New Presidential Responsibilities for Angélica Garcia ’98 — in California and for the White House

She will take responsibilities as president of Santa Rosa Junior College in July. And Presidential Biden announced he will name her to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. 

by SMC Marketing and Communications Staff | May 1, 2023

April was a big month for Angélica Garcia '98: Santa Rosa Junior College announced that Garcia will assume responsibilities as the next superintendent and president of the college in July 2023. And the White House announced that President Biden intends to name her to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities—alongside television creator and producer Shonda Rhimes, actor and director George Clooney, and co-chair Lady Gaga.


Superintendent and President

On April 11, the Sonoma County Junior College District Board of Trustees announced Garcia as the college’s next president. Garcia has been serving as the president of Berkeley City College since 2020. A release announcing the appointment notes:

Dr. Garcia is an equity-minded educational leader who is passionate about issues of access, equity, and student success in higher education. She is known for inclusive and strategic leadership. She believes that community colleges serve as pathways to liberation and upward social mobility for historically minoritized communities and promotes this in institutional reform efforts, such as Guided Pathways, apprenticeship programs, dual enrollment, and through community outreach for K12 students and adult learners. While President of Berkeley City College, she successfully led the college through accreditation re-affirmation and fiscal stabilization efforts. Dr. Garcia has led the college through its Educational Master Plan process, focusing on the impact a community college has on disrupting generational poverty, upward social mobility, and equitable student outcomes.


First in Her Family to Attend College

At Saint Mary’s College of California, Garcia earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies. She went on to complete a master’s in Social Work and a doctorate in Educational Leadership at San Diego State University. Garcia returned to Saint Mary’s to direct the High Potential Program, the Academic Advising Center, and Student Academic Support Services before taking positions with Lewis and Clark College, Skyline College, and Berkeley City College.

In 2019 Garcia was presented with the Signum Fidei Award by the Saint Mary’s Alumni Association. The award recognized her outstanding participation in the goals of higher education, in the spirit of the founder of the Christian Brothers, patron of all teachers, Saint John Baptist De La Salle.

In 2021 Garcia delivered the Saint Mary’s Commencement Address. As was noted at the time, speaking to the graduating classes was also deeply meaningful to Garcia, who was the first in her family to attend college. “Identifying as a first-generation Chicano Latino student at Saint Mary’s, there were definitely challenges,” she told those gathered, “but there were also beautiful experiences that taught me that while we are learners, acknowledging our varied backgrounds, we are also contributors.” She also spoke of the community of Saint Mary’s students that stretches across generations: “For the first-gen students, the international students, the immigrant students—the way is being paved for them by the graduates.”


White House Appointment

On April 13 the White House announced that President Biden intended to appoint Angelica Garcia to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. In announcing the planned appointment, a release from the White House stated:


Dr. Angélica Garcia is an educational leader who is passionate about issues of access, equity, and student success in higher education. Garcia serves as the President of Berkeley City College, which is recognized as an Hispanic Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution, both proud symbols of being the community’s college. Unapologetically, she believes community colleges provide liberatory education experiences that disrupt the status quo, especially for historically minoritized communities. She is a Co-Founder and Board Member of COLEGAS, a statewide organization focused on advocacy and development of Latinx professionals in California Community Colleges, and has a proven record of equity-minded leadership. Garcia serves on the Puente Project Advisory Board, the national LGTBQ Leaders in Higher Education Board, and previously on the Board of Directors for Higher Education Resource Services. Appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, she served as the Vice Chair for the Student-Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee, charged with reviewing legislation, data, and its impact on the California Community Colleges. She has been a fellow with the Aspen Presidential Institute, the National Community College Hispanic Council, and the UC Davis Wheelhouse Institute, all of which are leadership programs focused on equitable student outcomes. Garcia is a proud second-generation Latina and first-generation college graduate, who earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership at San Francisco State University, a master’s in social work at San Diego State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal and Civic Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California. Garcia has been appointed to be the Superintendent/President of Santa Rosa Junior College, effective July 1, 2023.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) was founded in 1982 by Executive Order to advise the President on cultural policy. The First Lady has historically served as Honorary Chair of the Committee, which is composed of members appointed by the President. Private committee members include prominent artists, scholars, and philanthropists who have demonstrated a serious commitment to the arts and humanities. Public members represent the heads of key federal agencies with a role in culture, including the Chairs of the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Librarian of Congress, the Secretary of the Smithsonian, and the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, among others. PCAH advises the President and the heads of U.S. cultural agencies on policy, philanthropic and private sector engagement, and other efforts to enhance federal support for the arts, humanities, and museum and library services. The PCAH will also engage the nation’s artists, humanities scholars, and cultural heritage practitioners to promote excellence in the arts, humanities, and museum and library services and demonstrate their relevance to the country’s health, economy, equity, and civic life. Over the past 40 years, PCAH has catalyzed federal programs and played a vital role in the advancement of arts and humanities education, cultural diplomacy, and the creative economy.


The committee is co-chaired by producer Bruce Cohen and musician Lady Gaga. Along with appointments of Hollywood luminaries Shonda Rhimes and George Clooney, this year President Biden announced that he intends to appoint musician Jon Batiste, actress Jennifer Garner, actor Troy Kotsur, writer and actress Anna Deavere Smith, and others. See the full list in the White House release.


READ MORE: The announcement of Angélica Garcia as Superintendent / President of Santa Rosa Junior College and the release from the White House announcing her appointment to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.