Co-Creating Community, Leadership, and Learning at LINKS 2019


After an amazing year of hard work on our BSILI campuses, we gathered for LINKS 2019: The Fierce Urgency of Now- From Inquiry to Action, a two-day leadership and learning convening held at Crowne Plaza Hotel Ventura Beach.  The feeling of community and excitement was palpable as our BSILI 2018 cohort as well as colleagues from across the state arrived, eager to share and learn together.

Deborah Harrington, 3CSN Executive Director & Dean of Student Success at Los Angeles Community College District, along with 3CSN coordinators and BSILI participants, opened with a poetry reading that spoke to the student experience (that we want to change), and what we should bring to this work.  Deborah started us off with Jane Kenyon’s “Trouble with Math in a One-Room School,”  Lars Kjeseth then read Mary Oliver’s “The Poet Dreams of the Classroom,” Lauren Servais read Wendell Berry’s “The Real Work,” and Nika Hogan read Marge Piercy’s “To Be of Use.”  Watch a video of the reading below:



Following this powerful opener, Deborah shared 3CSN’s mission statement, theory of change, the California Community Colleges’ Vision for Success, and an overview of our three inquiry areas that were identified from working with colleges across the state.59704829_2305221699570404_5270006549585068032_o_2305221696237071

Lauren Servais, 3CSN Coordinator and English Faculty at Santa Rosa Junior College, then led the group in a powerful Ahupua’a: Community Mapping exercise in which participants surfaced personal and college metaphors, identified synergy and conflict between them, and reflected upon how the awareness could help in moving forward more mindfully as members of college communities, ultimately constructing the ideal metaphor of campus community to work towards as we transform our institutions. 

Review the PowerPoint here.


After a brief break, Dr. Angelica Garcia, Vice President of Student Services at Skyline College, helped us to find our “sole mates” and gave an inspiring, moving, and motivating presentation entitled “El Poder de La Mujer Latina: Ser Educada.


Breakout sessions led by BSILI 2018 participants followed. See links to the presentations below (review descriptions in the full agenda here):  

It takes listening to our student community: Strategies for centralizing students’ voices and experiences within Guided Pathways implementationMary-Jo Apigo, Dean of Teaching and Learning, Anthony Cuomo, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Vice Chair of Language Arts, and Laura Guichard, West Los Angeles College

Flipped Meetings:  Maximizing Your Time for Professional GrowthTrisha Herrera, Yuliana Samson, and John Davis, English Faculty, Pasadena City College

After the Romance Ends: Keeping the Post-Conference Passion AliveMelanee Grondahl, Student Development Instructor and Rob McCandless, Veterans Office and Step Up Counselor, Shasta College 

Day 1 ended with a bustling reception where participants had the opportunity to mingle, catch up, and enjoy hot hors d’oeuvres and beverages.


60007033_2308642962561611_7505879546499956736_o_2308642959228278Day 2 opened with a welcome and debrief by Deborah Harrington.  This was followed by a presentation by Nika Hogan, 3CSN Coordinator and Associate Professor at Pasadena City College entitled, “How do we put learning at the heart of institutional reform?”  In this general session, participants were asked to write and share personal learning histories, generate metaphors for learning based on their experiences, engage with a text set, and work as groups to create aspirational metaphors for learning in relation to our college reform initiatives.

Breakout sessions led by BSILI 2018 participants followed. See links to the presentations below (review descriptions in the full agenda here)

True Community as a Core Value for Equity TransformationMarina Broeder, ESL Faculty; Eden Campos, Mission College Student; Urias Garcia, Counselor; Connor Keese, Outreach Supervisor; Sarah Sullivan, Reading Faculty, Mission College  

Creating an Engaged, Collaborative, and Transformative Program for Underrepresented StudentsJason Sumilhig, Assistant Professor/Rise Coordinator, Sierra Community College 

Under the Big Top:  A New Act in Noncredit Student Success Services and Programs  Cassondra Caesar, CalWORKS Counselor; Roberta Krauss, CalWORKs Director; Denise Muñoz, Counseling Faculty, San Diego Continuing Education

SITE Faculty Learning Communities: Teaching & Learning Together in a Time of TransformationLars Kjeseth, Mathematics Faculty;  Art Martinez, Mathematics Faculty; Rachel Ketai, English Faculty and Rose Ann Cerofeci, English Faculty, El Camino College 

Student Engagement and Peer Support for Guided PathwaysKaren Engelsen, Vice President of Student Services; Corey Timberlake, Counseling Faculty and UMOJA Coordinator; Amy Azul, Director of Tutoring and Academic Support; Debra Blanchard, Curriculum Chair and Facilitator, Victor Valley College  

Institutionalizing Sustainable TransformationJennifer Cruz, Administrative Assistant II, Basic Skills Student Outcomes and Transformation; Rosalia Cueto, Mathematics Faculty; Jennifer Escobar, English Faculty; Gabriel Murillo, Mathematics Faculty; Esteban Navas, Mathematics Faculty, Moreno Valley College 

Branching Out: LACCD’s Response to AB705,  Leslie Tejada, West LA College English Faculty; Stephanie Arms-Gradington, West LA College English Faculty; William Wallis, English Faculty and Department Chair at LA Valley College/ District Academic Senate Representative

This was followed by a closing that included a raffle for books (Borderlands/La Frontera: A New Mestiza, Intersectionality: An Intellectual History, and White Rage:  The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide) and a registration for Strengthening Student Success.  After a suspenseful raffle drawing led by 3CSN coordinator Kelan Koning, BSILI 2018 participant Jason Sumilhig won the Strengthening Student Success registration!  

Many hugs were shared as the day ended, and some were wistful.  But, as we told all of the participants, this is not the end, just the beginning of a new leg of the journey.  Count on hearing from us very soon as we continue this important work together!

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