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Speakers & Presenters

Jerry Anderson

Jerry Anderson

Founder & Executive Director, The Do School; Founder & Owner, Impact Solutions of the Triad

Mr. Jerry Anderson is owner and founder of Impact Solutions of the Triad, which he established in response to conditions he witnessed first-hand that are barriers to sustained employment, primarily due to lack of training. From its inception, he has hired and trained workers from the re-entry community.

It was through his business’ recruitment process that two issues became apparent: (1) the dire need for skills-training and (2) a more focused approach to ensure sustained employment, specifically for residents in underserved communities who may not qualify for traditional educational options. As a member of the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM) at Winston-Salem State University, Mr. Anderson has been designated a ‘community scholar’ for his community activism on economic equity. His published call-to-action, entitled “Our Place, Our Space”, challenged all aspects of the community to engage in collaborative efforts to address workplace inequities through skills training and workforce preparation.

Mr. Anderson is also founder and executive director of The Do School, which he launched in 2020 as a platform for action! Support from several foundations, local business entities and contractors, as well as individuals, fund the vision. 

Sonja Ardoin Ph.D.

Sonja Ardoin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Higher Education & Student Affairs, Clemson University

Sonja Ardoin, Ph.D. is a learner, educator, facilitator, and author. Proud of her rural hometown of Vidrine, Louisiana, her working-class, Cajun roots, and her first-generation college student to PhD journey, Sonja holds degrees from LSU, Florida State, and NC State. She considers herself a scholar-practitioner of higher education and studies social class identity, college access and success for rural and first-generation college students, student and women’s leadership, and career preparation and pathways in higher education and student affairs. Learn more about Sonja's work at  

Eduardo Arellano

Eduardo Arellano, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Higher Education, University of Texas at El Paso

Dr. Eduardo Arellano is an example of social mobility as a first-generation college graduate of immigrant parents who has earned a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in public administration from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He is also the only member of his extended family to have earned a doctorate. He earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from New Mexico State University (NMSU). After graduating from NMSU in 2001, Dr. Arellano served as an assistant professor in higher education at the same university for seven years. Since 2009, he has served as an associate professor in higher education leadership at UTEP and is also the program coordinator for the university’s master’s degree program in higher education. As an educator, Dr. Arellano has contributed to the social mobility of students by working to address their educational and social needs in collaboration with his colleagues in academia, student services, and the community.

Richard Armenta

Richard Armenta, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Kinesiology & Associate Director, Center for Training, Research & Educational Excellence (CTREE), California State University San Marcos

Dr. Richard Armenta is associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and the associate director of the Center for Training, Research, and Educational Excellence (CTREE). His research examines the cultural, historical, structural, and individual level factors influencing disease transmission and acquisition, with an emphasis on HIV and other blood-borne infections and substance use. He collaborates with local American Indian communities on several projects to advance health equity. His work in CTREE focuses on student and faculty career development and institutional curriculum enhancement in the natural sciences, behavioral sciences, math and other related disciplines. Dr. Armenta has significant experience effectively providing sociocultural and academic mentoring to students from historically and presently excluded backgrounds in STEM including American Indian students.

Toni Atkins

Senator Toni G. Atkins

Senate President Pro Tempore, Representing California Senate District 39

In 2016, Atkins was elected to represent the 39th District in the state Senate, where she has continued to advocate on behalf of women, the LGBTQ community, the environment, healthcare, veterans and increasing the state’s supply of affordable housing. After just one year, she was selected by her colleagues to serve as Senate President pro Tempore. In March 2018, she was sworn in, becoming the first woman and the first openly LGBTQ person to lead the Legislature’s upper house. Atkins is the first person in 150 years, and the third person in California history, to lead both houses of the Legislature. 

Amy Bippus

Amy Bippus, Ph.D.

Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, California State University Los Angeles

Dr. Bippus is provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Cal State LA, ranked number one in the nation for the upward mobility of its students. She assumed the role of Cal State LA's chief academic officer in June 2023 and has been part of the division's leadership team since August 2015, most recently serving as vice provost for Academic Affairs.

