Nonprofit leader vies for COC seat

Former Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley CEO David Menchaca, left, presents the Tony Newhall Volunteer of the Year Award to Ann-Marie Bjorkman and her husband, Mike (not shown) at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley 2016 Holiday Luncheon held at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley in Newhall in December 2016. Dan Watson/The signal

Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club board President Ann-Marie Bjorkman declared her candidacy for the College of the Canyons Board of Trustees 5th District seat, which is currently held by incumbent Joan MacGregor.

MACGREGOR

During her 25 years on the board, MacGregor said she has experienced COC’s growth first-hand.

“I feel really responsible of the Canyon Country campus. I was able to secure the site and be on the board to approve funding for that and the upcoming science building,” MacGregor said.

She added that funding will change the community college landscape in drastic ways, along with the introduction of new pathways programs.

“Right now, my motto is, ‘Experienced educational leadership in challenging times,’ because we need experience in this difficult time,” MacGregor said, referring to the budget cuts community colleges have undergone in the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown’s most recent budget.

“I think people should vote for experience and leadership that has been proven and tested,” MacGregor added. Buildings have been built, bonds have been passed, “and all of the these things have been done under my time on the board.”

Bjorkman

Like MacGregor, Bjorkman said funding is vital, which is why she has raised tens of thousands of dollars since 2000 when she first volunteered for the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

If elected, Bjorkman said she will use her proven fundraising abilities and passion to bridge the gap between underprivileged kids and an affordable college education.

“A long time ago, COC had an amazing partnership, where they’d come in and teach college classes and expose (the kids) to college being a safe and fun place,” Bjorkman said. She hopes by restarting the program, seventh- and eighth-graders will be introduced to different pathways and skills related to work as an electrician or welder.

Bjorkman said she also plans to expand the college’s Online Educational Resources program, which provides free textbooks to offset the expense of traditional print versions.

“These books should come with diamonds,”because they’re so expensive, Bjorkman said. Textbooks could be another reason for kids to not afford school, “(and) I don’t want that. I don’t want them to have an excuse to not go to school.”

As a member of multiple organizations, Bjorkman said she will draw on her strong advocacy skills and work with Sacramento legislators to make a difference for her district.

“I’m a doer. I work hard for what I believe in,” Bjorkman said,” and I’ve always seen it as my duty to advocate for our kids — so all Santa Clarita’s children can have access to the future they deserve.”

This post was last modified on August 13, 2018, 11:00 am

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