time Tenure Track professor 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 as Faculty Coordinator for the RISE program – a transitional program that works with previously and currently incarcerated students. Landon facilitates Anti-Racism and Equity workshops with the aim of expanding the necessary work of making the world safer for Black, Brown, and Socially Marginalized people.


Dr. Lawrence 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 and Pacific University.  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.


Dr. Jamillah Moore is Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management at San Francisco State University.  Previously, Moore served as the president of Cañada College in Redwood City from 2016 to 2021. During her tenure, she worked to establish the anti-racist framework, a program to support Latinx students with transfer pathways to San Francisco State and co-chaired the San Mateo County Community College District’s Basic Needs Task Force.  

A prominent social justice advocate and higher education leader, she is recognized as an advocate for educational access and equity with a focus on student success for minoritized and low-income students. Her approach in covering diversity, equity and inclusion issues in higher education and their impact on access has garnered praise from intellectuals and activists.  She has published and presented on a variety of topics related to equity. 

Dr. Jamillah Moore has become known for her passion for educational excellence, commitment to students, and tackling difficult issues.  Her work examines the intersection of race, access, and institutional failure.  Her research on affirmative action and college admissions has been recognized by professional organizations and garnered praise from higher education leaders and activists.  She has consulted with college systems and policymaking organizations in California and Washington D.C. on educational policy issues.  She was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the California Student Aid Commission and served as Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2019-2021.  

Focused and committed describes Dr. Moore’s contributions to higher education.  Among her awards and honors, she is the recipient of the 2014 California State University, Channel Islands African American in Higher Education Achievement Award and the 2018 National Coalition Of 100 Black Women Educator of the Year Award.  She was also named the 2020, California State University, Sacramento Distinguished Alumni recognizing her for her outstanding achievement in the field of education and support for students.

Dr. Moore has published articles, book chapters and other publications, and her work has appeared in Psychology Today and Diverse Issues in Higher Education.  A social justice advocate to her core, Dr. Moore’s book, Race and College Admission: A Case for Affirmative Action (McFarland, 2022), examines the policy of affirmative action and its impact on college admissions. Her research into the policy gives voice to the need for affirmative action and shares the stories of students and colleges who have benefitted from the policy.

Dr. Moore also served as vice-chancellor of Educational Services and Planning at the San Mateo Community College District, chancellor of the Ventura Community College District, president of Los Angeles City College, interim superintendent president of Compton Community College and senior vice chancellor for Governmental and External Relations for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. She spent a decade as a legislative staffer and policy analyst in the California State Senate and is a former director of Governmental Relations for the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Dr. Moore holds two degrees from California State University, Sacramento: a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a master’s degree in Intercultural Communication and Public Policy. She also earned a doctorate from the University of San Francisco in International and Multicultural Education.


Dr. Karin Edwards is currently President of the Clark College, where she is responsible for providing vision and strategic direction for the college. As the chief executive officer, she has oversight for all programmatic, instructional, financial and student support services. Dr. Edwards is very active in community outreach and engagement, and workforce development. She plays a critical role in creating promising pathways for students and ensuring equitable student success. Before arriving in Portland in 2014, Dr. Edwards worked in the Connecticut and New York State Community College systems.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Education Administration both from the State University of New York at Albany. She also earned a doctorate in Education Leadership from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Edwards has over 35 years of experience in higher education administration and has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the mission of community colleges, which has three primary areas of focus. Community colleges provide access to quality education and training, promote economic and community development, and respond to local and regional workforce needs. Equity is also inherent in the mission of community colleges. Dr. Edwards has championed diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout her career.

Karin is a native New Yorker, born and raised in the South Bronx. For leisure, she enjoys reading, attending cultural events, exploring the Pacific Northwest, and dining out at the fantastic restaurants. She also enjoys giving back to her community by serving on various boards.

As a long-time educator, she has witnessed the transformational power that community colleges have in the lives of students and in the communities they serve.


Dr. Helen Benjamin is the former Chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District (District) and spent 27 years as an employee of the District. She began her career at the District in 1990 when she joined Los Medanos College as Dean of Language Arts and Humanistic Studies and Related Occupations, and has held progressively higher level positions including District Vice Chancellor, Educational Programs and Services, interim President of Los Medanos College and President of Contra Costa College.

Dr. Benjamin has a B.S. degree in English and Spanish from Bishop College in Texas where she graduated magna cum laude and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. She has never lost sight of her roots as a teacher, having taught high school English in the Dallas Independent School District and looks for opportunities to turn challenges into teachable moments.

Dr. Benjamin is passionate about maintaining an active role in a wide variety of professional and community organizations. She serves as a board member of the Kennedy-King Scholarship Memorial College Scholarship Fund, a county-wide effort to provide District students financial support to continue their educational goals at a four-year or graduate institution. At the state level, Dr. Benjamin has served as Chair of the Community College League of California Board of Directors, Chair of the CEO board, and on numerous accreditation visiting teams. At the national level, she has served on the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors, as the convener of the Presidents’ Round Table, an affiliate organization of the National Council on Black American Affairs, and currently serves on the board of Excelsior College, located in Albany, New York. She is co-author of the recently released book on leadership with Darroch Young entitled: Harvest from the Vineyard: Lessons Learned from the Vineyard Symposiums and co-editor and contributor to The Chocolate Truth: An Anthology of Perspectives from Community College CEOs.


