Advancing Higher Education Equity Speaker Series

The Campaign for College Opportunity is proud to announce our five-part Advancing Higher Education Equity Speaker Series.

Join us in conversation with California’s higher education change makers and equity champions to discuss the most pressing issues in California higher education today against the backdrop of a global health pandemic, economic recession, and urgent calls to address racial inequity.

Advancing Higher Education Equity Speaker Series

Committing to Transfer as a Key Racial Equity Strategy

November 19, 2020
10:30 am – 12 pm PST

Secretary of State
Alex Padilla

Marc Berman

In the last ten years, the California Community Colleges have awarded students over 200,000 Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADT) – a degree that provides a streamlined pathway between the state’s community colleges and the CSU system. With a focus on transfer as a racial equity strategy for degree completion, even more students can earn an ADT, reducing time and cost to reach their college goals. Join us in conversation with policymakers ready to prioritize transfer via the ADT and to honor campuses excelling in awarding ADTs.



Upcoming Events in the Series

Celebrating Sixteen Years of Advancing Racial Equity in College Opportunity and Setting the Stage for What’s Next

For our 16th anniversary, we are inviting California’s higher education system leaders to sit down with us and discuss the challenges and opportunities before our state to close racial equity gaps in college access and success. As we commit to joining together to advance college opportunity, we will celebrate the Campaign for College Opportunity’s Sweet Sixteen with a festive virtual reception.

Want to sponsor one or more of the events in our Advancing Higher Education Equity Speaker Series?

Please contact Stacey Holderbach for more details.


Past Events in the Series

A Conversation with California’s Lieutenant Governor

A Conversation with California’s Lieutenant Governor

Earlier this month, we had the honor of partnering with the California State Student Association to host California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis to kick-off our Advancing Higher Education Equity Speaker Series. Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis discussed highlights of her work on the University of California (UC) Board of Regents and California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees, as well as her vision for protecting and expanding college opportunity during this critical time when a college degree is the most powerful guard against unemployment. The Lieutenant Governor was also honored for being an ardent higher education champion committed to racial equity and to protecting and expanding access at the CSU and UC. You can watch the recording here or below.

Cal State Student Association
Thank you to the Cal State Student Association for partnering with us for this event!

Women in Higher Education Leadership

In October, we had the honor of hosting trailblazing woomen leaders serving on California public higher education governing boards to discuss their critical roles in advancing policies that eliminate racial inequity at the UC, CSU and California Community Colleges, and why racial/ethnic and gender diverse appointments are key to change. Read the panelists’ bios here.

Maria AnguianoPanel Moderator
Maria Anguiano
University of California
Board of Regents

Featured panelists:

Lande Ajose
Higher Education Advisor
Office of Governor
Gavin Newsom
Cecilia Estolano Cecilia Estolano
Vice Chair
University of California
Board of Regents
Pamela Haynes Pamela Haynes
Vice President
California Community Colleges
Board of Governors
Lillian Kimbell
California State University
Board of Trustees
Lark Park Lark Park
University of California
Board of Regents
Lateefah Simon
California State University
Board of Trustees


Racial Equity on the Ballot

On October 19th, we discussed Propositions 15 and 16, ballot initiatives that reinvest in our schools and end a legacy of legal discrimination in contracting, hiring and university admissions that has left too many talented Black, Latinx, Native American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Californians behind. Thank you to Alliance for A Better Community and the UC Student Association for partnering with us for this event!

2019 Legislative Dean’s List

On Wednesday, January 8, 2020, the Campaign opened the New Year with our inaugural Legislative Dean’s List celebration, honoring seven policy champions in the fight to achieve greater college opportunity for all California students. Our 2019 Dean’s List honorees are exemplary leaders in crafting student-centered policy in pursuit of increasing college affordability, undocumented student support, higher education coordination, and racial equity.
We are incredibly grateful to have partners that truly stand for college access and success for all Californians. The determination of our seven honorees not only pushes the needle for bold policy, but also sets the path for other policymakers to create an equitable higher education system that can empower and support California’s diverse student population.
The following individuals received distinctions for their commitment to increasing college opportunity:

Distinction in College Affordability

(L-R): Campaign President Michele Siqueiros, Senator Connie Leyva, and award co-presenter Danny Thirakul.

