Diversity in community college faculty and leadership: Why it Matters

Achieving a diverse faculty that comes close to matching the diversity of the students they teach is a major goal of California’s public universities. But the faculty-student diversity gap remains unacceptably large, including at California’s community colleges, by far the largest system of higher education in the United States.

This in-depth discussion sponsored by EdSource in partnership with Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research examined what California’s community colleges are doing to increase the diversity of their faculty and leadership, why it matters and what more needs to be done. Please scroll down for more information about our speakers and additional resources on this topic.




Julianna Barnes

President, Cuyamaca College, Aspen Institute New Presidents Fellow

Julianna Barnes is the president of Cuyamaca College in San Diego, a position she has held since October 2015. With an educational career spanning nearly three decades, Julianna is known for her inclusive leadership and deep commitment to student success and equity. In her tenure as president, she led the creation of a new strategic plan, which emphasizes equity-minded student success and promotes a learning environment that validates students’ social and cultural realities.

Developmental education reform has been central to these strategic efforts and has resulted in significant increases in access to and completion of college-level math and English. Under her leadership, Cuyamaca College was recently recognized nationally by Excelencia in Education and was awarded the John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award in the California Community Colleges.

Prior to her presidency, Julianna held various leadership positions, including chief student services officer for 5 years and dean for 11 years in several California community colleges. She also served as an affiliate doctoral faculty member of San Diego State University and serves on the board for the Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges.

She received her doctor of education in educational leadership with a community college specialization and a master of arts in education/multicultural counseling from San Diego State University, plus a bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of California, San Diego. She holds a black belt in karate and uses the martial art’s tenets of respect, courage, and balance to guide her personal and professional life.

Edward Bush

President, Cosumnes River College

Edward Bush has over 20 years of experience in higher education with 17 of those years in the California Community College system. Bush currently serves as the President of Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. 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. Bush has also worked as an adjunct instructor for the Graduate School of Education at the University of Redlands and Brandman University. Bush has taught courses in student development, organizational theory, and research.

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 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.

Bush is scholar-practitioner, thus has co-authored 2 books, 2 book chapters, 8 peer reviewed publications, and the author of the NCII Equity Guide on fostering faculty diversity.

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.

Find him on social media here:

Instagram: ebush411
YouTube: Edward C. Bush phd

Daisy Gonzales

Deputy Chancellor, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, Diversity Equity and Inclusion Taskforce

Deputy Chancellor Daisy Gonzales, a former foster youth who was among the first in her family to attend college, is a role model for the next generation of California’s higher education professionals, and Latina leaders in particular. As deputy chancellor, Gonzales is responsible for coordinating the divisions of Educational Services and Support, Student, Workforce and Economic Development, the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (IEPI) and Digital Innovation and Infrastructure (DII).

Her primary duties, however, involve implementing and tracking the commitments and goals outlined in California Community Colleges’ Vision for Success that seeks to demolish achievement gaps, boost transfers to University of California and California State University campuses and provide Californians with the necessary job skills to find good-paying careers.

Gonzales developed her reverence for education after being inspired by her K-12 teachers. After earning a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Mills College, she decided to pass that passion on by taking a job as a third-grade teacher. Later, a conversation with a homeless student during her time as a lecturer at UC Santa Barbara helped her realize her true calling of promoting access and support for underserved students.

Prior to joining the Chancellor’s Office, Gonzales was the principal consultant for the Assembly Appropriations Committee. In that role, she was responsible for subject matter expertise, analysis and political strategy in the areas of higher education, K-12 education and jobs and economic development. As associate director of PACE, an acronym for Policy Analysis for California Education, Gonzales was responsible for presentations and briefings at statewide task forces, technical advisory committees and state Board of Education meetings.

Other previous posts include serving as a budget consultant for the California State Assembly Budget Committee, where she was responsible for overseeing $11.2 billion in state and federal funds and negotiating the state Assembly’s funding priorities for 45 state departments, boards and commissions.

In addition to her bachelor’s degree in public policy from Mills College, Gonzales has a master’s degree and Ph.D. in sociology from UC Santa Barbara.

Jeffrey Hernandez

Academic Senate President and Professor of Political Science East Los Angeles College

Jeffrey Hernandez has been a Professor of Political Science at his alma mater East Los Angeles College (ELAC) since 1997. During his tenure, he has served two stints as a department vice chair for his discipline and as an advisor for three different clubs. He specializes in teaching American politics and International Relations.

Hernandez has been the ELAC Academic Senate President since 2017 after serving 10 years as its Vice President.  During more than 13 years of experience in local academic senate leadership, he has guided his college on institutional planning and policy development as the faculty co-chair of the ELAC Shared Governance Council, Program Review and Viability Committee, Educational Planning Subcommittee, Academic Senate Legislative Liaison Committee, and Budget Committee. Throughout this period, Hernandez has been a member of his District Academic Senate and District Budget Committee, serving a stint as the faculty co-chair of the latter. Since spring 2019, he has worked for the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges as a Guided Pathways Faculty Lead.

His work on Guided Pathways and equity has been his most rewarding as an academic senate leader. As Faculty Co-Chair of the ELAC Guided Pathways Steering Committee and Student Equity and Achievement Program Advisory Committee, Hernandez has facilitated a leadership role for his academic senate on redesigning the college to remove barriers to completion faced by many students, particularly disproportionately-impacted students. This work has extended to the ELAC Academic Senate’s advocacy for student-centered enrollment as well as its recent adoption of a resolution call to action against systemic racism and oppression.

