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Meet the 4 candidates for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District board of trustees

Three incumbents, one challenger vie for three seats

The race for three open seats on the Foothill-De Anza Community College is made up of four candidates. Three are incumbents and the fourth is seeking a seat on the five-member board for the first time.

Read on for short biographies on each candidate.

Laura Casas

Laura Casas has served on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees for 15 years. Courtesy Laura Casas.

A 15-year member of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, Casas received a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and a bachelor's degree in political science from California State University, Northridge.

She chairs the district's Audit and Finance Committee. She has served as the board's representative to the California Community College Trustee Board and as representative to the Distance Education Technology and Educational Advisory Committee to the California State Chancellor's office on planning, vision and policy.

She has overseen the transition to online-only classes during the COVID-19 pandemic and delivered a balanced budget.

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Narrowing the achievement gap, providing a low-cost quality education while maintaining a balanced budget have been among her most rewarding accomplishments on the board. Also most meaningful to her, she says: maintaining one of the highest transfer rates from the district to four-year colleges and fighting for fair community college funding at the state level as a representative to the California Community College Trustee Board.

Peter Landsberger

Peter Landsberger has been involved with the Foothill-De Anza Community College District for over four decades. Courtesy Peter Landsberger.

Los Altos resident Peter Landsberger was first appointed Foothill-De Anza's first general counsel in 1978. In 1983, he was promoted to vice chancellor and served as the chancellor's chief deputy and executive in charge of all district office operations.

He is currently vice president of the Board of Trustees and is a member of the board of directors of the Foothill De Anza Foundation, the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, and UNITE-LA, an education related nonprofit organization in Los Angeles.

His education includes the Harvard Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School, Institute for Educational Management, Harvard Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley and Santa Monica College.

Landsberger said co-chairing the Measure G and H campaign and engaging the community to achieve clear majorities in support of both measures are among his highest achievements. He also provided leadership on the board when it needed to implement more than $17 million in budget reductions without seriously damaging high-quality instruction and student services, he said.

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"That was primarily accomplished through disciplined elimination of positions that became vacant through resignation or retirement. As a result, the pain and disruption of the adjustment was kept at moderate levels, and the focus of the reductions were, to the extent possible, kept away from the classroom," he said.

Govind Tatachari

Govind Tatachari is a newcomer to this year's race for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees. Courtesy Govind Tatachari.

Tatachari is the sole challenger seeking a board seat. A native of Jharia, Tatachari grew up in mining towns in eastern and central India.

"Education turned out to be the key enabler for me," he said. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Tatachari arrived in Silicon Valley in 1986. A U.S. naturalized citizen, he is a Cupertino resident.

As a technology professional with more than three decades of industry experience, Tatachari said he brings a deep understanding of what the industries of the 21st century need.

"I will use that to make the programs we offer more relevant using greater industry partnerships in both traditional and newly emergent areas. I bring in a strong technical background that complements the existing board members whose experiences are different," he said.

He is also focused on improving board transparency.

"Decisions wherein community surveys were undertaken need to be explained to the community via outreach within a timeframe. For example, the recent bond measure barely met the threshold to pass, which is surprising in our community which values education a lot," he said.

In the last few years, he has advocated for affordable housing solutions with an emphasis on homeless students at De Anza at the city level. In April 2019, he organized a forum on regional housing issues.

Also, he said, "I did a comparative analysis of performing arts centers in the neighboring cities and provided inputs to community leaders involved in discussions about the future of the Flint Center."

Gilbert Wong

Gilbert Wong is one of three incumbents on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District board of trustees who is seeking reelection. Courtesy Gilbert Wong.

The son of immigrants from China and Hong Kong, Wong was born and educated in Santa Clara Valley. A product of West Valley Community College, where he earned an associate of arts degree in business management, he graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and studied at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, earning a certificate of senior executives in state and local government.

A business owner, he was a two-term Cupertino mayor and City Council member. A Foothill-De Anza trustee, he has served as a member of the De Anza Commission, a board director of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Foundation, a board director-at-large of the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and as president of the ACCT Asian Pacific Islander and Native American Trustee Association.

During his board tenure, Wong passed four balanced budgets. Among his most gratifying achievements, he said, he attended the first dental hygiene bachelor of science graduation at Foothill College.

"I was able to advocate to not end the DACA program and to try to get it into law. I have been advocating for more funding for Federal Pell Grants and to get a comprehensive reform of the Higher Education Act this year as ACCT lobbyist to the U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and U.S. Senator Patty Murray in Washington, D.C.," he said.

