Arnoldo Avalos emigrated with his family from a small agricultural town in Mexico to another small town in the upper Sacramento Valley. He and his family worked as migrant farm workers, following the seasonal fruit harvest. After graduating from high school, he worked as an intern for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture before arriving at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a history degree, graduating with honors. He earned a master’s degree in government from Harvard University.
Avalos has worked as a manager for major global companies including Cisco Systems, Google, and Facebook. Arnoldo sits on several nonprofit community boards, including the Latino Community Foundation, and Hermanos Unidos. Avalos also served a six-year term on the California Community College Board of Governors. In 2012, he and his wife, Alma-Ruth, established the Avalos Foundation to provide scholarships, mentorship, and a support network to low-income high school students from the Upper Sacramento Valley who are attending a University of California school.
Martha M. Escutia served in the California Senate until 2006 and is currently vice-president for state government relations and special counsel at the University of Southern California. Escutia was the first in her immigrant family to graduate from high school, college, and law school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy from the University of Southern California and was awarded a full scholarship to Georgetown Law School.
Escutia was elected to both the California State Assembly (1992) and State Senate (1998), where she was the first woman to chair the judiciary committee. As a lawmaker, she introduced several initiatives focused on English language learners, most notably AB 748, which created the first-ever California standards to evaluate the English language development skills of English language learners. She also introduced a bill to expand access to Advanced Placement classes.
Donna Lucas is founder and principal of Lucas Public Affairs, a California-based strategic consulting, public affairs, and communications firm.
One of the nation’s foremost public affairs strategists and a widely recognized expert in media relations and political affairs, Ms. Lucas has provided strategic counsel to large corporate clients, labor unions, non-profits, and political candidates. She also has worked on several statewide initiative campaigns on a variety of policy issues.
Over her 30-year career, Ms. Lucas has held senior executive positions in both the public and private sectors. She served as deputy chief of staff for strategic planning and initiatives for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and chief of staff to First Lady Maria Shriver. Ms. Lucas also served as deputy press secretary for Gov. George Deukmejian, deputy treasurer for state Treasurer Tom Hayes, and California press secretary for the 1988 presidential campaign of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. She was the global and public affairs practice leader for Porter Novelli, an international PR firm, after Porter Novelli acquired Nelson Communications Group, where she served as president and CEO for several years.
Ms. Lucas was the 2021 Chair of the California Chamber of Commerce board of directors and the Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. She is on the board of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and John Burton Advocates for Youth. Ms. Lucas is also a member of the Statewide Leadership Council of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and was on PPIC’s board of directors from 2007 to 2019, chairing the board from 2013 to 2016.
Ms. Lucas is a Director for Five Star Bank Bancorp (Nasdaq: FSBC) and it’s subsidiary Five Star Bank. Ms. Lucas is a founding member of She Shares, a unique conversation series featuring trailblazing women leaders who have created a lasting impact on women in California and beyond. She is routinely named one of Sacramento’s 100 most powerful people and one of the state capital’s most influential people. She was named Sacramento Business Woman of the Year in 2018 by the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Lucas is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Journalism. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, Greg Lucas, California’s State Librarian.
Ms. Lucas was elected to the Board in August 2012.
Monica joined the Foundation in December 2017. As president and CEO she works in partnership with organizations and leaders around the state to ensure education pathways are aligned seamlessly for college attainment. She is committed to the vision that California’s low-income students and students of color should have equitable access to bachelor’s degrees and a better life.
Before coming to College Futures, Monica spent thirty years in media as editor and publisher of La Opinión, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the country, and then as chairman and CEO of the parent company, ImpreMedia. Monica has been very active in education, especially at the institutional governance level. She served as chair of the California State Board of Education and the Board of Regents of the University of California, spent more than 20 years as a trustee of the University of Southern California, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education. She is on the Advisory Council of the Public Policy Insitute of California’s Higher Education Center.
Monica has also been active in philanthropy and the non-profit sector, including as chair of the Weingart Foundation Board of Trustees, a former member the board of the Rockefeller Foundation, and co-founder of the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program.
Lenny Mendonca was the Chief Economic and Business Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom of California and Chair of the California High Speed Rail Authority. He is a Senior Partner Emeritus of McKinsey & Company and a Lecturer on Inequality at the Stanford Business School.
He founded McKinsey’s U.S. state and local public sector consulting practice. He also oversaw their knowledge development, Chairing the McKinsey Global Institute and the Firm’s communications, including the McKinsey Quarterly. He served for a decade on the McKinsey Shareholder Council (its Board of Directors). He retired from McKinsey in 2014.