Senator Richard Roth

Distinction in Statewide Higher Ed Leadership

Assemblymember Evan Low

(L-R): Campaign Senior Policy & Program Associate Katrina Linden, Assemblymember Low, and Senator Ben Allen

Distinction in Undocumented Student Support

L-R: President Michele Siqueiros, Assemblymember Monique Limón, and award co-presenter Iris (CHIRLA)

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel

Distinction in Student-Centered Policy

Kimberly Rodriguez (Legislative Director, Office of
Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins)
and President Michele Siqueiros

We also invited the student organizations who guided policymakers to assist us in honoring our education leaders. Our student co-presenters included:

Danny Thirakul, President of the Student Senate of the California Community Colleges to award Senator Connie Leyva
Varsha Sarveshwar, President of the University of California Student Association to award Senator Richard Roth
Grace Pang, Vice President of Legislative Student Affairs at the Cal State Student Association to award Assemblymember Evan Low and Senator Ben Allen
Iris, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) to award Assemblymembers Monique Limón and Jesse Gabriel

View the photo gallery

2019 Legislative Dean's List

Cheers to 15 Years: 2019 Champions of Higher Education

On Thursday, November 14th, we had the great pleasure of hosting our annual Champions of Higher Education celebration and toasting to 15 Years of Making College Dreams a Reality. With powerful speeches delivered by our honorees and testimonies given by students who’ve earned their Associate Degrees for Transfer, it was a truly unforgettable night.

We were proud to recognize our honorees, who have been exemplary leaders in creating a higher education system that truly serves California’s diverse students.


2019 Honorees

Students Making a Change
Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor of California
Honorable Alex Padilla
California Secretary of State
Dr. Silas H. Abrego
CSU Trustee



Lena Carew, accepting the Honor Roll Award on behalf of the student-led organization, Students Making A Change (SMAC)

Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) student honorees giving their testimonies & presenting Secretary Alex Padilla with an award. (L-R: Giselle Tarango (CSUF), Violeta Zamora (CSULA), and Autumn Lewis (CSLUB).)

Secretary of State Alex Padilla, instrumental in developing & championing the ADT, giving a heartfelt speech about the success of the ADT & college access regardless of citizenship status.

Dr. Silas H. Abrego, champion of racial equity and student success throughout his long-time career as an administrator and CSU Trustee.

ADT students with Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Our team!

Anniversary Videos

Watch our 15th anniversary video and a message from Governor Gavin Newsom.


Thank you to our event sponsors!


View More Photos

2019 Champions of Higher Education Celebration

Celebrating 15 Years: Hope on the Horizon

This year, we embarked on our 15th year of making college dreams a reality for all California students. In August, we held our second annual Hope on the Horizon event in Sacramento, where we celebrated our milestones along with California higher education leaders, advocates, honorees, & supporters. We continue to be inspired by our honorees, who are exemplary figures that support student success. Our honorees included:

Ricardo Lara

California State Insurance Commissioner

Jacqui Irwin

44th District

Eloy Ortiz Oakley

California Community
Colleges Chancellor

David Wolf

Campaign for College
Opportunity Co-Founder

Jack Scott

Former California
State Legislator

Abdi Soltani

Executive Director of ACLU
Northern California

We had a great time reminiscing with our partners & discussing the future of higher education in California. Check out photos of the celebration  below!

California Community Colleges Board of Governors Member Alexis Zaragoza accepts the Equity Disruptor Award on behalf of Chancellor Eloy Ortiz-Oakley.

Honorees reflect on the Campaign’s history of policy reform in California higher education.

LessThan3, student musicians from San Joaquin Delta College and University of the Pacific.

Nadia Paniagua, mentee of David Wolf, accepts the Visionary Leadership Award on behalf of Campaign Co-Founder David Wolf.

Our Sponsors

It’s been a year of wins and reflection, and we would not have come this far without the generosity of our partners. Thank you to our 15th anniversary event sponsors whose generous contributions allow us to continue our work to make college dreams come true.


