Committee Members

Sonya Christian | President | Bakersfield College

An advocate for continued education across social and economic boundaries, Dr. Sonya Christian has worked tirelessly to uphold and further that mission during her tenure as Bakersfield College President.
Christian began her three-decade career in education at BC in 1991, first as a math faculty member and later as division chair, then Dean of Science, Engineering, Allied Health and Mathematics. In 2003, Christian joined Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon as associate vice president for instruction, then vice president of academic and student affairs and chief academic officer. Christian returned home in 2013 after being selected as the 10th President in Bakersfield College’s prestigious history. Under her leadership, Christian has maintained the institution’s 100-plus year history of quality instruction while shepherding BC through an exciting phase of expanded opportunities for current and future students.
In 2016, Christian was named "Woman of the Year" by California Assemblyman Rudy Salas for her accomplishments at Bakersfield College. She was also named Woman of the year by the kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (2016); educator of the year by the Delano Chamber of Commerce (2018) Christian currently serves as Vice Chair and Commissioner on the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). Christian serves on numerous boards including the: - Campaign for College Opportunity - Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce - Homeless Shelter Board in Bakersfield Christian earned her bachelor of science degree from University of Kerala in Kerala, India; a master of science in applied mathematics from University of Southern California; and her doctorate from University of California, Los Angeles.

Bonnie Ann Dowd, Ed. D. | Executive Vice Chancellor, Business and Technology Services | San Diego Community College District

Bonnie began her career in the California Community College System as an adjunct faculty member teaching in the Business Education Department at Palomar College. A year later she accepted a tenure track faculty position, which she served in for nearly 17 years. In addition to her classroom work at Palomar, Bonnie served in various faculty leadership positions. During her last six years at Palomar, she served as the Vice President, Finance and Administrative Services. Prior to leaving Palomar to accept her current position at San Diego Community College District, Bonnie was granted Professor Emeritus status by the Faculty Senate.
Bonnie possesses an Ed. D. in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego, an MBA in Financial Management, a BBA in Accounting, and an AAS in Business. All of her education was completed as a part-time student while working full-time over a span of 20 years. She is a licensed Certified Management Accountant (CMA), holds a Lifetime Community College Teaching Credential in several areas of instruction; and, earned a Distance Education Coordinator certificate from California Virtual Campus Statewide Rural Regional Center (CVC4). At the state system level, Bonnie serves on the Board of the Association of Chief Business Officials (ACBO) for the California Community Colleges, which represents the 73 districts, 115 colleges of the California Community College System in regard to business and financial matters. She is a Past President of ACBO and has served on the board for 12 years. She also serves on the Board of the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA). She is the chair of the System Chancellor’s Workgroup on Fiscal Affairs, which is an advisory workgroup to the State Chancellor on all fiscal related matters.

Ann-Marie Gabel | Vice Chancellor of Business Services | South Orange County Community College District

Ann-Marie Gabel, CPA has over 28 years working with or for community colleges in California. Since February 2018, Ms. Gabel works for the South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) as the Vice Chancellor of Business Services, along with a brief stint as the Interim Chancellor. Previous to SOCCCD, she worked for Long Beach City College (LBCC) for 11 years, where she last served as the Executive Vice President of Finance, Facilities, and Technology Services. During her tenure at LBCC, she served as the Vice President of Administrative Services, Interim Vice President of Student Support Services and Acting Superintendent-President. Previously, she worked in the fiscal departments at Rancho Santiago Community College District and North Orange County Community College District. Ms. Gabel, a certified public accountant, started her career as an auditor with Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman, LLP (currently known as Clifton Larsen Allen), where she worked with several community colleges and K-12 districts.
Ms. Gabel is active in several state and local organizations in support of community colleges. She is a board member of the Statewide Association of Community Colleges, a joint powers authority which is responsible for property and liability. She currently serves as the President for the Association of Chief Business Officials, and is the chair of that organization’s Facilities Taskforce and is the co-chair of the state chancellor’s Advisory Workgroup on Fiscal Affairs. Ms. Gabel earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, Fullerton, and a master’s degree in educational management from the University of LaVerne.

Angélica Garcia | President | Berkeley College
(SCFF Oversight Committee Vice Chair)

Dr. Angélica Garcia is an educational leader who is passionate about issues of access, equity, and student success in higher education. Over the past 16 years her professional experiences include direct student support, teaching, and administrative roles in non-profit organizations, secondary education, and higher education. Currently, she proudly serves as the President of Berkeley City College. Prior to Berkeley City College, she served as Vice President of Student Services at Skyline College, where she successfully led the implementation of Guided Pathways, the Promise Scholars Program, the Student Equity & Support Programs Division, and the Equity Institute.
As an experienced educator, she combines her education and training as a social worker with her research and work in higher education to design and implement data informed programs and services that support quality instruction and comprehensive, holistic student services. She firmly believes that community colleges serve as pathways to liberation for historically minoritized communities. Her experience as a first- generation college and student of color, informs her lens to see students’ cultural capital and skills as strengths they bring to the academy as a practice of equity-minded leadership. She is committed to leading with integrity and promotes building collaborative relationships across campus cultures to build educational institutions that work for equity and racial justice. Dr. Garcia’s leadership and equity advocacy includes her current appointments to the Student Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee, the HERS (Higher Education Resource Services) Board of Directors, and the Vice President and Co-Founder of COLEGAS (California Community College Organización de Latinx Empowerment, Guidance and Advocacy for Success).

