Dear Union Family,
Thank you for your support in our recent Guild election. It was a long campaign, but now that the votes have been counted, it’s time for us to come together as one cohesive union and get to work on the transformative work we do.
Being elected as your president is truly an extraordinary moment for me. I am a product of the community college system, so I understand what many of our students go through. I come from a disadvantaged background. It took me nine years to graduate from Los Angeles Valley College. My parents were alcoholics, and my father was a drug addict and dealer. Neither of them went to college. There was a lot of violence in our home. I had a son while still in high school, and to support him, I moved out of my home at eighteen and got a job at McDonald’s. Community College gave me the opportunity for a better future for myself and my family, and I am eternally thankful to the faculty at LAVC who helped and inspired me. Were it not for them, I wouldn’t be here now as Dr. James McKeever, your union’s President.
I’m excited to take on this new role. I am grateful for the trust that you have placed in me. Together with our re-elected Executive Vice President Bill Elarton-Selig, and our newly-elected Treasurer Xiao Behlendorf and Secretary Jennifer Galvez, we will work hard to make us a more transparent and responsive union.
I also want to extend thanks to our outgoing team, President Joanne Waddell, Treasurer Sharon Hendricks, and Secretary Mindy Chen, for their hard work and dedication to our guild.
As I outlined during my campaign, I see my role and that of our board as a movement for change, with four distinct pillars: community, respect, social justice, and collective bargaining and contract enforcement.
One of my top priorities will be forcing the District to take a holistic approach to enrollments. They need to stop balancing the budget on our backs and take the necessary steps to improve the educational environment of our students. Together we will hold the District accountable for providing the working conditions that we need and the learning environment our students deserve. We need to work as a cohesive and powerful force to accomplish this.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to rebuild the community. I want to foster open conversation and build a culture that will encourage cooperation on campus, between campuses, and with other community members. It’s a tall order, especially considering the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s difficult to have meaningful contact with our students, let alone with each other when we haven’t been able to see each other face-to-face. The more we connect, the more we understand that we’re all in this together, trying to do what’s best for our students, creating better services and working environments for all of us, and fighting for better wages and benefits.
As a measure of transparency and accountability, I am committed to conducting a State of our Union address every semester. During those addresses, I will discuss issues we are working on and future priorities. I will invite questions, comments, and yes, criticism because it’s important to be self-reflective, to have the ability to listen to other viewpoints, to learn from our critics and to turn these moments into opportunities to be better.
We are excited to work on many other plans in the days, weeks, and months ahead. For now, the entire team is ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work for you and with you. The road ahead will be difficult, but I am confident that together we can make meaningful change and bring the community back to community college.