Family Engagement Institute
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The purpose of the Family Engagement Institute (FEI) Advisory Board is to convene a group of innovative and influential equity-minded leaders who support the work of FEI to create the space and culture of determination that ensures an inclusive and thriving society through educational access, opportunity, and success.
The Board is comprised of a diverse group of education, foundation, business, student, family, and community leaders who guide FEI’s strategic vision, anchored in its collaboration with BIPOC communities, to build collective capacity through relationships, trusted partnerships, and resources to gain racial, social, economic justice.
Open dialogue and honest conversation are key to the work. The value of the funds of knowledge and lived wisdom that each member brings leverages the strengths of the greater whole.
Family Engagement Director, California Department of Education
Lisa Borrego has over 25 years of experience in education and community engagement. She has coordinated several community and statewide coalitions that include collaborations with school districts, county office of educations, non-profits, law enforcement, county agencies and faith-based and other private organizations to support educational initiatives. Lisa successfully implemented several youth development, education, health and human service projects that led to multiple funding opportunities for communities throughout California. Her recent work with the California State PTA provided her the opportunity to lead and scale the School Smarts parent education program that focused on building leadership skills amongst diverse groups of parents to increase student success. As the first Director of Family Engagement for the California Department of Education, she is committed to shining a light and elevating the work of practitioners all over the state. Lisa received her B.A. Degree from the University of California at Davis in Sociology and her M.A. from California State University, Sacramento in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Organizations.
Community Volunteer & Founder, Retirement Linkages
Lyn Christenson, is a certified retirement coach and workshop leader on nonfinancial retirement planning.
She offers workshops and personal coaching to help clients plan for a successful retirement
built on their interests, skills and values. Lyn brings her clients decades of experience as a team leader, coach and storyteller, and has led and coached teams ranging from multinationals to startups,
including managing global communications for mapping the human genome. Lyn also has
extensive experience in the nonprofit sector as a leadership coach and board member
in education and social services, and has served on the boards of SV2 (Silicon Valley Social Ventures), Reading Partners
Silicon Valley, and The Girls Middle School. Lyn holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism
from the University of Missouri and an MBA from Pepperdine University, and coaching
certifications from Retirement Options and Hudson Institute.
For more information visit www.retirementlinkages.com.
Alma Regina Dominguez
Family and Community Leader
My name is Alma Regina Dominguez. I'm from Michoacan, Mexico.I have three children and a wonderful husband. Two of my children attended Campbell Union School District and the oldest one is in College. I enjoy to help any way. l love to learn, l love to be involved in my children’s education in any way, especially at their school. l have experienced that to be the best way to help our kids set their goals, follow through and become true to their dreams and be successful. It is very important as a parent to be involved with schools and a wonderful way to show our love to our children and to be heard by Principals, Teachers and people who are involved in their lives. I like to attend meetings like Coffee with the Principal, PTA, ELAC, DELAC, Campus Collaborative, and FEI Foothill College Parenting classes. I received a leadership award from FEI in October 2020 in recognition of partnership and inspiration for being a champion in my commitment to advancing equity.FEI changed my life and my family's. No words to describe how much I'm learning and using their life lessons.
I thank FEI for changing lives and mentalities.
Dr. Mari Estrada
Consultant & Higher Education Faculty
Mari Estrada Ph.D. is an early childhood and higher education consultant. Her recent projects include serving as Project Specialist for the Oxnard College Child Development Center to lead the implementation of a new curriculum inclusive of support for dual language learners, STEAM, and the outdoor classroom. Prior to this role, she served as Interim Director of a Title V Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) grant at Oxnard College and co-Director of the statewide CDE Dual Language Learning Professional Development project at CSU Channel Islands. Dr. Estrada’s experience in early care and education, quality initiatives and projects include: Senior Program Associate for the Center for Child and Family Studies (CCFS) at WestEd managing several First 5 CA IMPACT projects including the Dual Language Learner Pilot, Communities of Practice for ECE leaders, Training and Technical Assistance for Family Engagement and ECE Higher Education Faculty collaboration; Principal Investigator for a local evaluation of transfer barriers from a southern CA Community College District to the local CSU funded by First 5 Ventura County; Classroom Quality Consultant for a the Stretch to Kindergarten Program at the Family Engagement Institute, Foothill College; Community College Coordinator for the TEACH project at CI; Special Consultant for the Early Childhood Studies Santa Barbara BA Completion cohort at CI; Coordinator the First 5 CA Teacher Signature Program CARES Plus for Santa Barbara County and facilitator of the Santa Barbara County ECE Workforce Development Consortium; with humble beginnings as an Enrollment Clerk and Program Assistant for her local Head Start Program. Her publications include co-authorship of an upcoming book chapter for Routledge on Parental Engagement in Early Childhood Education Around the World (2021), development and publication of the First 5 California Dual Language Learner Resource Guide - Best and Promising Practices for Supporting Young Dual Language Learners in California (2018), and several co-authored publications and presentations effective teacher-child interactions, instructional support of young dual language learners, and preparing the early childhood workforce. Other scholarly work includes the use and misuse of small groups for large-scale innovation and policy implementation. Dr. Estrada serves as adjunct faculty for CSU Channel Islands, School of Education, is a member of several campus and community groups in early childhood education, higher education, and social justice issues. She holds an AA in Liberal Studies and AS in Early Childhood Education from Allan Hancock College, and BA in Sociology, and MA/Ph.D. in Education from UC Santa Barbara.