Previously, Dr. Bippus served as the associate dean of Enrollment Management and Outreach in the College of Liberal Arts at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). Prior to that, she served as chair of the Department of Communication Studies at CSULB. She has an active research record in conflict management, interpersonal humor, and instructional communication.

As provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Bippus oversees eight colleges and the University Library and works in collaboration with divisions across campus to ensure student duccess.

Mark Cafferty

Mark Cafferty

President & CEO, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation

As president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Mark Cafferty sits at the center of a unique collaboration of business, trade, community, and education leaders who have redefined the region’s economic development strategy, cementing the region as a key stakeholder in the global economy. 

Cafferty has spent more than 20 years designing systems to support career advancement and economic opportunity for American workers. He has served in numerous public-sector leadership positions and has been sought as a consultant on workforce development efforts throughout the country. 

Grace Castillo

Grace Castillo, Ed.D.

Interim Vice President of Student Life, California State University, Long Beach

Dr. Grace Castillo is a seasoned higher education professional working for the California State University for over 20 years. Most recently she serves as the interim vice president of Student Life at California State University, Los Angele (CSULA)

Dr. Castillo's previous appointments include associate vice president of Student Life, Student Health and Equity Programs; director of Student Health and Wellness at California State University San Bernardino and various roles at California State University, Fullerton including the director of the Guardian Scholars Foster Youth Program. Under her leadership, this program received national recognition from the Child Welfare League of America for exceptional leadership and demonstrated commitment in providing foster youth support in completing post-secondary education.

Her research includes first-year experiences of foster youth obtaining higher education and the correlation between social connections, student engagement and academic success for this unique population of students. Dr. Castillo has also been an adjunct lecturer for the Department of Child and Adolescent Studies and the Department of Public Health at California State University, Fullerton.

Ben Chida

Ben Chida

Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary, Office of Governor Newsom

Ben Chida is the chief deputy cabinet secretary for the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, where he has served as senior policy advisor for cradle to career. Previously, Chida was an attorney at an international law firm, an attorney-advisor in the executive office of Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, and a judicial law clerk to federal judges in California and on the D.C. Circuit. Earlier in his career, Chida was a third grade teacher at P.S. 325 in New York City and a roofer while attending a continuation high school.


Jason Cordova

Senior Program Officer, The James Irvine Foundation

Jason Cordova joined The James Irvine Foundation in 2022 as a Senior Program Officer. Jason has more than 10 years of nonprofit experience, focused on inclusive economic and workforce development. He previously served as Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce (LAACC), one of the country’s largest and oldest business associations. He was responsible for advancing LAACC’s small business support programs aimed at expanding capacity for underrepresented and underserved businesses in the Los Angeles region. Additionally, he led the Chamber’s workforce development initiatives that connected underrepresented talent to work-based learning and internships opportunities. 

Before his time at LAACC, Jason served as Vice President for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. During his tenure, Jason oversaw the organization’s economic, education, and workforce development strategies in Riverside and San Bernardino 

Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D.

Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D. 

Senior Vice President, Ed Trust 

Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D., serves as Ed Trust’s senior vice president. In this role, Wil spearheads Ed Trust’s mission to highlight inequities and outline solutions to improve access, success, affordability, and completion in higher education for low-income students and students of color. Prior to joining Ed Trust, Wil served in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, where he developed and implemented the state’s strategic vision for higher education. 

Wenda Fong

Wenda Fong 

Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, The California State University 

Wenda Fong began her 40-plus year career in television as the producer and host of her own live, talk show series in Los Angeles. Fong is the producer and director of music and variety specials, awards shows, reality specials, sitcoms, talk shows, documentaries and live events. She holds the dual distinction as being the first person of color and only woman to have produced the Emmy Awards. She has launched productions across the United States and around the world, including China, Canada, Europe and Africa.  

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Denise García, Ph.D.

