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 Board of Trustees Biographies

This page presents biographies of the members of the Board of Trustees:
Trustee Area 2  
Trustee Area 5  
Trustee Area 4  
Trustee Area 1  
Trustee Area 3  

Vicky 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 Policy.

Demographic Information on Trustee Area 2:

Total Population 80,171
Hispanic 84.53%
White 11.36%
Black/Am 0.51%
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.32%
Asian 2.36%
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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Madeline Shapiro, Trustee Area 5
Vice President
Term of Office 2013-201

Ms. Shapiro was re-elected to the Board of Trustees in November 4, 2013.  She represents Trustee Area 5, which includes East Whittier.  


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 granddaughter.

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
Hispanic 52.38%
White 40.55%
Black/AM 0.99%
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.29%
Asian 3.84%
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

Gary Mendez was first elected to the Rio Hondo Community College District Board of Trustees in November 1999.  He was re-elected in 2003, 2007, and 2011.  Trustee Mendez was elected as Clerk of the Board of Trustees at the Annual Organizational Meeting held in December, 2008.  Mr. Mendez represents Trustee Area 4, which includes Los Nietos, Santa Fe Springs, South Whittier and North Norwalk.


Mr. 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 government.

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 Superintendent/President;
  • Increasing 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;
  • Ensuring proactive financial planning to ensure a balanced budget;
  • Encouraging policies and programs that guarantee a well-balanced academic program and quality student support services;
  • Increasing access to the College by making public transportation for students a priority and by working on initiatives to subsidize student passes; and
  • Responding 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. 

After graduation, 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 Committee.

Mr. Mendez is President and CEO of Urban Strategies (West), a governmental, public and political affairs firm. 

Mr. Mendez holds a third degree Black Belt in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu/Kenpo Karate and has taught the art to students of all ages for more than 20 years. 


Demographic Information on Trustee Area 4:

Total Population 80,359
Hispanic 74.43%
White 17.35%
Black/AM 2.23%
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.42%
Asian 4.12%
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 Garc
ía, 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. 


Norma Edith 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 recreational acreage.

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 and developed 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
Hispanic 70.38%
White 7.83%
Black/AM 0.66%
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.30%
Asian 19.73%
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 4, 2013.  Sh
e 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 retired.

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
Hispanic 76.64%
White 12.69%
Black/AM .052%
Am. Indian/Alaskan 0.35%
Asian 8.60%
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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