Board of Trustees Biographies
Santana, Trustee Area 2
Term of Office 2011-2015
Ms. Santana was elected to the Board of Trustees November 8,
2011. She represents Trustee Area 2 which includes the City
of Pico Rivera.
Vicky Santana presently works as a manager for the Los
Angeles County Probation Department after having served for
seven years with Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina
as Senior Justice Deputy, of which five years she also was
the supervisor’s Education Deputy. During this time, Santana
oversaw $4 billion worth of law enforcement-related budgets,
and worked directly alongside the supervisor to
significantly increase Sheriff’s Deputy patrol levels in
unincorporated neighborhoods, like West Whittier, for the
first time in 30 years. They also joined Sheriff Lee Baca to
bring the Graffiti Tracker to Pico Rivera, widely credited
for putting a huge dent in the city’s graffiti problem.
In her educational capacity with the supervisor, Santana
helped roll out the LA Universal Preschool (LAUP) initiative
to provide preschool to all four-year-olds in underserved
communities—including Pico Rivera and West Whittier. Santana
also monitored the Los Angeles County Office of Education,
the largest HEAD Start program administrator in the nation.
Born in East Los Angeles and a product of the Montebello
Unified School District, Santana graduated at the top of her
Bell Gardens High School class, and was the first in her
family to attend an Ivy League institution: Columbia
University. She attributes her escape from poverty to the
education she obtained at Whittier College, where she earned
a Bachelor’s Degree. Santana then spent several years in the
private sector, but when she unexpectedly received the
opportunity to study at Harvard University’s prestigious
Kennedy School of Government, Santana took it, and
ultimately graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public
Demographic Information on Trustee Area 2:
Total Population 80,171
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.32%
Nat. Hawaiian/Other Pl 0.07%
Other Race 0.08%
Pop of 2 or more Races 0.77%
Voting Population 69.46%
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Trustee Area 5
Term of Office 2013-2017
Ms. Shapiro was re-elected to the Board of
Trustees in November 4, 2013. She represents Trustee Area 5, which includes
Madeline Shapiro grew up in Pico Rivera attending
public schools and Rio Hondo Community College before
earning a Business Administration degree from California
State University at Long Beach. She moved into the
East Whittier area before the birth of her daughter over
thirty-five years ago. She also has a son and a
After becoming a mother she grew interested in
changing professions from accounting to teaching. She
started as a parent volunteer and became an instructional
aide and substitute teacher while earning a teaching
credential from California State University at Fullerton.
Ms. Shapiro has taught in the East Whittier City
School District for over 24 years where she has been
actively involved as a teacher-leader well beyond the
classroom including serving as past president of the East
Whittier Education Association.
Presently Madeline Shapiro serves as secretary to
the California Teachers Association/Association for Better
Citizenship Committee, is political chair of the
Southeastern Service Center Council and is the CTA State
Council Member for her local association. She
continues to serve as an elected delegate for the state
Democratic Party in the 56th Assembly District. For
the last several years she has also served on the executive
board of the Rio Hondo Symphony Association.
Demographic Information on Trustee Area #5:
Total Population 80,316
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.29%
Nat. Hawaiian/Other Pl 0.12%
Other Race 0.12%
Pop of 2 or more Races 1.72%
Voting Population 71.25%
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Gary Mendez, Trustee Area 4
Term of Office 2011-2015
was first elected to the Rio Hondo Community College District Board of
Trustees in November 1999. He was re-elected in 2003, 2007, and
Trustee Mendez was elected as Clerk of the Board
of Trustees at the Annual Organizational Meeting held in December, 2008.
represents Trustee Area 4, which includes Los Nietos, Santa Fe Springs,
South Whittier and North Norwalk.
Mendez is proud to be a public servant in the traditional sense, with core
values of duty, honor, compassion, and service. Mr. Mendez began giving
back by working with community organizations and leaders long respected for
their values and commitment.
