The new executive director of the Glendale College Foundation, Paola Santana, has returned to her alma mater to begin her first full week in her new role.
Santana’s first official day on the job was Aug. 17 in time for GCC’s new school year which began Aug. 28.
Santana is a first-generation and community college transfer student. She attended Glendale Community College and went on to earn a baccalaureate degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s in higher education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
As a GCC student, she was a recipient of Glendale College Foundation Scholarships and has since dedicated her life to furthering the academic pursuits of the next generation. She has more than 15 years of experience working across local government, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. She most recently served as strategy officer for state policy for the Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis, where she supported state efforts to increase postsecondary attainment and address racial disparities in attainment.
Previously, Santana led UNITE-LA’s college access and success portfolio and served as an adviser to board members on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. She has an extensive record of support for educational equity and improved support for students.
“I am delighted to be joining the Glendale College Foundation,” Santana said. “Having been selected to contribute to the success of an institution that has had such a big impact on my life is truly an honor. As a first-generation student, Glendale Community College opened doors to many opportunities that I could not have imagined and the support of the Foundation allowed me to dream big and achieve my goals. I am looking forward to making a meaningful impact on the lives of students and the community that we serve.”
Santana was selected through a rigorous process that included a candidate forum with questions provided by GCC constituent groups.
“Paola demonstrated a breadth of professional and personal experience that makes her an outstanding fit for the college,” said Ryan Cornner, GCC superintendent/president. “She not only understands our college mission, she has lived it. I value her insight and am pleased to add Paola’s voice to the campus dialogue. I’m thrilled she is joining the GCC family.”
Glendale College Foundation Board President Jennifer Bertolet said, “On behalf of the entire board of the Foundation, I am looking forward to working with Paola as she brings her wealth of experience back to GCC. She has incredible qualifications to bring to the position, along with her personal experience as a former student at GCC, which will be so valuable to the Foundation and our goals. The Foundation is in an excellent position after the strong leadership of Lisa Brooks, and we are excited for the future with Paola as our new executive director.”
Santana replaces Lisa Brooks, who retired July 31, after leading the foundation for 14 years.
First published in the September 2 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.