Foothill College ASFC President and Family Engagement College Intern
Fatai Heimuli serves as Foothill College intern for the Family Engagement Institute, a voting member of the Associated Students of Foothill College, and in the upcoming school year she will serve as ASFC President at Foothill College. A second-generation resident of East Palo Alto, Fatai is the daughter of Tongan immigrants. She is passionate about social equity, civic engagement, and the amplification of marginalized voices in her community.
Elena Lopez is an independent researcher whose interests focus on family and community contexts that support learning and school success. Her work in documentation, professional development, and technical assistance seeks to bridge research and practice, with the goal of creating more equitable learning opportunities for underserved children. Dr. Lopez has worked for university and nonprofit organizations including the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Global Family Research Project. As a senior researcher of Head Start’s National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement she initiated the conceptual development of the Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework. She provided technical support and evaluation of the United Way Worldwide’s Family and Community Engagement for High School Success and presently serves on the advisory board of the Family Engagement Institute at Foothill Community College in California. Dr. Lopez also organized an initiative on family engagement in public libraries with the Public Library Association. Her recent research on public libraries and family engagement has been published in Public Library Quarterly and the Journal for Library and Information Science. A forthcoming book, A Librarian’s Guide to Engaging Families in Learning, will be published in 2021. She serves as a volunteer member of the Board of the Mountain View Public Library in California (through 2021), where she works on policies for greater access and engagement with library programs and services. Dr. Lopez received her doctorate in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. She is an avid hiker and proud of her two accomplished children in the education field.
Judy C. Miner
Chancellor, Foothill-De Anza Community College District
Judy C. Miner, Ed.D.is chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which is headquartered in Los Altos Hills, California. She has worked as a higher education administrator since 1977 and in the California Community Colleges since 1979. She has held numerous administrative positions in instruction, student services, and human resources at City College of San Francisco, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, De Anza College, and most recently at Foothill College where she served as president from 2007 to 2015. Regionally, she serves on the NOVA Workforce Board and the advisory boards for the Los Altos Library Endowment; San Francisco Opera Education Programs; and the Pebble Beach Authors and Ideas Festival. She is also on the Board of Trustees of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and served for several years as an expert advisor to Hewlett Packard and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) for their Silicon Valley initiative aimed at increasing enrollments of underrepresented students in computer science. Miner is the Silicon Valley CEO representative to the Economic Development and Program Advisory Committee for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and is a member of the Advisory Committee on Legislation for the Community College League of California. Nationally, she serves on the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE) and as board chair for 2017-18; Board of Directors for Year Up; Board of Directors for the League for Innovation in the Community College; and Board of Directors of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the CHEA International Quality Group (CIQG). Additionally, she serves on the External Advisory Committee for a University of Wisconsin-Madison National Science Foundation study on financial aid impact on community college students. Internationally, she has been an invitee to present on American community colleges to the Fundacion Ciencia y Vida (Santiago) and the Forum on Science and Technology in Society (Kyoto) as well as on workforce training to the International Conference on Community Colleges (New Delhi). In 2011, under the auspices of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), she served on the Working Group that produced Report to the President, Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The White House published the report in February, 2012. On March 23, 2012, Science magazine published her opinion piece entitled “America’s Community Colleges” with an accompanying podcast that highlighted science initiatives at Foothill College. Her recent awards include Hillel Pillar of the Community; Silicon Valley Business Journal Women of Influence; Year Up Core Values: Engage and Embrace Diversity; and Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow. She earned her B.A., summa cum laude, in history and French at Lone Mountain College in San Francisco; her M.A. in history at that same college; and her Ed.D. in organization and leadership (with a concentration in education law) from the University of San Francisco. She also holds honorary degrees from Imperial Valley College and Palo Alto University.
