Chris Vonvenuto – Vice President of Business & Administration, Santa Monica College
As Vice President of Business & Administration at Santa Monica College, Christopher “Chris” Bonvenuto is responsible for the leadership and administration of all aspects of business operations, Fiscal Services, budget planning, contracts management, Risk Management, Facilities Planning, and Maintenance & Operations.
His primary duties and responsibilities include evaluating and planning with an eye towards maintaining Santa Monica College’s fiscal stability; in addition, he is tasked with providing guidance and direction for financing and borrowing strategies, including general obligation bonds, certificates of participation, tax revenue anticipation notes, etc. Chris oversees the planning and construction efforts for current and future campus facilities as well as maintenance, custodial, and grounds services for the District.
Chris has served Santa Monica College since May 2014 as Chief Director of Business Services. His prior roles include that of Vice President of Administration at Los Angeles Valley College (April 2013-April 2014).
Before that, at SMC, Chris held the positions of Director of Fiscal Services/Associate Vice President and Accounting Manager. At the beginning of his 15-year career, he was also a Senior Accountant/Financial Consultant at the Los Angeles City College Foundation. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy (Summa Cum Laude) from National University. Chris is a lifelong fan of the Yankees — and the Dodgers!
Shakerra Carter, Ed.D.
Shakerra Carter, Ed.D. – Vice President of Student Services, San Diego College of Continuing Education
Dr. Shakerra Carter is a student-centered higher education leader who firmly believes that education is the key to unlocking opportunities that change life trajectories and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Her work is inspired by her lived experience navigating higher education as a low-income, first-generation, student of color.
Dr. Carter has 15-years of professional experience working in colleges and universities across California’s public higher education system, including over 8 years of experience working in California community colleges. Currently, Dr. Carter serves as the Vice President of Student Services at San Diego College of Continuing Education, the largest provider of adult non-credit education in California. She uses a data-driven and equity-informed lens to lead a team of dedicated professionals and manages multi-million-dollar budgets which include federal and state categorical funds. She is responsible for establishing institutional processes and business practices that support the development of an inclusive and equitable learning environment to improve student recruitment, retention, persistence, and educational goal completion.
Dr. Carter’s former administrative roles include serving as Dean of Outreach, Student Affairs and Title IX Compliance for the San Diego Community College District; Interim Director of Student Activities at Grossmont College; Interim Supervisor of Counseling and Assessment at Grossmont College; Admissions Counselor at San Diego State University; and GEAR UP Grant Coordinator at the University of California, San Diego.
Dr. Carter values professional development and life-long learning as tools for personal and professional growth. She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees in educational leadership from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in child development from California State University, Chico.
A married mother of two, Dr. Carter and her family reside in San Diego, CA.
Silvia Cornejo – Dean, Higher Education, Southwestern College
An immigrant from Mexico, Silvia Cornejo came to the United States with the specific purpose of pursuing a higher education. After completing her degree and working in non-profit, Silvia joined Southwestern College and discovered the transformative power of community colleges and decided this would be her life-long career.
For the past 24 years, Silvia has served Southwestern College in various administrative capacities. As Dean of two education centers since 2011, Silvia is responsible for planning and implementing the operations, instruction, and student services offered to more than 4,000 students each semester. During her tenure as Dean, she has provided leadership to a variety of academic programs including Business, Family Studies, Public Safety, Nursing and Health Occupations. She serves on various District-wide committees and has been an executive member of her District’s Administrators Association for the past ten years.
Silvia represents her District in the communities served by the centers and is responsible for partnerships with local education, private, public and government organizations. She serves on several community advisory boards, including the local chamber of commerce, and is currently an ACCCA board member.
Silvia has a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies and two Bachelor of Art degrees, one in Communication Studies and one in Sociology, from the University of San Diego.
Dr. Mary-Jo Apigo
Dr. Mary-Jo Apigo – Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs, LA Pierce College
Dr. Mary-Jo Apigo’s experience in the community college system spans just over two decades. She is currently the Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs at Los Angeles Pierce College and is responsible for all operations of the academic program, including planning, policy development, and budget management.
In her prior 11 years as Dean at West Los Angeles College, her areas of responsibility included SLO assessment, the Distance Learning Program, professional development, Student Equity Plan, and grant projects. She also provided administrative leadership and support for four academic departments and played a key role in outcomes assessment and professional learning programs, which are the focus of her doctoral research.
Collaboration is a hallmark of her leadership. She is most proud of her work collaborating with faculty, classified professionals, and administrators on major, college-wide initiatives such as Achieving the Dream, the Student Equity Program, outcomes assessment, and Guided Pathways.
Monte E. Perez, Ph.D.
Monte E. Perez, Ph.D. – Interim President, Fullerton College
Dr. Perez graduated from James A. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, obtained his bachelor’s degree in Social Science Government at California State University, Los Angeles, and his master’s and Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Southern California.