Professor of Biological Sciences & Director, Center for Training, Research, and Educational Excellence (CTREE), California State University San Marcos 

Dr. Denise Garcia is the director of the Center for Training, Research, and Educational Excellence (CTREE) and professor of Biological Sciences at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). The mission of CTREE is to enhance the educational and research experiences of students from historically/presently excluded and underserved backgrounds in higher education. Success is achieved by actively engaging students in research and scholarly activities that support them throughout their educational pathway and into their career. The aim is to advance the diversity and inclusivity of the academic and non-academic workforce via the following programs: NIH-Bridges to the Baccalaureate, NIH-URISE, NIH-Bridges to the PhD, and DoEd McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program among others.

Millie Garcia

Mildred García, Ph.D.

Chancellor Select, The California State University & President, American Association of State Colleges & Universities (AASCU) 

The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Mildred García to serve as the 11th chancellor of the California State University. García currently serves as president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and previously served as president of California State University, Fullerton and California State University, Dominguez Hills. García is the first Latina appointed to oversee the CSU's 23-campus system.  

As AASCU president since 2018, García has been a strong advocate for public higher education at the national level, working to influence federal policy and regulations on behalf of 350 member colleges and universities. She is the first Latina to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington, D.C. During her tenure at AASCU, she restored the financial health of the organization through strategic leadership, bold decision-making and vision. She directed a strategic agenda that focused on public college and university leadership for the 21st century and provided professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors and their spouses.  

Melik Peter Khory

Melik Peter Khoury

President, Unity Environmental University

Dr. Melik Peter Khoury is the 11th President and CEO of Unity Environmental University headquartered in New Gloucester, Maine. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), from the University of Phoenix, an MBA from the University of Maine Orono, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

Dr. Khoury is a nationally recognized change leader and sought after speaker on how to implement structural change and create financially viable institutions.

During his time as President of Unity Environmental University, he has successfully led efforts to transform it into a sustainable, student centric institution of higher education by focusing on three core principles – affordability, accessibility, and flexibility. As a result, he has expanded its programs while growing its enrollment and national footprint exponentially.

Michelle Lovasv

Michelle M. Lovasv

Executive Director, Career Center, California State University Los Angeles

Michelle M. Lovasz is the executive director of the Career Center at California State University, Los Angeles. She is a Certified Career Services Provider with over ten years of experience in higher education career services. She has presented for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) on developing student career self-authorship using an adaptable curricular model and professional planning interventions for first year, first-generation college students. She has published an article in the National Career Development Association (NCDA) web magazine on culturally responsive career guidance using the systems theory framework of career development. She also published research using conversation analysis on the verbal co-participation of interview outcomes for Latinx college students in diversity internship interviews. Within the California State University system, she has presented strategies to collaboratively partner with career services for CSU Foster Youth and Dream Center directors and to collaboratively deliver alumni mentoring programs for the CSU Alumni Council. She also presented on student identity exploration within academic and career advising at the Cal State LA First to Finish Symposium.

Ramona Meraz-Lewis

Ramona Meraz-Lewis, Ed.D.

Faculty Coordinator, Higher Education & Student Affairs; Master Faculty Specialist, Educational Leadership, Western Michigan University

Dr. Meraz-Lewis’ work as a faculty member centers on teaching and supporting undergraduate and graduate students in exploring themes of leadership and intercultural development in a variety of educational environments, with a special focus on higher education leadership. She is passionate about helping create opportunities for global perspective taking, particularly for students from first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented backgrounds. 
Her work in this area has included launching a variety of initiatives including the development of three different study abroad programs: Canada, Malaysia & Singapore, and the Dominican Republic that serve both undergraduate and graduate student populations. In addition, she has created globally-focused courses, expanded the number of global internship partners available to graduate students, and co-designed an award-winning global classrooms experience for graduate students.  This work is highlighted in publications, presentations, and podcasts and has been funded and awarded through professional associations. 

Georj Lewis

Georj Lewis, Ed.D.