View More Photos

Hope on the Horizon

2018 Champions of Higher Education Celebration

2018 Champions of Higher Education Celebration

Our third annual Champions of Higher Education celebration highlighted the exemplary efforts of California leaders and institutions to improve student success. This year we honored:

2018 Champions of Higher Education for Excellence in Transfer

12 Community Colleges and 4 California State Universities are honored for their excellence in implementing the Associate Degree for Transfer

Learn more about our 2018 college and university honorees.

Unsung Hero

Alfred Herrera | Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Partnerships, UCLA

Rising Star

Jorge Reyes Salinas | Former California State University Student Trustee

Rising Star

Alexa Victoriano | Former Los Angeles Community College District Student Trustee

Legislative Champion

Holly Mitchell | California State Senator 


Change Maker

Reach Higher, an initiative of former First Lady Michelle Obama


To view photos from the evening, click here.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Master Sponsors


Baccalaureate Sponsors


Hope on the Horizon: Charting a Course for Student Success

Hope on the Horizon
On November 13th, the Campaign for College Opportunity hosted our inaugural Hope on the Horizon: Charting a Course for Student Success celebration at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, where we hosted higher education partners from across California for an evening of celebration and reflection on the past year of higher education policy. The evening was also an opportunity for community members to gather as we honored California Attorney General Xavier Becerra; UC Immigrant Legal Services Executive Director, Maria Blanco; California Community Colleges Board of Governors Vice President, Pamela Haynes, and three California Community College and California State University student leaders for their extraordinary work in serving and supporting California students.

Labor and civil rights activist, Dolores Huerta kicked off the evening presenting the 2018 Change Maker award to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Becerra, a son of immigrants and the first in his family to attend college reflected on his journey through the higher education system in California as a Latino and looked ahead at the work to be done to support Californians like himself pursuing a higher education. Unsung Hero Maria Blanco called on the urgency to serve and support the state’s undocumented and DACAmented students, while Pamela Haynes called on the need to invest in the success of all students, regardless of income or ethnicity. We closed out the evening with a spoken word performance from UC Davis student Malissia Bordeaux, who spoke on the barriers to college opportunity and the doors her degree as a Black student will open. You can watch the celebration and all of the speeches below.

Official Reception Sponsor

Benefactor Sponsors


Patron Sponsors



Invest in Success Advocacy Day

Click here to view all photos.

 Location: California State Capitol

The Campaign for College Opportunity and The Education Trust—West, in coalition with eighteen civil rights, student, business, education, and community organizations, met with legislators at the State Capitol to advocate for a student centered funding formula at California Community Colleges.

A student centered funding formula seeks to incorporate the tenets of Vision for Success in community college district budgeting and planning, as well as in how the Chancellor’s Office can support districts’ efforts to set and realize their own specific goals to improve student outcomes. Aligning resources for the California Community Colleges with the Vision for Success–at the system, district, and college level–is a necessary step towards ensuring that the vision comes to fruition.

Changing Faces: The Case for Diversity and Inclusivity in Higher Education Leadership

Our latest report, “Left Out: How Exclusion in California’s Colleges and Universities Hurts Our Values, Our Students and our Economy, analyzes faculty, academic senates, and college leaders by race and gender for the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California. In conjunction with the report, we presented “Changing Faces,” a series of conversations across the state to share the report findings and discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in California’s higher education leadership.

We hosted an event for each of the three systems of California higher education to engage in robust conversations about potential solutions and opportunities for change.

Changing Faces at the University of California

Changing Faces at the California Community Colleges 

Changing Faces at the California State Universities

2018 Basic Skills Capitol Conversation


Click here to view all photos.

Location: California State Capitol

The Campaign for College Opportunity, the California EDGE Coalition, and the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office hosted a joint briefing on Basic Skills implementation and innovations throughout the California Community College System. Representatives from Cuyamaca College, Sacramento City College, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, and the California Acceleration Project joined the conversation around high impact practices in implementing basic skills programming as well as the challenges that large scale implementation presents.