Searching for the next FHDA Chancellor


Justin Fry

Richard Storti, one of the chancellor finalists, answers questions at the open forum on May 4.

Justin Fry

With the current Foothill-De Anza District Chancellor Judy Miner retiring in fall 2023, four new finalist candidates were selected and interviewed between May 1 and May 4 to fill the open position.

The four finalists were chosen by the search committee, made up of various constituency groups within the district and community. The committee settled on Lee Lambert, Farouk Dey, Rowena Tomaneng and Richard Storti.

Lee Lambert 

Photo Courtesy of FHDA Community College District

Lee Lambert earned a  J.D. from the Seattle University School of Law and a B.A. in liberal studies from Evergreen State College. He is currently a chancellor at Pima Community College in Arizona. 

In his finalist biography, Lambert said he is “a dynamic advocate for diversity, equity and  inclusion, student success and community engagement.” 

During his interview, which took place on May 1, he said he is a supporter of AB705, which requires colleges to look primarily at students’ highschool GPA and coursework for placement in courses. This legislation is aimed at accelerating learning, but some reports say it has negative impacts on groups such as single, working parents or recently released parolees

Many of Lambert’s concerns lay with the attainment of students and lack of degrees held by low-wage workers. He cited some statistics by the Brookings Institution, a think tank focused on public policy.

“What keeps me up at night is the fact that there are almost 300,000 individuals who are considered low-wage workers,” he said. “Twenty percent of them already have a four-year degree and around 8% have an associate’s degree, but then you have about 25% or 26% who have some college and no credentials.” 

Farouk Dey

Photo Courtesy of FHDA Community College District

Farouk Dey earned a Ph.D. and Ed.S. in educational leadership, a M.B.A. and M.Ed. in counseling psychology, and a B.A. in finance.  He is currently the Vice Provost for Integrative Learning and Life Design at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Dey said that he believes “hiring practices to make the faculty representative of the student body is a key part of anti-racist work to create systematic change,” one which he has applied to his previous position.

“The rhetoric is important, because it has an impact on inclusion and allows people to feel that this is a safe space for them to express themselves in their full identity,” Dey said. “To me, it comes down to having a very clear vision and a clear set of outcomes that you’re going to hold yourself and the institution accountable.”

Dey said he is focused on implementing these anti-racist practices and is committed to results. He said these practices have generated positive results at John Hopkins University. 

“We are much more diverse,” he said. “We are a representation of our student community and that’s where it starts for me.”

Dey said he was interested to see the positive response of the workers in the intuition responding to the systematic change. He said  that to practice anti-racism, it is needed to put diversity, equity and inclusion as the common strain for strategic planning which in turn causes people of color to respond positively because of the dedication to equity and inclusion. 

Rowena Tomaneng

Photo Courtesy of FHDA Community College District

Rowena Tomaneng earned an Ed.D. in international and multicultural education, human rights concentration from the University of San Francisco, an M.A. in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a B.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine. 

She is currently the president of San Jose City College and vice president of the CEO Board of California Community Colleges. She was a community college student and has taught for 12 years at De Anza. 

Tomaneng is on a statewide task force for the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Workgroup, which determined that cost of living impacts enrollment and professor recruitment.

She said her plans for increasing enrollment in the district include offering free tuition and zero fees to anyone taking over six units by leveraging available grants as, something she has implemented as president of San Jose City College. 

“When I first did the free tuition in San Jose City College, we were approaching flat from the year before;  then, in the second semester of the second year, (enrollment was)  increasing at both colleges about 5% to 7%,” Tomaneg said. “This spring, enrollment  had increased by close to 18%.”

The 18% metric was taken before census data was collected, which may reduce the number because of fraudulent enrollments. However, enrollment data is still trending upward.

Richard Storti

Photo Courtesy of FHDA Community College District

Richard Storti earned a Ph.D. in education from the University of Southern California, a M.S. in accountancy from California State University, Fullerton, and a B.S. in business administration accountancy from California State University, Long Beach.  He is now the Executive Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services at the San Mateo Community College District. 

In a personal biography, Storti said he believes in community college systems because of available student opportunities, services and high-quality instructional programs. 

Storti said the financial stability of the district will affect negotiations with bargaining units. Bargaining units are jobs represented by a labor union which negotiate their conditions of employment. He expressed support for employees, but also emphasized the needs of the district. 

“I believe in taking care of employees,” Storti said. “I’m sympathetic, empathetic to what they’re going through (from) a financial standpoint, but the district’s financial stability also needs to be taken into account. The key is working together with our bargaining units to understand those different parameters and come to agreement on an acceptable movement.”

What students are thinking

De Anza student Isabel Caballero Teixeira, 26, biology major, attended the meeting and shared which candidate drew her interest. 

“Rowena Tomaneng would be my personal favorite,” Teixeira said. “Not only does she have personal experience working with our district, but she also has the needed experience to be chancellor. The anti-racism work in the (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Workgroup)  as well as her drive to understand the core issues really sway my decision.”

The new chancellor will be appointed on June 12 by the FHDA Board of Trustees, but the district is still collecting public feedback based on what candidates said in  interviews on the FHDA website