President, Clayton State University

Dr. Georj L. Lewis joined Clayton State University as its seventh president on February 1, 2023. In his 28th year in the higher education sector, Lewis started his post-secondary education career in admissions and enrollment, coordinating minority recruitment efforts. After five years, he moved into mid-level management positions in the functional area of multicultural affairs and led the student diversity efforts at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and then transitioned to leading the same efforts at Georgia Southern University. In May 2019, Dr. Lewis was tapped to serve as interim president of Atlanta Metropolitan State College before officially being named the college’s fourth president in November of that year. Dr. Lewis has received several awards, most recently recognized as a 2021 Pillar of the Profession by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). He is also a recipient of the Paragon Award for New Presidents by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He has also taught graduate courses on student services in higher education, undergraduate first-year experience courses and has recently collaborated on a book chapter in the Handbook of Research on Black Males and regularly serves on dissertation committees.  

Tomas D. Morales

Tomás D. Morales, Ph.D.

President, California State University San Bernardino

Tomás D. Morales was appointed president of Cal State San Bernardino in May 2012. He is the university’s fourth president since it opened in 1965. Previously, Morales had been president of the College of Staten Island, The City University of New York (CUNY), since 2007.

From 2001 to 2007, Morales served in various capacities at Cal Poly Pomona, including as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, vice president for Student Affairs,  and professor of education. Prior to joining CPP, Morales was vice president for Student Affairs and dean of Students at The City College of New York/CUNY from 1994 to 2001. From 1992 to 1994, Morales was assistant dean of the School of Education at the State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz.

His lifelong dedication to improving the access and quality of public higher education has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Distinguished Leader in Education award from Education Update; the Lifetime Achievement Award in Education from the New York League of Puerto Rican Women, Inc.; Effective Leadership Golden Age Award from the Latino Center on Aging; Latino Trendsetter Award at the United Nations; the IMAGEN Certificate Award from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; the Professional Achievement Award from Boricua College; the Hispanic Leadership Award from the Boy Scouts of America; the Outstanding Leadership in the Service of Youth Award by the National Honor Society at Susan E. Wagner High School; and the Louis R. Miller Award from the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and Staten Island Advance.

Ellen Neufeldt, Ed.D.

Ellen Neufeldt, Ed.D.

President, California State University San Marcos 

Since becoming the fourth president of California State University in July 2019, Dr. Ellen Neufeldt has focused on engaging, interacting, listening, and building relationships with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community constituents. A champion of innovation and entrepreneurship, President Neufeldt oversaw the opening of CSUSM’s Innovation Hub, an on-campus home for meeting societal needs, less than a year into her tenure in March 2020. But her commitment to innovation goes beyond a physical space, encompassing an entire ecosystem that includes a critical focus on social innovation. Dr. Neufeldt is also firmly committed to ensuring that Cal State San Marcos is a diverse, inclusive and welcome home for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. Focusing throughout her career on student success and student social mobility, she cares deeply about being part of the solution to creating pathways for students to achieve their dreams. 


Eloy Ortiz Oakley

President & CEO, College Futures Foundation

Eloy Ortiz Oakley joined the Foundation as President & CEO in August 2022. As president and CEO he works in partnership with organizations and leaders around the state to ensure that more students who reflect California’s diversity can complete their postsecondary journeys, access the opportunity for a better life, and participate in an inclusive and robust economy. Eloy is known as a leading voice on improving equity in higher education and for positioning institutions for global shifts in the workforce and the future of learning. 

In 2016, Eloy became Chancellor for the California Community Colleges, the nation’s largest higher education system, serving mostly students of color, many of whom are low-income and the first in their families to attend college. There he has been instrumental in the development and adoption of the Vision for Success, a guiding set of goals and commitments designed to significantly improve the system’s student outcomes. 