He was formerly the Chair of New America and Children Now, co-Chair of California Forward, and co-founder and Chair of Fusecorps. He was the Vice-Chair of Common Cause. He is the Chair Emeritus of the Bay Area Council and their Economic Institute, and was vice-chair of the Stanford GSB Advisory Council. He was a trustee at the Committee for Economic Development. He served on the boards of Fidelity Charitable, Western Governors University, UC Merced, The Educational Results Partnership, The College Futures Foundation, California Competes, The Opportunity Institute, Commonwealth Club, National Association of NonPartisan Reformers, and The Guardian.org. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served on the Board of Trustees for Junior Statesmen of America, and the Advisory Boards of Y Analytics, QB3, the Haas Center at Stanford, Third Sector Capital, The CA Community College Chancellor’s Office, Measures for Justice, and the Public Policy Institute of California.
He received his MBA and certificate in public management from Stanford. He holds an AB, magna cum laude, in economics from Harvard.
He lives on the Half Moon Bay coast with his wife, Christine. They raised their two daughters, Allie and Rebecca, there and are the founders and owners of the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, The Inn at Mavericks and the Pacific Standard Taproom. He is also Chair and primary owner of the Coastside News Group (Half Moon Bay Review).
Mr. Mendonça joined the Board in 2015.
Gretchen Hartnack Milligan brings more than 35 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit field. She is retired from Board Focus, the consultancy she founded to advise boards of nonprofit organizations and independent schools. She is a current member of the board of The Thacher School in Ojai. She has also served on of the boards of Cottage Health in Santa Barbara, which she chaired; the Santa Barbara Foundation; Marlborough School in Los Angeles, which she chaired; Crane Country Day School in Santa Barbara, which she chaired; and the Stanford Alumni Association. In addition, she has served in volunteer positions at Stanford University including on the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council, the Stanford Business School Alumni Association, the Bing Overseas Studies Advisory Council, the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences Advisory Council, and as president of Stanford Associates. Ms. Milligan received both an undergraduate degree and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.
Ms. Milligan joined the Board in August 2010.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley is an American educator, leader, and advisor. He is considered a leading voice on improving equity in higher education and for positioning institutions for the global shifts in the workforce and the future of learning.
Oakley was appointed Chancellor of the California Community Colleges in December 2016. He leads the nation’s largest and most diverse system of higher education. In 2021, while on a sabbatical, he served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and the Biden Administration where he supported the development and communication of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda for Higher Education and the America’s College Promise proposal. Under his leadership, the California community colleges are positioned as a vital source for maintaining global competitiveness of the California workforce. Through the implementation of innovative practices and policies, the California Community Colleges have begun to close education attainment gaps and have improved the preparedness and resiliency of California’s workforce. Oakley’s work includes the establishment of the California College Promise, the design and implementation of the systems’ strategic vision, the Vision for Success, the elimination of standardized testing, the reform of remedial education, the adoption of a student-centered funding formula, the reform of state-based financial aid for community college students and the design and launch of California’s first public fully online competency-based education college.
Oakley serves on the boards of the University of California Board of Regents, American Council on Education, and the College Futures Foundation. He advises various education-related companies such as Guild Education, OpenClassrooms, and Certree.
For his leadership, Oakley has been recognized with the 2014 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, as a 2016 President Barack Obama White House Champion of Change, the 2018 Higher Education Dive President of the Year, the 2018 Roybal Foundation Medal of Courage in Education and the 2021 Diverse Champions Award.
Mr. Oakley joined the Board in 2013.
Linda Oubré is president of Whittier College, in Whittier, California.
Dr. Oubré has led Whittier College since 2018 and is the school’s first president of color. With a student body that is 70 percent students of color, Whittier is one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the nation. Previously, Oubré was the dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University for six years, where she increased funding by more than 300 percent, including support for student career and leadership development, and launched innovative programs including a graduate curriculum review and a new executive M.B.A. program.
At UC Davis, Dr. Oubré oversaw a new corporate relations and business development plan for the Graduate School of Management and led the development and implementation of an enrollment growth, marketing, and visibility strategy for the Bay Area M.B.A. program.
Before working in higher education, Dr. Oubré held top corporate positions. She was president and chief executive officer of LSO Ventures, a venture investment and consulting firm, and helped found BriteSmile, where as president, she took the company public on NASDAQ.
Dr. Oubré earned a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and a B.A. in economics from UCLA.
Dr. Oubré was elected to the Board in October 2019.
Willa Seldon is a partner at The Bridgespan Group, a global social impact consulting firm and advisor that works with leaders, philanthropists and impact investors to address society’s most important challenges and opportunities. Her clients include Low Income Investment Fund, Mercy Housing, The Rockefeller Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and StriveTogether. She has helped launch initiatives, including Black Ambition and OneTen and has supported mobilization efforts such as the White House Council for Community Solutions.
