Priya Jerome has over 23 years of combined private and public sector experience in managing and overseeing complex supply chain activities globally. Working in the private sector, Priya honed valuable skills in business process improvements to drive overall efficacies and cost savings across the entire supply chain. Over the past 12 years, she has managed the Procurement, Contracting, Central Services and Risk Management activities at two California community college districts, where she successfully implemented web based, fully integrated e-procurement systems and contracts management systems. These implementations were widely recognized for delivering cost, time, process, and productivity efficiencies. Priya joined the South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) team as the Executive Director of Procurement, Central Services, and Risk Management in 2018 where she continues to passionately focus her endeavors in providing the best possible educational experience to all students through the services her division provides. She leads a large, centralized division supporting two colleges and the District with a deep understanding of distinctive business needs in education, high currency in codes, statutes and regulations, and a unique private sector perspective for customer service and process improvements. In any given year she oversees an average of 1,500 contracts, 3,600 purchase orders, jointly valued over $210 million and over 25 large publicly procured bids and RFQ&Ps. Priya’s leadership and commitment to excellence has been recognized in the various personal and institutional awards/recognitions she has won. In 2019 she was recognized as the Administrator of the Year at SOCCCD and in 2020 she was recognized as the Southern California Procurement Professional of the Year. In 2021 her District won the much-coveted Orange County Turning Red Tape to Red Carpet Award for Incorporating Innovative Technology for converting SOCCCD into a Fully Online Bidding, Contracting and Public Procurement Organization an effort she spearheaded from start to successful completion. Priya is active in several state organizations in support of community college procurement and risk management initiatives. She is the Vice President of the board for the Protected Insurance Program for Schools and Community Colleges (PIPS), a joint powers authority which is responsible for workers’ compensation insurance claims. She is the Vice Chair of the Underwriting Committee for the Statewide Association of Community Colleges (SWACC), which is responsible for property and liability insurance. She is also a select member of the CollegeBuys program (Foundation for CA Community Colleges, an arm of the CA Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office) advisory group that contributes system-wide towards leveraging combined/streamlining purchasing powers, total cost of ownership, and shared best practices. Within the advisory group, she additionally contributes as a co-chair in the Legislative and Policy Workgroup. Priya holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Queensland Institute of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.
Mina Hernandez is the Director of Purchasing and Material Management at MiraCosta Community College District. She provides innovative leadership at MiraCosta which includes contracts administration and overseeing procurement, warehouse, mailroom and the copy center operations. Prior to MiraCosta, she was the Executive Director of General Services for West Valley-Mission Community College District. Mina is a statewide leader. She led the efforts in creating the Purchasing Guidebook and Purchasing-Facilities Guidebook, which serves as best practice guides for the California Community College System. Mina is a frequent presenter on topics related to innovation in procurement and contract management. She has led many efforts to streamline and modernize procurement practices at the various higher education institutions she has worked. In March 2021, she was selected by PlanetBids as an awardee for the annual Breaking Barriers award. In October 2021, she was awarded the CHEC Focus on Efficiency Award for leading the Purchasing-Facilities Guidebook, along with being awarded with her team for their modernization efforts with MiraCosta’s procurement processes during COVID-19. Mina graduated with a Master of Administration from Northern Arizona University in 2012. She has a multifaceted background, having worked in higher education administration for fifteen years and in the private sector as a legal professional for over a decade.
Hugh Lee is a senior partner/shareholder of Tao Rossini, APC. Mr. Lee’s practice is primarily focused on representing and advising various public agencies including community college districts, school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, and non-profit organizations, in all aspects of public works construction law. This includes handling construction claims, disputes and litigation, construction contract administration, procurement, bidding and bid disputes, labor issues, and architectural malpractice. Mr. Lee advises clients in drafting construction-related documents including contracts and front-end documents for various construction delivery methods. Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Lee practiced as an architect working for various architectural design firms.
Dr. Jose Fierro began his tenure as President/Superintendent of the Cerritos Community College District in July 2015. Located in the Southeast Los Angeles region of California, Cerritos College is the foremost launchpad for upward social mobility in the local community. Dr. Fierro’s commitment to increasing educational access, success, and completion is reflected in the innovative ways that Cerritos College connects with the community and students.
Since his arrival in 2015, the community has seen a 386 percent increase in completion of transfer-level math courses in a student’s first year, and a 107 percent increase in completion of transfer-level English in a student’s first year. These momentum points are significant factors to a students’ success, as demonstrated by an 85 percent increase in the number of degree and certificate awards at Cerritos College.