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Meet the 4 candidates for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District board of trustees

Three incumbents, one challenger vie for three seats

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Sep 25, 2020, 6:58 am
Updated: Tue, Sep 29, 2020, 9:50 am

The race for three open seats on the Foothill-De Anza Community College is made up of four candidates. Three are incumbents and the fourth is seeking a seat on the five-member board for the first time.

Read on for short biographies on each candidate.

A 15-year member of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, Casas received a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and a bachelor's degree in political science from California State University, Northridge.

She chairs the district's Audit and Finance Committee. She has served as the board's representative to the California Community College Trustee Board and as representative to the Distance Education Technology and Educational Advisory Committee to the California State Chancellor's office on planning, vision and policy.

She has overseen the transition to online-only classes during the COVID-19 pandemic and delivered a balanced budget.

Narrowing the achievement gap, providing a low-cost quality education while maintaining a balanced budget have been among her most rewarding accomplishments on the board. Also most meaningful to her, she says: maintaining one of the highest transfer rates from the district to four-year colleges and fighting for fair community college funding at the state level as a representative to the California Community College Trustee Board.

Los Altos resident Peter Landsberger was first appointed Foothill-De Anza's first general counsel in 1978. In 1983, he was promoted to vice chancellor and served as the chancellor's chief deputy and executive in charge of all district office operations.

He is currently vice president of the Board of Trustees and is a member of the board of directors of the Foothill De Anza Foundation, the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, and UNITE-LA, an education related nonprofit organization in Los Angeles.

His education includes the Harvard Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School, Institute for Educational Management, Harvard Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley and Santa Monica College.

Landsberger said co-chairing the Measure G and H campaign and engaging the community to achieve clear majorities in support of both measures are among his highest achievements. He also provided leadership on the board when it needed to implement more than $17 million in budget reductions without seriously damaging high-quality instruction and student services, he said.

"That was primarily accomplished through disciplined elimination of positions that became vacant through resignation or retirement. As a result, the pain and disruption of the adjustment was kept at moderate levels, and the focus of the reductions were, to the extent possible, kept away from the classroom," he said.

Tatachari is the sole challenger seeking a board seat. A native of Jharia, Tatachari grew up in mining towns in eastern and central India.

"Education turned out to be the key enabler for me," he said. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Tatachari arrived in Silicon Valley in 1986. A U.S. naturalized citizen, he is a Cupertino resident.

As a technology professional with more than three decades of industry experience, Tatachari said he brings a deep understanding of what the industries of the 21st century need.

"I will use that to make the programs we offer more relevant using greater industry partnerships in both traditional and newly emergent areas. I bring in a strong technical background that complements the existing board members whose experiences are different," he said.

He is also focused on improving board transparency.

"Decisions wherein community surveys were undertaken need to be explained to the community via outreach within a timeframe. For example, the recent bond measure barely met the threshold to pass, which is surprising in our community which values education a lot," he said.

In the last few years, he has advocated for affordable housing solutions with an emphasis on homeless students at De Anza at the city level. In April 2019, he organized a forum on regional housing issues.

Also, he said, "I did a comparative analysis of performing arts centers in the neighboring cities and provided inputs to community leaders involved in discussions about the future of the Flint Center."

The son of immigrants from China and Hong Kong, Wong was born and educated in Santa Clara Valley. A product of West Valley Community College, where he earned an associate of arts degree in business management, he graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and studied at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, earning a certificate of senior executives in state and local government.

A business owner, he was a two-term Cupertino mayor and City Council member. A Foothill-De Anza trustee, he has served as a member of the De Anza Commission, a board director of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Foundation, a board director-at-large of the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and as president of the ACCT Asian Pacific Islander and Native American Trustee Association.

During his board tenure, Wong passed four balanced budgets. Among his most gratifying achievements, he said, he attended the first dental hygiene bachelor of science graduation at Foothill College.

"I was able to advocate to not end the DACA program and to try to get it into law. I have been advocating for more funding for Federal Pell Grants and to get a comprehensive reform of the Higher Education Act this year as ACCT lobbyist to the U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and U.S. Senator Patty Murray in Washington, D.C.," he said.

Comments

KEN HOROWITZ
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 27, 2020 at 6:34 pm
KEN HOROWITZ, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 27, 2020 at 6:34 pm

As a former employee of the FHDA District, a College President of the SMCC District and an interim Chancellor of a Los Angeles Community College District, Peter Landsberger is the most qualified candidate to continue as Trustee of the FHDA Board during this COVID-19 pandemic. He has by far the most experience of the candidates in leadership qualities.
I endorse him enthusiastically
Dr. Ken Horowitz
Foothill Professor 1977-present
Palo Alto resident for over 35 years


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