 Scott Peters

Congressman Scott Peters

Representing California's 50th Congressional District

Congressman Scott Peters serves California’s 50th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Coronado, San Marcos, Escondido and most of San Diego. First elected in 2012, Scott Peters currently serves on the House Budget Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Scott Peters is a civic leader who has made improving the quality of life in San Diego his life’s work. After a 15-year career as an environmental lawyer, Scott was elected to the San Diego City Council, where he later became the City’s first City Council President. During his time in Congress, Scott has passed legislation to give the military the advanced technology it needs to fight terrorism, to level the playing field for small businesses competing for government contracts, has succeeded in getting the federal government to make changes to the homelessness funding formula that disadvantages San Diego, and has spearheaded some of the greatest climate legislation passed in American history. 

Joely Proudfit

Joely Proudfit, Ph.D.

Professor, American Indian Studies & Director, Californa Indian Culture & Sovereignty Center, California State University San Marcos

Dr. Joely Proudfit (Luiseño), Ph.D., is an educator, activist and media maker. As a California Indian woman she had dedicated her life to lifting up the voices of American Indian women, girls and peoples. 

She was the first recipient of the American Political Science Association Native Fellows Program. A full professor, Dr. Proudfit has been tenured three times in the CSU system. In 2016 she was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education.

Dr. Proudfit serves as the Department Chair of the American Indian Studies Department. Dr. Proudfit is also the Director of the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center (CICSC) at CSUSM. The mission of the CICSC is to foster collaborative study and community service relationships among the faculty, staff and students of CSUSM, and members of tribal communities, for the purpose of developing and conducting research projects that support the maintenance of sovereignty and culture within those communities.

Prior to coming to CSUSM, Dr. Proudfit served as a tenured associate professor of public administration and the founding director of the Tribal Government, Management and Leadership Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB). A political scientist, she takes an interdisciplinary approach to her wide variety of research interests, which include: American Indian communities; American Indian Film, Representation, Stereotypes; tribal sovereignty, federal Indian policy, tribal leadership and governance, California Indian political and contemporary issues, American Indian education, tribal telecommunications and social justice issues. 

Star Rivera-Lacy

Star Rivera-Lacy, Ph.D.

Superintendent/President, Palomar Community College District

Star Rivera-Lacey, Ph.D., is the Superintendent/President of Palomar Community College District. Previously she served as vice president of student services at San Diego Continuing Education in California. Dr. Rivera-Lacy has over 20 years of community college administrative and leadership experience. Her community college experience includes serving as a vice president of student services; dean of counseling; director of EOPS, CalWORKs, and outreach; and director of student support services; she is a former tenured associate professor and counselor. 
Her leadership skills and qualifications include experience with developing and implementing innovative programs for diverse traditional, and nontraditional, student populations in both credit and noncredit educational settings. Her current scope of responsibility includes providing leadership for the development, implementation, and evaluation of key components of student services. Dr. Rivera-Lacey is also heavily engaged with integrated planning and provides leadership for the institution’s student success and equity efforts. 

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Yammilette "Yami" Rodriguez

Senior Director, Youth Leadership Institute & Member, Board of Trustees, The California State University

Yammilette “Yami" Rodriguez is the senior director of the Central Valley's Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), where she advocates for the inclusion of youth in community issues such as policy-making and sustainable social change. She has more than 20 years' experience in policy advocacy and higher education. 

As senior director, Rodriguez has expanded the youth development program, launched its Merced office and extended programming within the region. Some of YLI's youth-led projects have focused on the prevention of underage drinking, healthier corner stores, healthy advertising and eating campaigns, and providing access to parks. Nationwide, she trains organizations on how to create strong partnerships between young people and adults to make communities healthier.

Deborah Santiago

Deborah A. Santiago

Co-Founder & CEO, Excelencia in Education

Deborah A. Santiago is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Excelencia in Education, America's premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education. As an innovator, thought leader, and educational visionary, she has led research and advanced evidence-based practices and strategies for more than 20 years at national levels to improve educational opportunities and success to better SERVE Latino, and all, students. 

She co-founded Excelencia in Education in 2004 to inform policy, compel action, and collaborate with those ready to accelerate student success with an unapologetic Latino lens. Among her many contributions, Deborah has addressed federal legislative issues in higher education at the Congressional Research Service and informed program and policy implementation at the U.S. Department of Education. She also improved awareness and education opportunities for Latinos with federal agencies as the Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Among Deborah’s community efforts, she has provided program design and implementation for dropout prevention and parental engagement for the ASPIRA Association and translated data for community engagement at the Los Angeles Alliance for Student Achievement. 

