Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 11, 2014

Pleasanton nonprofit leader named to college post

Arnoldo Avalos to serve on state community college board

by Jeb Bing

Arnoldo Avalos, the founder and CEO of the Pleasanton-based Avalos Foundation, has been appointed to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Avalos, 43, and wife Alma Ruth, who live in Pleasanton, launched the Avalos Foundation last December as a private, family nonprofit with a focus on helping Latinos. Its primary mission is to provide financial support for students who lack the resources to succeed.

Avalos was head of compensation and global compensation manager at Facebook from 2008 to 2013 and senior global compensation manager for Google from 2006 to 2008.

He also held multiple positions at Cisco Systems from 1999 to 2006, including compensation manager, corporate recruiter and manager of business operations. He was a system consultant at Andersen Consulting from 1996 to 1999 and farm manager for Avalos Farms from 1989 to 1996.

Avalos is a member of the Latino Community Foundation Board of Trustees and a founding member of Hermanos Unidos.

If confirmed by the State Senate, Avalos, who is a Democrat, will earn $100 a day when attending Community Colleges board meetings.

Avalos immigrated from Juchitlan Jalisco to Gridley, Calif. as the youngest of seven siblings. He and his family worked as migrant farm workers toiling in the peach, prune, and cherry orchards. During the summers, the family traveled to Oregon, Washington and Montana, following the seasonal fruit harvest.

Determined to leave the arduous migrant lifestyle, Avalos gained admission to UC Berkeley after graduating from Gridley High School, ultimately graduating with honors to earn a bachelor's degree in history. He then received a master's degree in government from Harvard University, after which he moved back to California where he began a career at Cisco Systems. He later accepted management positions at Google, and then at Facebook.

His wife, Alma Ruth Gutierrez-Avalos, also earned a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley, and later a master's degree in education from Cal State East Bay. She now teaches a dual immersion class in Spanish and English at Valley View Elementary School in Pleasanton.

"Education has been the greatest equalizer in our lives," Arnoldo Avalos said in talking about the new foundation. "The U.S. gave us many opportunities to create a better future for ourselves and our families. We want to ensure that young Latino students have the support that they need to do the same."

The Avalos Foundation will be funding 10 scholarships a year, with the potential for annual renewal to reach a goal of funding 40 students every year, he said.

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