• photos of 2 women and 2 men

      PCC Presidential Candidate Forum (Photos- PCC)

      Following a nationwide search, drawing on input from a broad cross-section of on- and off-campus constituency groups, the Board of Trustees of the Pasadena Area Community College District announced four finalists for the role of Superintendent/President of Pasadena City College.

       By News Desk

      The finalists are:

      • Carlos Cortez, Ph.D., recent Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District;
      • José Gómez, Ph.D., Interim Superintendent/President of Pasadena City College;
      • Thuy Nguyen, J.D., Partner at Garcia Hernández Sawhney, LLP; providing legal advice to community colleges, and
      • Lena Tran, MBA, Ed.D., President of Columbia College, California.

      “These four individuals are each eminently qualified to lead PCC into its next century,” said Kristine E. Kwong, President of the Board of Trustees. “Their backgrounds and experiences speak highly of their ability to build on the college’s strengths and ensure its growth. We are very pleased with the potential for excellence we have witnessed in these candidates.”

      • Carlos Cortez, who most recently served as Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, has more than 18 years’ experience as a college administrator – including 13 as a chief executive. He has worked at public, private, and charter schools in Washington, D.C., Houston, New York City, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and San Diego, and has been on the faculty at John Hopkins University, National University, New York University, and UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego.
      • José A. Gómez served as PCC’s Interim Superintendent/President and Executive Vice President. At California State University, Los Angeles, he was Provost (the university’s chief academic officer), and Chief Operating Officer. As an educator, Dr. Gómez has taught courses at Chaffey College, Mt. San Antonio College, Cal State LA, and USC. He previously served as higher education adviser to the president pro tem of the California Senate, Executive Director of the California Educational Facilities Authority, and held senior positions in the California Department of Justice and the State Treasurer’s Office.
      • Thuy Thi Nguyen is currently a partner at the law firm of Garcia Hernández Sawhney, providing legal advice to community colleges, serving as General Counsel to the African American California Community College Trustees and Administrators (Black Caucus), and serving as Commission Counsel to the Oakland Police Commission. In 2016, Nguyen became the first Vietnamese American college president in the country, serving over five years as President of Foothill College. Nguyen earned her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Yale University and Juris Doctor from UCLA School of Law.
      • Lena Tran currently serves as the President of Columbia College in California, bringing with over 27 years of experience. During her tenure, she successfully cultivated partnerships with industry leaders such as Apple CAL FIRE, Fresno Workforce Connection, Microsoft, MIT, and UC Berkeley, leading to the development of innovative dual enrollment, transfer, and workforce pathways in coding, artificial intelligence, fire and forestry, and healthcare. Dr. Tran has been recognized with an Aspen Rising President Fellowship, Stanford University Educational Leadership Initiative Award, and John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Award.

      Hear directly from the candidates

      Members of the public and the college community will have an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates this week. Each finalist will take part in an open forum with the PCC community on Wednesday, April 10, in Westerbeck Recital Hall, on the following schedule:

      10:00 amJosé A. Gómez
      11:00 amLena Tran
      11:55 amThuy Thi Nguyen
      12:50 pmCarlos Cortez

      Questions will be invited from the audience, with representatives from the executive search firm moderating the event. The events will also be live-streamed and recorded. More details are available on the college’s website.

      Pending selection by the Board of Trustees, the final candidate will become PCC’s 17th Superintendent/President, taking the reins as the college celebrates its centennial year in 2024-25, and   assuming the chief executive position at a college that consistently ranks among the state’s best community colleges in transfer to four-year institutions and career education.


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