Jose Antonio Vargas

Jose Antonio Vargas

Founder, Define American & Member, Board of Trustees, The California State University

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Tony-nominated producer. A leading voice for the human rights of immigrants, he founded Define American, a nonprofit cult​ure change organization aimed at humanizing conversations about immigrants. 

In 2020, Fortune named Vargas one of its “40 under 40" most influential people in government and politics. His best-selling memoir, “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen," was published in 2018. His second book, “White Is Not a Country," will be published in 2023. 

In 2011, The New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay written by Vargas that chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. A year later, he appeared on the cover of Time worldwide with fellow undocumented immigrants as part of a follow-up cover story he wrote. 

Vargas produced and directed “Documented," an autobiographical documentary feature film that aired on CNN, which received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary. That same year, MTV aired “White People," an Emmy-nominated television special he produced and directed on what it means to be young and white in a demographically changing America. In 2019, he co-produced Heidi Schreck's acclaimed Broadway play, “What the Constitution Means to Me," which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. 

Passionate about the role of arts in society and promoting equity in education, Vargas serves on the advisory board of TheDream.US, a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students. 

Jim Wolfston

Jim Wolfston

President, CollegeNET, Inc. 

Jim Wolfston is President of CollegeNET, Inc., the publisher of the Social Mobility Index (SMI). CollegeNET develops scheduling, admissions, and video interviewing technologies that are now used by over 1000 colleges and universities. Mr. Wolfston holds 30 patents covering several of the innovations behind these technologies. He is the executive producer of the new, award-winning documentary RIGGED, which explains how broader access to higher education holds the key to solving the growing divergence between rich and poor in this country.  Mr. Wolfston earned a B.A. Summa Cum Laude in Mathematics and Psychology at Western Michigan University and an M.S. in Computer and Communications Science at The University of Michigan. 

Luke Wood

Luke Wood, Ph.D.

President, Sacramento State University

Luke Wood was appointed Sacramento State’s ninth president in May 2023. Prior to his appointment, Wood served as a key leader driving transformational change in the areas of student success, enrollment and campus diversity at San Diego State, as the university’s chief diversity officer and vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity.

Wood joined San Diego State in 2011 as a professor and in 2012 was named co-director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab, a research and practice center focused on reducing equity gaps between students of color and their peers. In 2017, he became the first Black faculty member to be named a Distinguished Professor at SDSU, while serving as a professor in the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education.

In 2023, Wood was appointed by the California State Senate to serve on the newly established California Racial Equity Commission, which works to promote racial equity and address structural racism across the state.


Lynette Zelezny, Ph.D.

President, California State University, Bakersfield

Lynnette Zelezny, Ph.D., M.B.A., was appointed to serve as the fifth president of California State University, Bakersfield, effective July 1, 2018. Dr. Zelezny is the first woman to serve in the role.

Zelezny had been provost and vice president of academic affairs for Fresno State since 2014. In that capacity she was the campus' chief academic officer.

She joined Fresno State in 1988 and served in a variety of roles including associate provost, dean and associate vice president for the division of Continuing and Global Education, associate dean for the Craig School of Business and chair of the psychology department where she was also a lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor and professor.

Dr. Zelezny has served as a visiting professor at the University of Stockholm in Sweden, an American Council of Education Fellow at Towson University in Maryland, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. She was a nominee for the U.S. Professor of the Year awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. An applied social psychologist, Dr. Zelezny has published research related to the environment, health, leadership and student success for underrepresented students.

A product of the CSU, Zelezny earned bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from Humboldt State University, a Ph.D. in applied social psychology from Claremont Graduate University and an M.B.A. with distinction from the Craig School of Business at Fresno State. She has also earned professional certificates in management from Harvard University and in executive leadership from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.