Coalition aims to help civic leaders strengthen California Community Colleges

580 200 Leah Grassini Moehle

(Bruce Stenslie, Mark Cafferty, Anne Palmer, Denise Brosseau, Andrea Vizenor, Van Ton-Quinlivan, Bill Allen, Kristin York, Susan Lovenburg, Leah Grassini Moehle, Rose Asera, Rachel Westlake, David Palter, Loreli Cappel, Richard Grotegut, Boglarka Kiss, William Watson, Michael Ward, Mike Betts, Heidi Hill Drum, Rory Rottschalk, Lori Bennett, Deb Nankivell, Linda Bidrossian, Jim Mayer, David Clark, Gurminder Sangha, Jovanni Tricerri, Matt Weitstein, Bill Mueller, Ken Newby, Tom Ehrlich. Missing:  Paul Granillo)  


To achieve California’s workforce goals, civic leaders have tools at their disposal like influence, their networks and the power to convene, all of which can help bolster public investment in higher education.

Finding the best way to use those tools was the goal set last week for the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy, CA Fwd and the California Stewardship Network as they organized two focus groups.

The research was inspired by the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions 100,000 Opportunities Initiative – an employer-led coalition focused on pathways to economic prosperity that connect employers to the untapped talent pool of opportunity youth. 

A recent Aspen fellowship cited educational research to support college leaders trying to navigate demographic and economic change. From that came the idea of creating a similar program focused on the role civic stewards’ play in the community college system.

“We learned from our May 2017 focus groups that collaboration between California community colleges and employers is of paramount importance in navigating change – with student success as the North Star,” said Anne Palmer, Ed.D, executive director of the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative.

The collaborative impact of this capacity-building initiative is intended to deliver on the California Economic Summit's goal of producing one million more skilled workers for California, in ways that unlock social mobility by training and connecting students and displaced workers to good-paying jobs.

“I love the idea of bringing executive leaders together from around the state to support a 'forever forward' movement – bringing technology and strategic thinkers together to transform the way schools and workforce development prepare for the future,” said Heidi Hill Drum, CEO of the Tahoe Prosperity Center

As we are increasing investments in workforce at the state level, there is no better time for California to mobilize a network of regional catalysts to steward the momentum and more easily mobilize teams to collaborate across boundaries and address challenges with the economy, environment, and community. This triple bottom line approach fits what Californians want—good jobs that are sustainable with an opportunity for all.

As the largest and most complex higher-education system in the nation, California’s 113 community colleges are home to significant innovations in the public domain, while also facing many challenges.  Over the last five years, under the Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy framework, the California Community Colleges workforce mission has undergone a significant transformation from an afterthought to a policy imperative. To achieve that means more civic leaders must be organized and mobilized.

“The Community College Strong Workforce Program is a collective effort and civic leaders and organizations play a critical role in ensuring that the state meets its workforce goals. A Civic Leadership program will provide civic leaders a common language and understanding so they can be effective in transforming their regional economies,” said Gurminder Sangha, deputy sector navigator for advanced manufacturing at the College of the Sequoias.

Engagement from the California Stewardship Network – a dozen plus civic stewards from all of California’s diverse regions – the California Economic Summit, and the community college system has successfully aligned funding, metrics, and data towards the goal of delivering the one million more skilled workers.


Leah Grassini Moehle

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