Liz Guillen | Director of Legislative and Community Affairs | Public Advocates, Inc.

Liz Guillen is the Director of Legislative and Community Affairs at Public Advocates Inc., a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation equity, and climate justice. Ms. Guillen joined Public Advocates’ Education Equity team in 2002. She has extensive experience advocating for the education rights of traditionally disenfranchised students, including undocumented immigrant students, in California’s K-12 public schools and in higher education. Working from Public Advocates’ Sacramento office, she focuses her policy advocacy on improving “opportunities to learn” across the state, collaborating closely with a statewide coalition of community and grassroots organizations representing low-income and immigrant communities of color. Guillen is a graduate of the University of Denver College of Law. She obtained her B.A. in history from Metropolitan State College in Denver.
Ms. Guillen came to Public Advocates from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), where she worked as staff attorney and then legislative counsel. She is a kayaker of calm waters and enjoys wildflower hikes, identifying raptors and learning flamenco dance. To learn more about the work of Public Advocates in education, go to https://www.publicadvocates.org/our-work-2/education/.

John McDowell | Professor Emeritus of Labor Studies | Los Angeles Trade Technical College

As a first-generation child of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, John owes his 40-year career as a professor and program director to his tuition (fee)-free education (culminating in a Masters in Sociology in 1970) in all three of California’s public systems – UC, CSUs, and CCs. From the steps of the State Capitol in 1967, when he participated in blocking Governor Reagan’s proposed tuition at the CSUs, to those same steps at the March in March in 2003, John has vigorously opposed student fees. John testified at legislative hearings about the value and importance of the true “College Promise” of the Master Plan. John has devoted his life to fighting to ensure that future generations would have the same opportunities that he had.
In the wake of Prop 13, John launched the Labor Center at L.A. Tech College to teach workers how to build strong unions -- its Labor Studies program is now the largest in the nation. John is currently the Government Relations Director of his union, the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, previously serving as Political Director, Treasurer, Chapter President, and other positions. During this period, John was Faculty Co-Chair of the District and College Budget Committees and the College Council for 12 years, served 14 years on the FACCC Board (as President from 2009-11), followed by four years on the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). When he was Chair, CSAC declared that their top priority was to help the most disadvantaged students -- and they launched the nation’s first (and sadly, only) Dream Act. John has two wonderful millennial daughters and he and his wife are longtime residents of the Silver Lake community in Los Angeles.

Kindred Murillo | Superintendent and President | Southwestern College
(SCFF Oversight Committee Chair)

Dr. Kindred Murillo joined Southwestern College in January, 2017. The tenets of her service to the college are increasing student success, building strong leaders and creating a culture of equity, diversity and inclusivity for all members of the college community.
Dr. Murillo has more than 20 years of educational and leadership experience in the California Community College system, including most recently serving as the superintendent/president of Lake Tahoe Community College. Her experience in building a University Center on the Lake Tahoe Community College campus has led to a new task force between the Southwestern College Governing Board and the Chula Vista City Council. The two entities have committed to working together to explore a new model for the city’s 375-acre parcel where several universities could share facilities.
Before serving as superintendent/president of Lake Tahoe, Dr. Murillo served as the vice chancellor of administrative services for the Contra Costa Community College District and as vice president of administrative services at Pasadena City College.
Dr. Murillo holds doctorate and master’s degrees in organizational leadership and organizational development, respectively, from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration from the University of Redlands. Dr. Murillo is also a product of the California Community College system, having graduated from Barstow Community College with an associate’s degree in liberal arts.

Christopher Nellum | Sr. Director for Higher Education | Education Trust-West

Dr. Christopher Nellum is the Senior Director of Higher Education Research and Policy at The Education Trust—West (ETW), an education equity research and advocacy organization working on educational justice and to close attainment and opportunity gaps. He is the founding director of ETW’s higher education policy and research team. In addition, Chris is a gubernatorial appointee to the Student Centered Funding Formula (SCFF) Oversight Committee charged with reviewing and evaluating the implementation of the community college system’s new funding formula. He began his career on college campuses in student affairs and has been a higher education researcher and advocate for nearly a decade. Chris, a native of the Imperial Valley, defied the odds after experiencing rural poverty to become a first-generation college student and graduate. An alumnus of three public universities, he is committed to guaranteeing that the doors to an affordable, quality public education are wide open for the next generations of Californians, especially low-income students of color. My email address is cnellum [at] edtrustwest [dot] org should any members of the public want to be in touch with thoughts or feedback about the funding formula.