While Jeffrey Hernandez is a strong advocate of Guided Pathways, he also appreciates the virtue of the open access, tuition-free community college experience he had as a student at East Los Angeles College in the fall 1982.  After earning his AA at East Los Angeles College, he transferred to UCLA and got a BA in Political Science and then went to rival USC where he obtained a Master of Public Administration.  While working for the City of Long Beach, Jeffrey began his teaching career with a U.S. Government course at Long Beach City College. Soon after, he left local government and joined the Political Science PhD program at UCLA while, at the same, returning to East Los Angeles College to teach American politics and International Relations. Eventually, he left the life of research to begin a career as a community college professor. On his spare time, he enjoys having fun with his family, reading mysteries, and listening to music.

Francisco Rodriguez

Chancellor, Los Angeles Community College District

Francisco Rodriguez is the chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the nation with nine accredited colleges, over 250,000 students enrolled, and an annual budget of $5.8 billion.

Appointed chancellor of the District in 2014, Rodriguez has worked to raise the District’s profile and improve its reputation as the best urban community college district in the nation. To accomplish this, Rodriguez has charted a course that includes well-prepared and innovative faculty, state-of-the-art facilities and instructional equipment, superbly trained and professional support staff, and business and community engagement. During his tenure, Chancellor Rodriguez led the efforts to pass a $3.3 billion local facilities bond in 2016 and the hiring of close to five-hundred full-time faculty.

A noted scholar and education activist, Rodriguez has 30 years of experience as an educator, faculty member, and administrator within California public higher education. Rodriguez has dedicated his career to high quality public education and championing diversity, equity and inclusion, and outreach to underserved communities. In particular, Rodriguez has focused his career on educational policies that expand access to higher education and financial aid, tireless advocacy for undocumented students and student-veterans, and the leadership development of young Latino and African American males. He frequently speaks on the topics of higher education, student access and success, governance and governing boards, workforce development, fundraising and philanthropy, and community.

From 2003-2014, Rodriguez served as president of Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California, and superintendent/president of MiraCosta Community College District, respectively. His leadership at both institutions was marked by increased student enrollments, the diversification of faculty, students and administration more representative of the students served, increased support for student success, increased endowments, and robust university, business and community engagement.

Rodriguez serves as chair of the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for the Directorate of Education and Human Resources; director of the Board of Higher Education and Workforce of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; president of the California Association of Latino Community College Trustees and Administrators Association (CALCCTA); and is an appointee of California Governor Jerry Brown to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). He is also the past president of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association (U.C. Davis) and director of the U.C. Davis Foundation Board.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Rodriguez attended the University of California, Davis, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies and his master’s degree in community development. He received his Ph.D. in education from Oregon State University, and serves as a lecturer in the doctoral education programs at Sacramento State University and at San Diego State University.

Having received numerous awards and recognitions from local, state and national organizations for his servant leadership and dedicated service, Rodriguez is a first-generation, English-language learner, and proud son of immigrant factory workers. He credits his parents for instilling a strong work ethic and a tuned moral compass.

Rodriguez is married to Irma, a faculty member at Sacramento City College. His two children are also educators: Andres, an ethnic studies professor at San Jose City College; and Angelica, a fourth-grade teacher at the San Francisco Unified School District.

Gerardo Chavez

Region IX Regional Affairs Director, Student Senate for California Community Colleges

Gerardo Chavez is a first-generation student and immigrant from El Salvador. He is enrolled at Riverside City College and majoring in History. Currently, Gerardo serves as the Regional Affairs Director for Region IX of Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

He is also a member of the Institutional Success for People of Color Task Force, which developed the Student Senate’s anti-racism action plan.

His experience as an immigrant fueled his passion for student equity and advocacy and he strives to provide a support system for the underrepresented communities.

Ashley A. Smith

Panel Moderator; Reporter, EdSource

Ashley A. Smith covered community colleges, for-profit schools and non-traditional students for Inside Higher Ed. She joined the publication in 2015 after covering government and K-12 education for the Fort Myers News-Press in Florida for three years. Ashley also covered K-12 and higher education for three years at the Marshfield News-Herald in Wisconsin. She has interned with The Flint Journal, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. Ashley grew up in Detroit and is a 2008 graduate of Michigan State University. She joined EdSource in July 2019.

Louis Freedberg

Panel Moderator; Executive Director, EdSource

Louis Freedberg joined EdSource as executive director in July 2011. For more than two decades, Freedberg has analyzed and reported on local, state, and national education policy issues. Before coming to EdSource, Freedberg was the founding director and senior education reporter at California Watch, a pioneering nonprofit journalism venture.

He was also a founder of the California Media Collaborative, based at the Commonwealth Club of California. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was an award-winning education reporter, Washington correspondent, columnist, and member of the editorial board.

He has served as an executive director of several nonprofit organizations, including Youth News in Oakland. He also directed youth programs at Pacific News Service/New America Media. A South African by birth, he founded and directed the Institute for a New South Africa. Freedberg has been a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, a Visiting Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington D.C., and a Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in developmental psychology from Yale University.