COC to review applicants for board vacancy Wednesday 

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 Members of College of the Canyons’ governing board Wednesday are set to review 12 applications for a board vacancy. 

Longtime board member Michele Jenkins died last month, which created the vacancy that board members decided Feb. 11 to fill with an appointment to serve the rest of Jenkins’ term. 

The applicants, who must live in District 4 in COC’s trustee-area map, are expected to be interviewed during the special board meeting, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. 

The appointee would fill the seat until the next election, which is scheduled to take place in November 2024. 

The list of candidates, who submitted their applications by the March 10 deadline and then were verified as residents of the district, include: Robert Brode, Jerry Danielsen, Sharlene Duzick-Johnson, Carl Goldman, Ashley Guardino, Dwight Ham, Gregory Jenkins, Jesse McClure, Edgar Perez, Santa Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez and Len (Leonard) Unkeless. 

The candidates’ applications are available on the college’s website, in the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting

Brode is an attorney who has taught as a professor at COC for 19 years, according to his application, which includes serving on a number of boards at COC.  

“In the last 25 years COC has grown to an amazing size,” he said in his application. “Through the board of trustees, I hope to help the college remain as stable, productive and as enjoyable as it has always been.” 

Danielson, a small-business owner, musician and COC alum, ran against Jenkins in 2016 and 2020, losing by a little over 200 votes in the last election.  

“COC is vital to changing and improving our economy, particularly since COVID-19,” Danielson wrote on his application. “People will need training and retraining, now more than ever. Our families and future depend on it.” 

Duzick-Johnson is a Realtor and former president of the Jaycees (Junior Chamber International) who previously ran for a seat on the Saugus Union School District’s governing board.  

“As a trustee, I think it’s beneficial that I come in with no major objective or intent other than to bring a fresh perspective, understanding and desire to ensure the optimal performance of the college, the functions of staff, involvement and evolution of policy to enhance or sustain opportunities provided and envision for the future,” she wrote in her application. 

Goldman is the owner of KHTS, the local radio station, who’s been involved in supporting a number of nonprofit organizations in the Santa Clarita Valley for more than 30 years. 

“Students entering COC in this decade face many challenges that weren’t present in previous decades,” Goldman wrote in his application. “COVID-19, social media, fentanyl, artificial intelligence and economic struggles are just a few. It is critical to maintain a strong dialogue with current students to address these challenges and implement creative solutions.” 

Guardino is a Realtor whose community involvement includes work with Single Mothers Outreach, the SCV Senior Center and her children’s PTA in the Sulphur Springs Union School District. 

“My main goal if becoming a trustee would be to help support the people of our community to reach their goals of going to college and becoming successful in their future,” she wrote.  

Ham listed his occupation as entrepreneur with a background in finance and administration who previously served on the board of directors for the Bank of Santa Clarita.  

When asked what he hoped to accomplish as a trustee, he wrote, “service to my community, to education and to the future of Santa Clarita.” 

Dr. Gregory Jenkins is Michele Jenkins’ widower, who runs a local practice, The Doctor’s Office, and has served as the chief of staff at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, as well as on the board of the American Red Cross. 

Jenkins said if chosen he hopes to “continue the path of excellence” for COC.   

McClure is a business owner and currently the student trustee on COC’s governing board. He previously hosted a morning show on KHTS and a reality TV show that was picked up overseas. 

“I hope to continue serving students and their needs,” McClure said, noting he’d be in a unique position to help his constituents if he were chosen as a student-board member. 

Perez is a community college professor in the Los Angeles Community College District who’s been involved in the curriculum and board policy development where he works.  

“The first goal I want to accomplish as a trustee will be to be the most prominent advocate for the College of the Canyons,” he wrote in his application. “I want to use my skills and contacts in the community to mold public policy for the benefit of education.” 

Rivera is a former COC student and paralegal who has volunteered at a couple of school-support nonprofits, including the Head Start program.  

“I hope to learn and understand more of the process, behind the scenes, of making a positive difference to my/our community through policy-making,” she wrote in her application. 

Rodriguez is a business owner and credentialed teacher who serves as president of RISE Educational Foundation, and volunteers with several community organizations. 

“I come at this possible appointment with a viewpoint informed by a number of sources — personal experiences that my family has had in community colleges, reading that I have done, interaction with my employees who are students at COC and other community colleges,” he wrote. 

Unkeless is an engineer who works in telecommunication and said he has no intentions of running for reelection. He plans to bring a “working person’s perspective” to the board, according to his application.  

When asked what he hoped to accomplish, he wrote, “to keep things based in reality and help the college help the students.” 

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