Manuel Payan | Grounds/Equipment Operator | San Joaquin Delta College

Manuel Payan was born and raised in Stockton, California. Mr. Payan is currently employed at San Joaquin Delta College as a Grounds Equipment Operator. He started his career at San Joaquin Delta College in 1977, recently completing his 41st year.Manuel is a past president of the San Joaquin Delta College Hispanic Employees Association where he served from 1995-96, a member of the Artistas del Valle, specializing in Black and White photography from 1997-2008, and past president of the Mexican Heritage Center from 2006-2008.
Manuel has been an active member of California Schools Employee Association (CSEA), representing San Joaquin Delta College Chapter 359 since 1977. He has served as President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President and Job Steward, and is currently a member of the negotiating team. Manuel has also been on the hiring committees for Presidential positions at San Joaquin Delta College.Manuel has served as the CSEA’s representative on the California Community Colleges Consultation Council since 2000. He has served on various task force committees, i.e. Legislative and Budget Task Force, Professional Development and the hiring committee for the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

Michele Siqueiros | President | Campaign for College Opportunity

Michele Siqueiros was the first in her family to graduate from college thanks to many mentors, caring faculty, and critical federal, state and college financial aid. She is passionate about the power of college to change lives, and the ability of policy making to expand college opportunity for others.
As the President for The Campaign for College Opportunity, Michele is an advocate who works to expand college access and success for California students by raising public attention to the critical challenges facing students in our community colleges and universities, mobilizing a broad coalition of supporters, and influencing policymakers.
The Campaign’s mission to increase college going and completion rates is driven by a strong belief that California’s future economic success depends on our ability to produce the best educated workforce in the nation and that our diverse population of young adults deserve the same opportunity provided to previous generations – regardless of race or socio-economic status.
In her 15 years at the Campaign for College Opportunity (11 as President), she has built a strong, independent, and influential organization by raising over $21 million dollars, assembling a team of experts and leaders in the field, championing major budget appropriations, securing historic higher education legislation and establishing a broad and influential network of over 12,000 coalition supporters. Michele has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies with Honors in Chicano/a Studies from Pitzer College and a Master of Arts in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She serves on the Boards of the Alliance for a Better Community, the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, Pitzer College Alumni, PPIC Strategic Leadership Council and in 2019 was appointed by Senate Pro Tem Leader Toni Atkins to the Student Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee. She previously served on the California Student Aid Commission.

Dianne Van Hook | Chancellor | College of the Canyons

Currently in her 31st year as the leader and Chief Executive Officer of the Santa Clarita Community College District (SCCCD), College of the Canyons’ (COC) one college, two-campus service district covers 367 square miles in northwestern L.A. County, boasting a population base of nearly 300,000 individuals. Dr. Van Hook’s responsibilities are founded on providing vision and leadership to the SCCCD; developing and inspiring people, places and possibilities; establishing the college’s role as an educational and business leader in our community; creating partnerships, programs and potential; and influencing public policy to enable access and success of the students. A California Community College graduate herself, Dr. Van Hook has dedicated her career to removing barriers, expanding access, enhancing options and creating opportunities for anyone who wants to pursue a higher education. It is her intense natural drive that helps to build and maintain solid relationships on and off campus, as well as maintain the high level of fuel on which her collaborative spirit thrives, that inspires others to work together toward a common goal of removing barriers to student success.
Dr. Van Hook’s understanding of community college funding spans the national level, the system level, and the local level. Starting with serving on the task force that developed the implementation of AB 1725 (including the program based funding formula), she has served on a dozen statewide task forces charged with developing and evaluating the three previous funding formulas that allocated resources to the community colleges, and has put them into practice as a college president and district level CEO. She has served with distinction on more than 38 state boards. She has not only served, but led as the President of the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA), the Community College League of California (CCLC), Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges (CCEOCCC), chair of the Consultation Council, and District CEO of the South Central Coast Regional Consortium (SCCRC).

Replacement for Valerie Johnson TBD

The California Senate Pro Tempore is in the process of appointing a new representative to the SCFF Oversight Committee at this time.

Former Committee Members

Valerie Johnson | President of the Crafton Hills College Student Senate | Crafton Hills College (SCFF Oversight Committee Vice Chair | March - August 2020)

Valerie Johnson is President of the Crafton Hills College Student Senate and an active advocate for community college students. Valerie works to bring student voice to the table at her college, in her community college district, and to proceedings at the state level. This includes representing the students of Crafton Hills College at various meetings and convenings, as well as working with system partners to ensure policy and legislation meets the needs of all students. Valerie has previously served as the Vice President of System Affairs for the Student Senate for California Community Colleges. She is proud to have been a part of the team of students and advocates that brought the Undocumented Student Week of Action to the community colleges in 2018.Valerie is passionate about pursuing equity in our education systems and advocating for social justice. As a low-income student, she knows what it is like to face struggles on one's educational journey. Working to make sure all students have equal access to higher education empowers Valerie and encourages her to continue fighting for students. Valerie is from San Bernardino County and also enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.