With the support of time-tested partnerships between Cerritos College and local school districts, Dr. Fierro launched Cerritos Complete in 2016. More than a Promise Program, Cerritos Complete provides easy access to college for high school seniors. Cerritos Complete increases the velocity of completion through wraparound student services and a merit-based scholarship component. Cerritos Complete won the 2018 Examples of Excelencia Award in the Associate Level category, which is the only national effort to identify and promote evidence-based practices that help accelerate Latino student success in higher education. The program was also selected as a finalist for the 2018 Bellwether Award.
Dr. Fierro is a 2020-2021 Aspen Presidential Fellow and a 2017 Wheelhouse Fellow. He serves on various boards at the local, state, and national levels, including 2021-2022 President-Elect of the Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges (CEOCCC) Board, Community College League Board of Directors, 2021 President-Elect of the National Community College Hispanic Council Board of Directors (NCCHC), Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Alliance Executive Committee, 2021-2022 President of the California Association of Latino Community College Trustees and Administrators (CALCCTA) Board, Racial Equity and Inclusive Excellence (REIE) Taskforce, Los Angeles/Orange County Regional Consortium Governance Council, Coast Plaza Hospital Board of Directors in Norwalk, and the National Association of Community College Teachers Executive Board (NACCTEP).
Carrie Everts is the Facilities Assistant at MiraCosta Community College District since 2015. Her job responsibilities include being the Civic Center Coordinator. Once Carrie took over the responsibilities of Civic Center, she began to streamline the process, collaborate with key people on campuses and works closely with Purchasing to ensure successful events for the College and the Community.
Carrie has 20+ years of event management. She owns her own business along with 27+ years of volunteer work for the community in North County, San Diego. Carrie has been featured in SDVoyager.
Carrie graduated with a Master of Educational Studies and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Additionally, she has an Associate’s Degree in Theology from Word Bible College where she learned strong leadership skills. She has a multifaceted background, having worked in higher education administration for 9 years and in the private sector for over a decade.
April Graham is the Executive Director, Contract, Procurement, and Risk Management Services for the Santa Clarita Community College District. She has over sixteen years’ of hands-on contract experience, including education, healthcare, and medical laboratory agreements. April is highly regarded by her colleagues for her can-do approach and takes special pride in helping others, especially when they have unique purchasing or contract needs. She oversees over $30 million in District Purchase Orders each year, and her department was recently awarded the 2021 Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award from the National Procurement Institute, which was 1 of only 12 higher education organizations in the United States and Canada to receive the award. She currently serves as an alternate Board member on the Statewide Association of Community Colleges (SWACC). She is the Vice Chair of the SWACC Claims & Coverage Committee, and she was recently appointed to the Schools Association For Excess Risk (“SAFER”) Board of Directors. She earned her Associate’s degree in Social Science at College of the Canyons, and then went on to graduate with honors from California State University, Dominguez Hills, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Studies, with a minor in Public Administration.
Sharon Suarez is a partner at the Gibbs Giden law firm in Los Angeles with over 30 years of experience in public and private construction law. Sharon focuses her practice on representing and counseling public schools and community college districts with respect to construction, facilities, real estate, purchasing, contracts and related matters. Her practice consists of providing advice, consultation and legal services concerning public works and procurement issues, including bidding procedures, alternative project delivery, award of contracts, preparation of construction, construction management, project management, design professional and other consultant agreements, contract administration and close-out and dispute resolution. In the course of representing schools and colleges, Ms. Suarez has worked on a wide range of issues, including site selection and development; documenting and handling real estate transactions including purchase and sale agreements, easements, entitlements, zoning and land use issues; drafting and implementing owner-controlled insurance programs; and managing bidding, contract and claims issues.
Ms. Suarez is actively involved in public agency and construction related organizations. She routinely speaks before various construction and facilities related associations and presents workshops and seminars throughout the State of California on topics of interest to schools and community college districts.
Rodney Taylor’s leadership journey spans 30 years in education beginning in 1991 as the Food Services Director for San Mateo Union High School District/ Compton Unified School District, while most recently retiring as Food and Nutrition Services Director, for the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, the 10th largest school in the United States.
Mr. Taylor takes a vision and makes it reality through sound strategy development. He inspires innovative ideas and concepts, and provides avenues to ensure change is managed effectively. He is an inspirational leader who tells stories that inspire action while at the same time ensures that stakeholders remain engaged in the process and are well-supported when change impacts their daily lives. He believes open and honest communication is essential to maintaining support for the strategy. As a seasoned consultant, Rodney has provided organizations in the public and private sectors with practical strategies that enable change management as an enterprise business capability. Respected as a credible voice in decision making, strategic thinking, innovation, and establishing governance boundaries.
Rodney has served on numerous boards such as the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, the University of California (UC0 President’s Advisory Commission for Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Network for a Healthy California’s Executive Committee.
Rodney holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills.