Announced Monday, public input forums held Tuesday; videos will be posted and available for public viewing and input through Thursday night
By Erin Brooks, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, 4CD
The Contra Costa Community College District (District) has announced the selection of three finalists for the position of President of Contra Costa College in San Pablo. The finalists are: Damon A. Bell, Ed.D., Tia Robinson-Cooper, Ed.D., and Tina Vasconcellos, Ph.D.
Three separate public forums were scheduled for Tuesday, May 4th. (Publisher’s note: the Herald did not receive the press release announcing the three finalists and forums until Monday night, May 3rd and the subject line did not mention Tuesday’s forums).
For those who were unable to participate in the May 4th public forums, links to all three recorded Zoom sessions will be made available on the District website. Access to the recordings and comment box will be available until midnight on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (For more information click here)
Following the public forums, Chancellor Bryan Reece will conduct final interviews of the candidates on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, and is expected to announce the selection of a candidate soon thereafter. The permanent CCC President will begin July 1, 2021.
Dr. Damon A. Bell has been serving as the Interim President for Contra Costa College since last fall. He has nearly 30 years of higher education experience in the community college and California State University systems. Prior to working at Contra Costa College, Dr. Bell served as Interim President at Ventura College and as Vice President for Student Services at Olympic, San Bernardino Valley, and San Diego Mesa colleges.
He is very dedicated to working in the community. He is a Rotarian and a life member of the NAACP and have served on several foundation boards. He spent four years serving in various leadership positions including president for the Washington State Student Services Commission. He has served on multiple state-wide committees and taskforces. Also, he served as a Guided Pathways Change Facilitator for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
Dr. Bell completed an associate degree from Los Angeles Harbor College and went on to earn a bachelor’s in Philosophy from the UC San Diego, a master’s in Student Personnel in Higher Education from the University of Georgia, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Community College Leadership from CSU Fullerton. He is a true product of the California higher education system.
Dr. Tia Robinson-Cooper currently serves as the provost and vice-president of academic affairs/chief academic officer at Inver Hills Community College, a campus of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. As provost, she launched the “PERC Promise”, a comprehensive plan to: (re)image student success and advance diversity, equity and inclusion; increase student persistence, retention, graduation and transfer; closing equity gaps; and cultivating an environment that embraces diverse perspectives.
Prior to her appointment, she served as the vice-president of academic affairs at East Central College. She was instrumental in in increasing student enrollment and retention; advancing early college programs; improving student success outcomes and fostering a holistic student experience; and establishing partnerships with nonprofit and business leaders. Before Dr. Robinson-Cooper’s tenure at East Central, she served in numerous positions including dean of teaching and learning (Rock Valley College); associate dean and dean of instruction (Olive-Harvey College); dean of academic affairs (Northwestern College); and adjunct faculty appointments (City Colleges of Chicago and University of Phoenix).
Dr. Robinson-Cooper earned her A.S. in Business from Kishwaukee College, a B.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Northern Illinois University, an MBA and M.S. in Managerial Leadership & Organizational Development both from National Louis University, and an Ed.D. in Counseling & Adult Higher Education from Northern Illinois University.
Dr. Tina Vasconcellos is a passionate educator who believes in the transformative impact community colleges have on students and communities. She is a leader who is deeply committed to equity, racial and social justice.
Her commitment is grounded in her Hispanic heritage where her families immigrated to America as farm workers to create opportunities for their children. Dr. Vasconcellos attributes her strong sense of family, community and a commitment to giving back and helping others succeed to her ancestors. She is a first generation college graduate who like many community college students initially lacked the cultural capital to successfully navigate the academy.
Dr. Vasconcellos earned a Ph.D. focused on community college leadership from a national perspective from Colorado State University and a Master’s degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis in multicultural and holistic counseling from John F. Kennedy University. Her degrees along with more than 20 years as a community college educator serve as her foundation. Dr. Vasconcellos has a reputation of being inclusive, transparent, coalition building and cultivating academic excellence.
Dr. Vasconcellos is an experienced executive leader and is in her fifth year serving as the Vice President of Student Services and Accreditation Liaison Officer at College of Alameda where she has infused the Division with a commitment to cultural humility and inclusiveness in support of employee development and student success. She is honored to have served in both instruction and student services throughout her tenure as a community college educator, providing her with a unique lens of the college and most importantly the student experience. As tenured faculty, she taught and counseled students and developed two career education-transfer programs designed to support student self-sufficiency, education and career goal achievement. Dr. Vasconcellos served as Dean of Academic and Student affairs at Laney College and Merritt College where her portfolio included career education, liberal arts and student services departments. She is adept at leading college and district wide initiatives. Dr. Vasconcellos successfully led Educational Master Planning processes, a district wide mission statement review and affirmation and is currently leading the College of Alameda Institutional Self Evaluation Process. Dr. Vasconcellos has excellent fiscal acumen with experience managing general and categorical funds, Federal, State, and local grants and providing oversight for Capital projects and parcel tax initiatives.
Dr. Vasconcellos served as a Chief Student Services Officers (CSSO) state-wide representative for several years advocating for the diverse needs of community college students. She served as the CSSO representative on the CCCO Basic Skills Advisory Committee for two terms, was appointed to the CCCO IEPI Executive Committee and is currently the CSSO Executive Board Region 3 Representative where she leads the New CSSO Virtual Pre-Conference. Dr. Vasconcellos is an active member of ACCCA and is a mentor for community college professionals with goals of serving as an administrator.
Dr. Vasconcellos has a rich history of community service. She recently received a commendation for her partnership with the Eat.Learn.Play Foundation and World Central Kitchen, leveraging over $900,000 to address food insecurities for students and the community. She is committed to working with justice impacted communities and serves as education lead for the Alameda County Re-entry Strategic Plan implementation. Dr. Vasconcellos also serves as a Board Member for the Diversity in Health Training Institute (DHTI) empowering immigrants and refugees from all countries in continuing their education and employment in the health profession and to improve healthcare in Alameda and Contra Costa by making the workforce more diverse.
In the About section of her LinkedIn profile, where she lists her pronouns as “She, her, hers”, Vasconcellos quotes Nelson Mandella who said, “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
About the District
The Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The 4CD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. 4CD is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez. For more information visit www.4cd.edu.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.