Dr. Ed Bush is an innovative leader that has been able to reimagine traditional institutional practices. His innovative approach, including the implementation of guided pathways, has led to improvement of student outcomes while reducing gaps in achievement for students of color and other historically marginalized student populations. Dr. Bush is a student success focused leader with a clear vision and data driven expertise in leading organizations through periods of change and structural disruption designed to meet the evolving needs of students and the communities in which they serve.

With over 22 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Bush’s leadership experience further includes his involvement on statewide committees and initiatives. He currently serves as the Area 2 representative for the California Community College League CEO Board, CEO Representative for the state’s Chancellor Office Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee as well as the Chancellor’s Office Student Success Metrics Taskforce. Dr. Bush is a founding member of (A2MEND), African American Male Educational Network & Development Inc. Through his leadership (A2MEND) is a nationally recognized non-profit dedicated to improving the educational outcomes for African American men and other men of color enrolled in the California Community College system.

Dr. Bush holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Claremont Graduate University in Urban Educational Leadership. Prior to his position as College President, Dr. Bush served as a tenured associate faculty member in Student Life and Leadership, Director of the Educational Talent Search federal TRIO grant, Dean of Student Services and Vice President of Student Services. Dr. Bush is a scholar practitioner and has served as an adjunct faculty member for several graduate programs. Moreover, Dr. Bush is the co-authorship of 2 books, 2 book chapters, and 12 peer reviewed publications appearing in a variety of journals. Dr. Bush is considered one of the preeminent change agents leading on issues relating to equity, diversity, student success and leadership with the California Community College System.


Dr. Ajani 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 the California community college system at Foothill College, where he currently serves as the Senior Diversity Officer and Dean of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. 

Prior to Foothill College, Dr. Byrd served in a variety of roles within the West Valley-Mission Community College District.  Positions included Acting Dean of Student Equity and Success at West Valley College where he provided leadership and oversight over nine student success units and learning communities.  During his time at WVC, Dr. Byrd was instrumental in furthering the college’s goal of becoming an anti-racist campus that values inclusion and diversity by leading initiatives devoted to exploring the racial history of the college, identifying inequities in the student conduct process, and unearthing student engagement shortfalls through a disaggregated data analysis lens. 

Dr. Byrd previously served as the Interim Dean of Language Arts and Director of Extended Opportunity Programs and Services 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.  Preceding his time on community college campuses, Dr. Byrd served as a Post-Doctorate Fellow at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, a Research and Assessment Assistant at Loyola University Chicago, and Program Director at San Francisco State University.


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 Doctorate of Philosophy 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.


Dr. Dyrell Foster has been an administrator in the California Community College system for over 20 years. He is a student-centered leader, with a proven track record of advancing educational access, equity, student retention and success.  He is collaborative in his approach to implementing institutional practices, behaviors, and policies that provide a positive climate on campus and effectively addresses the diverse needs of students.  

As President of Las Positas College, Dr. Foster is committed to providing strong leadership with a high degree of integrity, passion, and commitment to fully serving our students in a growing and supportive community. Dr. Foster is passionate about cultivating effective partnerships and promoting innovative approaches to enhancing student success outcomes for the students at Las Positas College.

Previously, Dr. Foster served as the Vice President of Student Services at Moreno Valley College; Dean of Student Affairs at Rio Hondo College; Associate Dean of Counseling and Director of Student Life at Mt. San Antonio College; Director of Student Life at Evergreen Valley College; and Activities Coordinator at San Jose State University.  In addition, Dr. Foster has served as a part-time lecturer in the College of Education at both, California State University, Long Beach and California State University, Fullerton.  

Being the first in his family to attend college, Dr. Foster received his Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Southern California, his Master of Science in Counseling: Student Development in Higher Education from California State University, Long Beach, and his Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavioral Science from the University of California, Davis, where he served as co-captain of the UC Davis Aggies football team.  He and his wife, Tami, have two children, Maylea and Daylen.


Oyame KenZoe Brian J. Selassie-Okpe, Ph.D (O’KenZoe) is a diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racist and social justice (DEIA&S) practitioner with over two decades of experience consulting and leading municipalities, federal agencies, and nonprofits in DEIA&S work. Presently, he serves as the Executive Director of the Equity Institute at Skyline College. 

In his career prior to academia, he served as a communications officer in the Executive Office of the Mayor in Washington D.C. as well as the Chief Grants and Contracts Management Officer for the D.C. Department of the Environment. His consulting experience spans throughout the government sector in DEIA&S, community relations, grants and resource development, and budget and operations to assist nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, educational institutions, think-tank and research groups, quasi-government and government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations in achieving their desired goals. 

Dr. Selassie-Okpe is a 2016-2017 Fulbright-Hays Research Study Abroad scholarship recipient. He is the former concurrent Dean, School of English, World Languages and Cultures, and Communication Studies; Dean, School of Fine, Applied, and Communication Arts; and Advisory Resource committee member to the Diversity Committee and Black Student Union at City College of San Francisco. 

Dr. Selassie-Okpe has served as editor of Dr. Molefi K. Asante’s 2019 publication: 400 Years of Witnessing alongside writing his own book chapter and journal publications.

Dr. Selassie-Okpe earned an Executive Certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from Cornell University’s e-Cornell Executive Program, Doctorate of Philosophy in Communication and Culture from Howard University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from the University of Mount Union.