Leadership on the Line: Sparking Action for Equity in Higher Education

January 16th
4:00-6:00 p.m. PST

Leadership on the Line: Sparking Action for Equity in Higher Education featured the recently appointed Chancellors of the California Community College and California State University (CSU) systems, Dr. Sonya Christian and Dr. Mildred Garcia, along with University of California (UC) President Dr. Michael V. Drake, for an intimate conversation on the importance of California’s public higher education systems, their efforts to close racial equity gaps, improve coordination and transfer between institutions, and strengthen the state’s economy and workforce. 

Additionally, these leaders reacted to our much-anticipated report, Still Left Out: How Exclusion in California’s Colleges & Universities Continues to Hurt Our Values, Students and Democracy. Still Left Out re-examines the issue of racial/ethnic and gender representation in leadership across California’s public colleges and universities, undertaking a comprehensive review of system, district, and campus-level leadership, faculty, and academic senate bodies.


Edward Bush, President of Cosumnes College, offered remarks to open the program, sharing the imperative of improving the representation of Latinx, Black, Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NHPI), and American Indian/Alaska Native Californians in higher education leadership. Then, we heard from Mayra Lombera of the Michelson 20MM Foundation as she highlighted the role of philanthropic partners in supporting these efforts that advance college access and success for minoritized students. 

Edward Bush, Ph.D.

President, Cosumnes College

Mayra Lombera

Chief Operating Officer, Michelson 20MM Foundation

Student Presentations

Three students shared their stories about the importance of finding representation in California higher education leadership and shared key findings from Still Left Out.

Casey Chang

Student Member, California Community College Board of Governors

Autumn Alaniz-Wiggins

Student Body President, California State University, Chico

Carlos Rodriguez

Student, University of California, Los Angeles

Panelist Discussion

Executive Vice President Jessie Ryan and President Michele Siqueiros engaged system leaders Dr. Michael V. Drake, Dr. Sonya Christian, and Dr. Mildred Garcia, to discuss how they are prioritizing representation across leadership and faculty at the University of California, California Community Colleges, and California State University. Leaders also discussed the disparities highlighted in the data and solutions to ensure that California higher education leadership truly reflects the rich diversity of our students and state.

Jessie Ryan

Executive Vice President

Michael V. Drake, Ph.D.

President, University of California

Sonya Christian, Ph.D.

Chancellor, California Community Colleges

Closing Remarks

Thomas A. Saenz, Chair of our Board of Directors closed out this conversation with parting words about the impetus to advance racial/ethnic and gender equity in college leadership.

Thomas Saenz, J.D.

President & Senior Counsel, MALDEF