His higher education career began as the assistant director of Admissions at Stanford University. Subsequently, he served as the director of the Educational Opportunity Program and Student Support Services at California State University, Los Angeles while also teaching Political Science and Chicano Studies. He implemented numerous outreach and retention programs at Stanford and California State University, Los Angeles. Selected as a policy fellow for the U.S. Department of Education, he became the Secretary’s senior policy analyst with expertise in financial aid, career education, TRIO, and youth employment. Upon returning to California, he was appointed the director of Community and Organizational Relations for the Educational Testing Service’s Western Regional Office and later promoted to Regional Office Director.
In 1997, Dr. Perez joined the National Hispanic University (NHU) in San Jose, California as the director of Institutional Research and was promoted to provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. He engineered the successful WASC accreditation for NHU as the first Latino non-profit independent senior college on the West Coast. In 2004, Dr. Perez was selected as the vice president of Student Services at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach, California where he was a senior administrator engaged in construction, enrollment management, accreditation, and fiscal management.
On July 1, 2008, Dr. Perez became the President of the Moreno Valley Campus. In addition to transfer programs, Moreno Valley College prepares students for vocational careers as Emergency Medical Technicians, Dental Hygienists, Dental Assistants, and Bio Technologists. The College offers vocational training in air conditioning, applied digital media, architectural graphics, automated system technicians, C++ programming, computer applications, Cosmetology, electronics, Fire Technology, and Engineering.
On May 2011, Dr. Perez assumed the presidency of Los Angeles Mission College (LAMC), which serves the San Fernando Valley and is one of the nine colleges of the Los Angeles Community College District. LAMC enjoys a high transfer rate to four-year universities and colleges. LAMC also prepares students for vocational careers in accounting, administration of justice, child development, computer applications, computer science information technology, food and nutrition, gerontology, marriage and family life, finance, food service management, interior design, paralegal studies, retail management, animation and 3D Design, Graphic and Web Design, Video Production, Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts.
Beginning July 2021 Dr. Perez retired after a distinguished career in higher education and senior leadership with the California Community Colleges.
Responding to a call for service in the California Community Colleges, Dr. Perez became the Interim President of Fullerton College in July 2022 while the North Orange County Community College District conducted a search for a permanent President. Dr. Perez will complete this assignment January 30, 2023.
Dr. Perez has participated in numerous academic presentations including his papers on the integration of academic affairs and student services at Oxford University, revising the California Master Plan in Higher Education at the University of Vienna, and a presentation on Exemplary Enrollment and Retention Strategies in Community Colleges at the Education Testing Service’s National Community College symposium. Dr. Perez also serves as the Chairman of the national Board of Governors for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities representing 550 two-year and four-year colleges. In 2017, he was appointed as a Trustee to the Los Angeles County Board of Education by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl of the 3rd District.
Dr. Jennifer Vega La Serna
Dr. Jennifer Vega La Serna – Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Academic Services, College of the Sequoias
Dr. Jennifer Vega La Serna is the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Academic Services at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California. She previously served as Dean of Arts and Letters at College of the Sequoias. Dr. Vega La Serna is a Commissioner for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. She recently served as President of the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers and the Board of Directors for the California Community College Athletics Association. She has presented at numerous state and national conferences on topics of accreditation, leadership, mentorship, student athlete academic success, college planning, educational equity and first-year student experiences. Dr. Vega La Serna has written and received numerous grants that support student success including Title V, Pathway to Law School, Basic Skills Student Outcomes and Transformations, and TRiO,
She holds a Doctorate in Education Policy, Planning, and Administration with a specialization in International and Intercultural Education and a Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Southern California, a Master’s in Education Counseling and Guidance from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a proud alumna of College of the Sequoias.
Dr. Derek Vergara
Dr. Derek Vergara – Dean of Students, Orange Coast College
Dr. Derek Vergara has over 35 years of experience in higher education, working in both four-year universities and community colleges. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, a Master of Arts in Social Science, emphasizing College Student Development, and received his Doctorate in Education and Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne. His dissertation research focused on freshman year persistence among first-generation and non-first-generation college students. He has dedicated much of his career to focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and ensuring institutional services and programs are developed through a DEI lens.
Throughout his career, Dr. Vergara has taught undergraduate college courses at community colleges and four-year institutions. He teaches in the master’s degree level courses in the Counseling and Student Development Program at Azusa Pacific University and taught in the School of Education and Organizational Leadership doctoral program at Brandman University.
For the past 4 years, he has been serving on the NASPA Region VI Advisory Board as the Community College Division Representative and represents the region on the NASPA National Board for Community Colleges Division.
Dr. Vergara enjoys spending quality time with his partner, Michelle, engaging in meaningful conversations with friends, drinking good wine, paddle boarding with his son, Jared, and taking in a good sunset at the beach.