Field of contenders for Las Positas College president narrowed to five finalists

Open forum Wednesday will give public chance to question top candidates

More than a year after the search for the next Las Positas College president began, the pool of contenders has narrowed to a field of five finalists from around the state.

The finalists, all with advanced degrees and extensive experience in education, are a “highly competitive and outstanding group of candidates from throughout the region, state and nation,” LPC representatives said in a statement late this week announcing the finalist list.

On Wednesday (Sept. 25), each finalist will participate in an open forum at the Livermore community college campus that the public is invited and encouraged to attend. Forums are open to students, staff, faculty, administrators and the general public.

LPC has been looking for a new permanent leader since former president Barry Russell retired in April 2018 after five years at its helm. Interim president Roanna Bennie, who was vice president of academic services at the time, was appointed to temporarily fill the position.

The Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Board of Trustees had originally expected to select the new president by last July, but the process extended into the 2019-20 academic year -- and now coincides with the board's search for a new district chancellor.

"The goal is to have a permanent president approved by the Board before the end of this calendar year, with a start date of January 2020," said Guisselle Nuñez, director of public relations at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District.

Three of the LPC president finalists are from the Bay Area, including Tina Vasconcellos, who currently serves at the College of Alameda in Alameda as vice president of student services and accreditation liaison officer. Before then, she was dean of academic and student affairs at Laney College and Merritt College in Oakland. Vasconcellos also received her Master of Counseling psychology from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill.

Don Miller is another applicant who also works at the College of Alameda, as vice president of instruction, and serves as vice president of the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers organization. Miller also has a history with LPC; previously, he was the school’s interim vice president of academic services and a dean of academic services for the division of arts and humanities and dean of learning communities. Miller holds a doctorate degree in philosophy from the University of Utah.

Another East Bay candidate is Katrina VanderWoude, the current president of Contra Costa College in San Pablo. VanderWoude moved to the area from San Diego County, where she had been vice president of academic affairs at Grossmont College. She earned a doctorate degree in education leadership from Eastern Michigan University.

A couple of people from outside the region who made the final cut include Marsha Gable, who also has ties to Grossmont College as its current vice president of student services. She was also dean of counseling services at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon. Gable has a Doctor of Education in educational leadership from San Diego State University.

Dyrell Foster is also from Southern California but started his career in the Bay Area. Now vice president of student services at Moreno Valley College in Riverside County, he previously worked as an administrator at San Jose State University and Evergreen Valley College in San Jose. Foster has a Doctor of Education from the University of Southern California.

At the public forum Wednesday, each candidate will have a brief introduction followed by a question and answer session. Attendees will receive feedback forms, and those forms will be collected at the end and given to the interim chancellor for review. Those who cannot attend in person can view video recordings of all forums by the Thursday morning (Sept. 26).

The open forum is set for Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the Las Positas College Mertes Center for the Arts, Building 4000, 3000 Campus Hill Drive in Livermore.

For questions or suggestions, contact district vice chancellor of human resources Wyman Fong at 485-5261 or email

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