Thuy Thi Nguyen
President, Foothill College
Thúy Thị Nguyễn , J.D., serves as the seventh President of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, a position she has held since July 2016. Nguyen is believed to be the first Vietnamese American college president in the country. Prior to her arrival at Foothill, Nguyen served as interim general counsel for the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office. As overseer of equal employment opportunity plans for 72 community college districts and 113 colleges, she led the move to an innovative funding approach that encourages community colleges to assess and strengthen their efforts in equal employment opportunity. Nguyen also organized regional training workshops covering such topics as why diversity in hiring matters and how to address unconscious bias, highlighting evidence that a diverse faculty helps close the student achievement gap. For over eleven years, Nguyen was the General Counsel for the Peralta Community College District. At different points during her tenure at Peralta, she served in additional roles as Acting Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, District-wide Strategic Planning Manager, and legislative liaison. From January to June 2015, Nguyen took temporary leave from Peralta CCD to serve as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of the Community College League of California. When she was 3, she and her family joined the wave of “boat people” who fled Vietnam after the end of the war. They drifted in the Pacific Ocean on a boat for more than 20 days before a commercial ship rescued them and took them to a refugee camp in Japan. Eventually, the family relocated to Wichita, Kansas, and then moved to the warmer climate of New Orleans. When she was 14, the family settled in the Oakland. Nguyen attended a predominantly African American and Latino school, Castlemont High, where she embarked on a path of community leadership and service. At Castlemont, she served as a student representative on the Oakland Unified School District’s Board of Directors and cadet colonel brigade commander in the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. Upon graduation, the mayor of Oakland declared June 23, 1993 “Thuy Thi Nguyen Day” recognizing her community service. Nguyen is the founding board chair of California L.A.W. Pathway, a non-profit organization that coordinates the unprecedented statewide 2+2+3 Community College Pathway to Law School program that Nguyen initiated with the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness. The Pathway includes 8 California law schools, 8 undergraduate universities, 26 community colleges and 22 high school law academies. She also helped spearhead a Spanish language court interpreter program at Peralta. In 2016, Nguyen received the coveted Diversity Award from the State Bar of California, an award given to an individual who has helped diversify the legal profession. She co-published a book, “25 Vietnamese Americans in 25 Years,” showcasing the contributions of 25 distinguished Vietnamese Americans to American society to mark the anniversary of the fall of Saigon. The book is archived in the Library of Congress and available at the Viet Museum in San Jose and many public and university libraries across the country. Nguyen was an adjunct instructor teaching education law for several years at what is now California State University, East Bay. She is immediate past board president of the Marcus Foster Education Institute, which promotes excellence and educational opportunity in East Bay and San Francisco public schools. In 2002, Thuy was listed among “30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30” nationally by Rainmaker Political Group (politicalcircus.com). In 2007, she was named one of eighteen “Best Lawyers Under 40” in the country by the National Asian American Bar Association. In 2011, the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California honored her its Trailblazer Award, and in 2012, the Minority Bar Coalition presented her with its Unity Award. The National Conference for Vietnamese American Attorneys presented her with its 2017 Trailblazer Award. She is the founding president of the Castlemont High School Alumni Association and has been inducted into the school’s Alumni Hall of Fame. On July 4, 2017, Nguyen was honored as part of the Carnegie Corporation’s “Great Immigrants” tribute in the New York Times. The tribute is aimed at recognizing naturalized citizens who have helped advance society, culture and the economy. Nguyen earned her B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, where she was a member of the inaugural class of the Public Interest Law and Policy Program. Nguyen is a Rotarian and a Paul and Daisy Soros for New Americans Fellow.
Family and Community Leader
My name is Paula Pérez. I have 4 children aged 23,17,15 and 11 years old. Jesus studies mechanical engineering at the University of Merced; Ronaldo is currently studying High School and finished 11th grade; America also attends High School and finished 9th grade; and Diogo finished the fifth grade. I am proud to have participated in the 2006-2008 Even Start Family Literacy Program,
in this program I met Carmen Ponce who is a very dedicated and interested person in
Education. In 2011-2012, I was fortunate to be part of the Family Engagement Institute, this
program gave us very enriching classes such as Healthy Choices, Hands on Cooking,
Computer Literacy and Parenting Series I and II, Strong Start Parenting Series (I
and II). In this program I met Betsy Nikolchev as coordinator, Betsy has been an essential part of this program committed to education
from the young ages between 3 and older. And she is also interested in educating parents,
that is why I am very fortunate because these programs have influenced my whole family
not only my children as students but also my husband and myself as parents. Thank you! FAMILY ENGAGEMENT INSTITUTE. Co-Community Founder of Mountain Solidarity Fund.