His public service
record includes working in local, county, regional, state and federal
In his seven years on the Board, Mr. Mendez has been a
vocal advocate for students. His goal is to ensure that Rio Hondo
successfully meets the post-secondary educational needs of our communities now
and in the years to come. His accomplishments include:
Actively working to pass
Measure A, the college’s first facilities construction bond in more than 40
years. Bond funds will allow for complete rehabilitation and augmentation of
the Rio Hondo College campus;
Authoring the resolution
establishing priority registration for US War Veterans;
Spearheading efforts to
create off-site centers in South Whittier and El Monte to increase access to
educational opportunities close to home;
Assisting single mothers
attending Rio Hondo by creating a scholarship in honor of his mother Ruby
and grandmother Rose;
Working to diversify the
College’s administrative team to ensure the community sees itself in Rio
Hondo’s internal leadership, which led to hiring the first Latina
access to Rio Hondo by enhancing community outreach and by promoting the
college’s educational opportunities to all potential students in the
community college district;
proactive financial planning to ensure a balanced budget;
policies and programs that guarantee a well-balanced academic program and
quality student support services;
access to the College by making public transportation for students a
priority and by working on initiatives to subsidize student passes;
to the needs of working families who want to attend college by creating Rio
Hondo’s first weekend accelerated program that allows students to attend
classes outside their work hours.
Gary Mendez was born
and raised in the Los Nietos-Whittier area, where his family has lived since
1856. He graduated from Whittier High School and at age 18 was elected as
the State Youth Chairman of the American GI Forum, a congressionally-chartered
national veteran’s organization dedicated to civil rights and education.
Mr. Mendez was also elected to serve as its National Youth Chairman.
During his tenure, he worked with the American GI Forum to create separate
districts/areas of representation for the Rio Hondo College Board of Trustees.
Mr. Mendez also worked with the Mexican American Political Association and the
United Farm Workers on issues important to his community.
While earning his
associate’s degree in political science and paralegal studies at Rio Hondo, Mr.
Mendez was elected to serve as student representative on the Rio Hondo Community
College District Board of Trustees. Mr. Mendez was also active in the
Associated Student Body (ASB), the statewide Council of Student Body
Governments, the California Student Association of Community Colleges and was
elected student member of the California Community College Trustee Board.
He also founded and was the first president of the Rio Hondo Young Democrats.
Mr. Mendez earned
his bachelor’s degree in Government, with a minor in Ancient History, at
California State University, Sacramento. As a student, he worked for the
Chief Clerk (Parliamentarian) of the California Assembly. Additionally,
Mr. Mendez worked for various members of the legislature in their Sacramento
offices and on their campaigns.
Mr. Mendez worked as a paralegal for the Los Angeles County Chicano Employees
Association preparing civil rights cases and employee grievances. He also
served in the Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG)
Governmental Affairs Department, working on regional issues that impact
communities throughout Southern California.
Mr. Mendez has
served as a member of then-Assemblywoman Grace Napolitano’s legislative staff,
and as her volunteer coordinator and field director during her bid for Congress.
He was special assistant to the Congresswoman after she was elected to the House
of Representatives. Mr. Mendez has also worked as a field deputy for
then-Assemblyman Thomas Calderon.
In 2004, Mr. Mendez
was elected to the Democratic Party Los Angeles County Central Committee by
democratic voters in the 56th Assembly District. In May, 2005,
he was elected to serve on the Executive Board of the California Democratic
Party. In the same year, State Party Chairman Art Torres appointed Mr.
Mendez to serve on the State Democratic Party’s Organizational Development
Mr. Mendez is
President and CEO of Urban Strategies (West), a governmental, public and
political affairs firm.
a third degree Black Belt in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu/Kenpo Karate and
taught the art to students of all ages for more than 20 years.
Demographic Information on Trustee Area 4:
Total Population 80,359
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.42%
Nat. Hawaiian/Other Pl 0.18%
Other Race 0.09%
Pop of 2 or more Races 1.18%
Voting Population 67.79%
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Norma Edith García, Trustee Area 1
Term of Office 2009-2013
Ms. Garcia was was elected to the Board of Trustees in November, 2009.
She represents Trustee Area 1 which includes the City
of El Monte.
García attended Citrus Community College, transferred and
graduated from UCLA, earning a B.A. in Political Science and
M.A. in Urban Planning. She presently serves as the Deputy
Director of the Planning and Development Agency for Los Angeles
County Parks and Recreation. As the Deputy Director, Ms. García
oversees environmental & regulatory permitting, land acquisition
& obligation, park & facility master planning, architecture &
design, and water & environmental planning for an inventory of
94 local and regional parks, 14 lakes and lagoons, 15 natural
areas, 4 arboreta and botanic gardens and 65,528 of
Previously, Ms. García
served as the Community
and Environmental Deputy to Los Angeles County Board of
Supervisor Gloria Molina and was responsible for policy
development in a myriad of environmental and open space issues.
