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The Community College Association (CCA) is a successful organization because of the leadership of hundreds of local members who work tirelessly at the bargaining table, reaching out to members, providing guidance on grievances, campaigning for education-friendly trustees, and in general strengthening their chapters. These local education and union activists received We Honor Ours (WHO) awards in 2018.

 Erin Thomas, MiraCosta College Academic Associate Faculty — Currently the lead negotiator, she served as treasurer for two years and works as a faculty mentor, serves on the professional development committee, leads professional development workshops, has served as an academic senator, and most recently was elected the first-ever associate faculty to serve as coordinating officer on the MiraCosta College Academic Senate.

 Forest T. Quinlan, Napa Valley College Faculty Association — As lead negotiator, he bargained a 9 percent salary increase, got more money for program coordinators, and convinced the district to agree to one-for-one compensation for labs across the board.

 Ricardo Aguilar, San Joaquin Delta College Teachers Association — Currently serving as the human rights and equity chair, he fights for DACA students. Undocumented until 2012, when the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was established, Aguilar volunteers for campaigns and initiatives, continually advocates for the rights of part-time faculty, and is a recent graduate of the CCA California Leadership Academy.

 Kirsten Moreno, Long Beach City College Faculty Association — Currently chapter vice president and chief negotiator, she worked tirelessly to achieve an impressive multiyear raise, lecture lab parity, and relief for department heads — with no takebacks! Active in campaigns to elect faculty-friendly trustees, she is chair of the first-ever Faculty Association Safety Workgroup.

Sergio Guzman, Rio Hondo College Faculty Association — A past chapter president, he promoted member engagement and networking by increasing the number of social outings, happy hours, and an end-of-the-year faculty and administration get-together. He helped to foster a collaborative environment between the faculty association and the district, as well as the board of trustees, allowing him to resolve many grievances before they became serious problems.

Patrick Mitchell, Merced College Faculty Association — As president, he was honored for his resolute behavior in dealing with an adversarial administration and board of trustees. He is credited with building a more student- and faculty-focused board of trustees, and is respected as a tactician in the realm of negotiations. Involved in CCA/CTA at the local and state level, he has served on numerous committees and boards.

Michael Sanetrick, Mt. San Antonio College Faculty Association — As one of only two adjunct faculty on the board, he advocates for part-time faculty interests, and his input and perspective have proved invaluable. An active member, he serves on the internal governance committee and chairs the survey committee, in addition to occasional task force work. He even volunteers to stuff hundreds of envelopes.

Ted Phillips, San Bernardino CCD Teachers Association — Currently vice president, full-time rep, bargaining team member and webmaster, he is a creative problem-solver and strong advocate for getting members’ input to drive decisions. He single-handedly generated over 600 emails and passwords through the association’s website and assembled the voter roster data.

Artel Garcia, College of the Desert Adjunct Association — Artel Garcia teaches Spanish at College of the Desert. Instrumental in creating two new courses for heritage speakers of Spanish, reactivating the A.A. in Spanish for transfer, she helped create a certificate program in translation and interpretation in three areas: education, health care and business. Garcia has also planned activities to promote cross-cultural awareness. She is successful in motivating students to do radio broadcasting in Spanish, promote cross-cultural communication in a foreign language, and meet the needs of the broadcast field in Spanish in the Coachella Valley community.

Jose Simo, College of the Desert Faculty Association — Currently vice president and a bargaining team member, he brings clarity and experience to the issues facing students and faculty. The association has benefited greatly from his dedication and problem-solving skills.

Tom Greenwood, Kern CCD/CCA — A dedicated union leader, he played a major role in negotiationg a compressed faculty salary scale that boosted paychecks and faculty morale substantially. As a result of his leadership, the latest contract was settled on time — for the first time in recent memory.

Caree Lesh, Southwestern College Education Association — A strong union leader, she is respected for her intelligence, commitment, connections and skill at the bargaining table. She “collaborates without caving” and always stands up for faculty and students.

David Ryba, Citrus College Faculty Association — Respected as a fierce and relentless leader, he has earned the respect of his peers for being honest, having integrity, and being tough but fair. Much of his work involves grievances when the contract is violated. He was honored for spending countless hours preparing, organizing data, and creating pivot tables and charts to make sense of things. He firmly believes in doing the right thing regardless of the work that’s involved to fix it.

Mark Blethen, South Orange County CCD Faculty Association — A fierce and tireless advocate for faculty rights, he was honored for the negotiation of a fair compensation package for all faculty, converting from Blackboard to Canvas, and gaining significant increases for part-time faculty including pay for office hours, and a 12 percent overall raise for all faculty. An outgoing president, he negotiated part-time rehire rights and made parity a priority.

Suzanne Gretz, Imperial Valley College CCA/CTA/NEA — Having served as both president and chief negotiator, Gretz has many accomplishments, including increasing union membership to 80 percent during a time when IVC did not have agency fees, and negotiating new rights for faculty, including a more equitable salary schedule. She is leading the fight against a new administration trying to rewrite the entire contract in favor of management rights.

For more on the awards and the CCA, go to