Board of Directors
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
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.
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.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley
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.
Previously, Eloy was superintendent and president of the Long Beach Community College District (LBCCD), where he helped launch the Long Beach College Promise Program, a compact that outlined clear pathways from high school to Long Beach Community College and Cal State Long Beach. He also previously worked as LBCCD’s executive vice president of administrative services as well as vice president of college services at Oxnard College.
A forward-looking thought leader on higher education and its connection to the economy, he has served on many boards and committees, including the California Governor’s Council for Post-secondary Education, the California Forward Leadership Council, the PPIC Higher Education Advisory Council, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Economic Summit, and the American Association of Community Colleges 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. He joined the College Futures Foundation board of directors in 2013.
After serving in the U.S. Army from 1984-1988, he began his postsecondary education at Golden West College, then transferred and earned his bachelor’s degree and his MBA from the University of California, Irvine.
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.
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.
Betty T. Yee
Betty T. Yee is a former California State Controller with over three decades of experience in public service, especially in state and local finance.
She was elected Controller in November 2014, following two terms of service on the California Board of Equalization. As chief fiscal officer of the world’s then-fifth largest economy, she chaired the Franchise Tax Board and served as a member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) boards. As chair of the State Lands Commission, she provided stewardship of public trust lands, waterways, and marine resources through economic development, protection, preservation, and restoration consistent with the state’s environmental needs.
Prior to serving in elected office, Ms. Yee served as chief deputy director for budget with the California Department of Finance, where she led the development of the governor’s budget, negotiations with the legislature and key budget stakeholders, and fiscal analyses of legislation. She also served in senior staff positions for several fiscal and policy committees in both houses of the California State Legislature.
Yee currently serves on the boards of directors of Golden Gate University, the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, and Ceres, a global nonprofit organization that mobilizes climate action investors.
Ms. Yee earned an M.P.A. from Golden Gate University in San Francisco and a B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.
She joined the College Futures Foundation board in 2023.