Presidential Search Finalist
Dr. Cynthia Olivo
Dr. Cynthia Olivo has been a professional in higher education since 1995. For 27 years she has served in capacities including Dean, Associate Vice President & Vice President. This is her 20th year as an administrator including six years at the university level and fourteen years in community college.
Dr. Olivo serves as the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services at Pasadena City College (PCC), serving 19,000 majority BIPOC students with a dual designation as an Hispanic Serving Institution and an ANAPISI school. Nearly half of all students are the first in their family to go to college and nearly all of the students qualify for free registration fees, meeting low income guidelines.
Her leadership qualities include leading innovation to improve racial equity and student success, consensus building and creating an engaging, inclusive environment to foster change in our practices– rooted in social justice.
- Collegewide, culturally relevant, First Year Experience Pathways Program
- PCC Complete Graduation Initiative focusing on BIPOC Student Completion
- Student Equity leadership to transform teaching, hiring, and services to students
These efforts have resulted in PCC earning distinctions such as:
- “Top 10 Community College in the Nation” by the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
- #1 Veterans Resource Center in California and top 10 in the nation by Military Times Magazine
- Champion in Higher Education for being #1 in Associate Degree for Transfers in California by the Campaign for College Opportunity
Cynthia was selected for the Aspen Presidential Fellows Program Class of 2017, completed the Harvard Institute for Management & Leadership in Education and participated in the American Council on Education Advancing to the Presidency Program.
Dr. Olivo currently leads a team that has secured $23 million dollars in grants in the past three years including:
- Hispanic Serving Institution Title V
- Hispanic Serving Institution STEM Title III
- TRIO Title V grants
- Los Angeles Scholars Investment Fund
She led the establishment of the following new resources:
- Veterans Resource Center
- QUEST Center for Queer + Undocumented Empowerment & Support to Thrive
- CORE Program—Communities Overcoming Recidivism through Education
- ASCEND Men of Color Program
- PCC LancerCare Basic Needs Center
- Black Student Success Center Expansion
- Foster Youth Center
- Virtual Support Center
- Providing strategic vision for the Center for Student Equity and Professional Development
Dr. Olivo serves in the following organizations:
- President of the Chief Student Services Officer Association in 2019-2020
- President of the statewide COLEGAS organization (California Community College Organizacion de Latinx Guidance, Empowerment & Advocacy for Success). COLEGAS is the Spanish word for “colleague, friend, someone I trust”
- Founding member of The Coalition, an organization including the African American Male Education Network & Development, the Association of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education and COLEGAS to address issues of racial equity
- She is also a member of the Policy & Leadership Trust a national organization through Jobs for the Future
- Serves on the Executive Board for National Community College Hispanic Council, a subset of the American Association of Community Colleges
Cynthia’s educational background includes:
- BA in Psychology and a Master of Science in Counseling from California State University San Bernardino.
- D. in Education with an emphasis in Urban Leadership from Claremont Graduate University in 2008
Dr. Olivo is the granddaughter of incredible migrant farmworkers, daughter of an amazing single mom, first in her family to go to college and third generation Chicana.
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