Before Bridgespan, Seldon served as CEO of the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco-based center for social justice, and executive director of the Tides Center, a fiscal sponsor and accelerator for social ventures. Her private sector experience includes co-founding a venture capital firm and serving as a senior executive at wireless communications company AirTouch.
Willa is on the board of directors of JFF, Pew Charitable Trusts and Sutter Health. She received a JD from Yale University, a MBA from the Harvard Business School, and an AB in economics from Bryn Mawr College, where she is an emeritus trustee.
Ms. Seldon joined the Board in 2015.
Ashley Swearengin is president and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation, a charitable foundation serving the six counties of Central California and providing over $100 million in funding to over 650 community benefit organizations over the last decade. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as mayor of Fresno from 2009 through 2016.
As mayor, she implemented substantial changes to improve the delivery of city services, revitalize the downtown and urban core, promote business and job growth, address chronic homelessness, and stabilize the city’s financial position.
Before becoming mayor, Ms. Swearengin led a number of economic development initiatives in the Fresno region, including the Central Valley Business Incubator, Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development, and the Regional Jobs Initiative. She holds MBA and BS degrees from California State University, Fresno.
Ms. Swearengin joined the Board in 2017.
Linda Davis Taylor is a financial literacy, wealth management, and education expert focused on championing women’s economic independence and strength. An experienced trustee and advisor to firms and families, she is the creator and host of Money Stories with LDT-a podcast at the intersection of money, wellbeing, gender, and storytelling. Ms. Taylor is an independent trustee for Morningstar Funds Trust, a Director for San Pasqual Fiduciary Trust Company, and a member of the Board of Governors for the Huntington Library, Botanical Gardens, and Art Museum. She is the former Chair and CEO of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors in Pasadena, CA.
A published author, Linda wrote The Business of Family with an objective to educate families on multi-generational family financial sustainability and the power to affect change that comes with wealth.
Prior to her role with Clifford Swan, Linda held senior leadership positions for several distinguished educational institutions including Amherst College, Claremont McKenna College, Emory University, and Scripps College, including Chairman of the Board of Scripps College.
Peter Taylor is president of the ECMC Foundation, where he has led investments of more than $225 million in initiatives focused on college success and career readiness, especially among underserved populations. He joined ECMC Foundation in 2014 when the board of directors decided to shift ECMC Foundation from a scholarship organization to a strategic grantmaker.
Before ECMC Foundation, Peter served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for the University of California system. During his time there, he oversaw all aspects of financial management at the 10 campuses and the five academic medical centers. Most of Peter’s professional career was in investment banking, with nearly 16 years in municipal finance banking for Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital. Before obtaining his master’s degree, he spent six years on the legislative staff of the California State Assembly Majority Leader working at the state capitol in Sacramento.
Mr. Taylor served on the CSU Board of Trustees from 2015 to 2021. He is also a member of the boards of Edison International, Pacific Life, the Parsons Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Mr. Taylor earned an M.A. in public policy analysis from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles.
Mr. Taylor was elected to the board in June 2020.
Richard Whitmore is serving as Superintendent of the Lafayette School District in Lafayette, California through June 2022.
Previously, Mr. Whitmore was Chief Administrative Officer at WestEd, a nonprofit, public research, development, and service agency that works in education and communities to improve learning for children, youth, and adults. From 2003-2006, Mr. Whitmore served as WestEd’s Chief Financial Officer, and prior to rejoining WestEd in 2011, he served as the Superintendent for the Los Gatos Union School District.
Mr. Whitmore was Chief Deputy Superintendent to California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, and also served during her two terms as the Chief Policy Advisor and as Deputy Superintendent for Finance, Technology, and Planning. He represented the California Department of Education (CDE) in the development of the state’s first accountability system, helped create state budgets for K-12 education, developed state policies to identify and intervene in low-performing schools, and was responsible for the day-to-day management of CDE.
Mr. Whitmore graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University and received his MBA from Harvard University.
He has most recently served on the boards of the College Preparatory School in Oakland, ConnectEd: the National Center for College and Career (including six years as chair), and on the advisory council for the Lawrence Hall of Science. Currently, he served as an elected Governing Board member of the Acalanes Union High School District in Lafayette, CA for fifteen years , and is active in other local community affairs, having served as the President and Fundraising Chair of the Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation, the President of the Lafayette Girls Lacrosse Association, and many other roles in the academic and athletic communities.
Mr. Whitmore joined the Board in 2013.