Mi nombre es Paula Pérez. Tengo 4 hijos de 23,17,15 y 11 años de edad. Jesús estudia ingeniería mecánico en la universidad de Merced; Ronaldo estudia actualmente la High School y terminó el grado 11; América también cursa la High School y terminó el grado 9; y Diogo terminó el quinto grado. Tengo el orgullo de haber participado en 2006-2008 el programa de Even Start Family Literacy Program, en este programa conocí a Carmen Ponce quien es una persona muy dedicada e interesada en la Educación. En el 2011-2012 tuve la fortuna de ser parte de Family Engagement Institute este programa nos impartió clases muy enriquecedoras como: healthy Choices, hands on Cooking, computer Literacy y Parenting Series I y II, strong Start Parenting Series (I y II). En este programa conocí a Betsy Nikolchev como coordinadora, Betsy ha sido una pieza imprescindible de este programa comprometida con la educación desde los las edades jóvenes entre 3 y más años de edad. Y también se interesa en educar a los padres por eso yo soy muy afortunada por que estos programas han influido en toda mi familia no solo a mis hijos como estudiantes sino a mi esposo ya mi como padres. Gracias! FAMILY ENGAGEMENT INSTITUTE.
Chief Development Officer, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley
Clara is passionate about building nonprofits' capacity to facilitate the change we want to see in the world. Over the course of her career she has tackled big challenges in the non-profit sector as a Chief Development Officer, Board Member, Major Gifts Officer, Giving Partner, Programs Director and Educator. In these roles she has helped address the most intractable issues in our society: education, professional and economic advancement, poverty, and homelessness. As the current Chief Development Officer of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV), she focuses on raising funds to speed up the pace of intergenerational educational and career advancement in the Hispanic community across Silicon Valley. Prior to joining HFSV, Clara served as Major Gift Officer at Life Moves. At Lifemoves she had a first hand view of the complex set of issues surrounding homelessness. She has also worked for other local nonprofits including Vascular Cures, the Pacific Stroke Association (PSA), and Project Baobab. Outside of work, Clara is a partner and Board member at SV2 - The Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund. SV2 Partners pool resources and select cutting-edge organizations and initiatives that receive 3-year grants after an intensive due diligence process. Clara also serves on the Development Advisory Committee for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Clara received her Master’s in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Policy at New York University. Originally from Colombia, her early career includes stints as an educator and working for a global risk management consulting firm. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and het two rescue pets.
Associate Director of Programs, Educational Equity, Advancement Project & President of Saldaña Benavides Consulting
Ernesto López Saldaña, CPC, J.D., a first generation college graduate of Mexican Bracero farmworker parents, an advocate for racial and economic justice, a certified leadership coach and facilitator whose work is informed and anchored by his family’s immigration story. For over 25 years he has been a champion for racial and economic justice. He serves as the Associate Director of Educational Equity Programs for Advancement Project California, a multiracial civil rights organization advocating alongside communities of color. In 2010, while serving as state field director for Preschool California, he led the state geopolitical campaign to establish a new grade in California called Transitional Kindergarten (TK). Previously, he served as Deputy Director of Constituency Services at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund where he trained the nation’s top leaders on systemic issues impacting the Latinx community. Ernesto also serves as President of Saldaña Benavides Consulting where he actively engages one of his 'superpowers’ the ability to establish connection, not only with an individual client but with a group, team, and/or audience. With 25 years of experience, Ernesto has led hundreds of trainings to assist leaders, organizations and communities in co-creating safe spaces to foster trust and bring about more resonant, intentional and connected strategic planning. He is an expert at designing highly interactive programs and engaged learning through experience-based methodologies that uphold the value for inclusive leadership practices to overcome systemic barriers that hinder success. He credits his mama and papa and for shaping one of his core values which guides him in all his work – “we are all teachers and learners at the same time.” He is encouraged to live into this value by his life partner Corina and their son Yarel.
Ex Officio Board Members
Executive Director, Foothill-De Anza Foundation
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Family Engagement Institute
Student Resource Center, Building 5400 Room 5420