As an advisor to Supervisor Molina, Ms. García was instrumental
in the creation of the Elysian Valley Gateway in Los Angeles,
Thienes Gateway Park in South El Monte, San Jose Creek Vista in
Unincorporated Avocado Heights, Cudahy/Riverfront Greenway
Project, and various other Emerald Necklace projects in the San
Gabriel Valley. Prior to that, she served as an Associate
Regional Planner for the Southern
California Association of Governments (SCAG) where she was responsible
for regional housing planning and policy development
specific regional plans and coordinating housing planning
activities among regional stakeholders.
Ms. García is an ardent believer of building
better communities, and works to achieve this through her active
participation in numerous civic and professional organizations,
including: El Monte Coalition of Latino Professionals (emCLP),
Latino Urban Forum, and Hispanics Organized for Political
Equality (HOPE). Ms. García currently serves as the Chair of
the California Community Foundation’s ‘Community Building
Initiative’, which is a 10-year effort to revitalize the
community by engaging residents and developing their leadership,
and improving the physical environment and social services. Ms.
García formerly served as the Chair of the El Monte City
Planning Commission and the Watershed Conservation Authority for
the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles River Watersheds.
Ms. García has been honored as the 49th Assembly
District Latina of the Year in Community Involvement, graduated
from the HOPE Leadership Institute, and was awarded a Conflict
Resolution Fellowship through the U.S. State Department, which
allowed her travel and focus on resolving complex planning
issues in Indonesia. Ms. García enjoys traveling, cycling, and
spending time outdoors.
Ms. García is a life-long resident of the
beautiful community of El Monte.
Demographic Information on Trustee Area #1:
Total Population 80,402
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.30%
Nat. Hawaiian/Other Pl 0.08%
Other Race 0.09%
Pop of 2 or more Races 0.94%
Voting Population 66.12%
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Mary Ann Pacheco, Trustee Area 3 ,
Term of Office 2013-2015
Ms. Mary Ann Pacheco was elected to the Board of Trustees on November
She represents Trustee Area 3 which includes
the City of Whittier and
South El Monte.
Honorable Mary Ann Pacheco
Trustee Pacheco was born in Tucson, Arizona, and
grew up in southern California. She received her BA in
English and Ethnic Studies cum laude from the University of
Southern California and her MA in English from the
University of California at Los Angeles. While at USC
she was a student leader, helping to found USC’s El Centro
Chicano as well as hosting the first national Chicano
literature festival, the Festival de Flor y Canto and
co-editing the anthology which resulted from that festival.
Ms. Pacheco was a full-time teacher of English at
Rio Hondo College for thirty-seven years. She taught
the full range of composition classes as well as grammar and
literature classes. She also was the Writing Workshop
coordinator, the assessment coordinator, the Puente
coordinator, and a Summer Bridge instructor. She
retired from full-time teaching but continued teaching on a
part-time basis for one more year. She is now fully
As a teacher leader, Ms. Pacheco served as
president of the Rio Hondo College Faculty
Association/CCA/CTA/NEA, the Rio Hondo College Academic
Senate, and the statewide CTA Community College Association.
She represented higher education on the CTA Board of
Directors, the NEA Board of Directors, and the
CTA/ABC/Political Allocations Committee. She served on
the Board of Directors of the NEA’s Foundation for the
Improvement of Education, and she has attended the NEA
Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly for 34 years as a
higher education and Hispanic leader. Finally, Ms.
Pacheco has served as a delegate or observer at the World
Congress of Education International on four continents.
Ms. Pacheco has been honored with the CTA César E.
Chávez Si Se Puede Human Rights Award and the James
Davenport Award of the National Council for Higher Education
(NEA). She was the 2012 recipient of the NEA Human and
Civil Rights Award named in honor or Cesar Chavez: the
Accion y Compromiso Award. She has received two state-wide
and two local WHO (We Honor Ours) awards from the California
Teachers Association. Recently, the CTA Community
College Association established the Mary Ann Pacheco Award
to recognize, each year, those who have supported and
promoted ethnic minority issues and students on college
campuses. In 2012 she was selected and honored as
Fellow of the College by Rio Hondo College.
Demographic Information on Trustee Area 3:
Total Population 80,171
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.35%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pl 0.09%
Other Race 0.12%
Pop of 2 or more Races 0.99%
Voting Population 68.00%
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