A Conversation With Erika Endrijonas

How long have you been volunteering in the community?

I have served as the President of Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) since August 1, 2014.  Before I even arrived, I was contacted by Dr. Deborah DiCesare, a long-time Dean at LAVC and active The Valley Economic Alliance (TVEA) member, to discuss the various opportunities I would have to work closely with the business community as President.  I began attending TVEA meetings in Fall 2014, in addition to joining the Valley Industry and Commerce Association Board, where I also Chair the Education Committee.  I am also the Chair of the Intelecom Learning Board, a small non-profit organization which is located in Pasadena that creates and delivers online content for distance education courses.

How long have you been volunteering for The Valley Economic Alliance?

I started volunteering with TVEA in Fall 2014, serving on the Board of Governors.  In Fall 2015, I joined the Board of Directors and in Fall 2016, I was elected to the Management Committee.  I have hosted the past two Health and Career Expo fairs put on by TVEA and I will once again host it in April 2017.  I have also hosted three TVEA Board Meetings, and in January 2015, I participated as a speaker at the Economic Forecast event.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I came to Los Angeles Valley College after serving as the Executive Vice President at Oxnard College in the Ventura County Community College District for 5 years and 9 years as the Dean of Educational Programs at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) prior to that.  At SBCC, I oversaw 28 career and technical programs spread out over three divisions, including the Business, Technologies, and the Health and Human Services Divisions.  I managed the Perkins funds for the college and wrote numerous Economic and Workforce Development grants to support nursing, computer networking, the Child Development Center, the School of Culinary Arts, and Hotel Management.  I also co-wrote and managed a National Science Foundation grant to develop curriculum to train students to create media for the newly released iPhone.  It was this experience that cemented my interest in workforce development, as each of my programs held annual Advisory Committee meetings with local business and industry to ensure that our curriculum was relevant and meeting their needs.   

On a personal level, I have been with my partner, Martha, for 25 years, and we have a daughter, Ava, who is 11 years old.  I love cooking and quilting.  I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in History from California State University, Northridge and a Master’s and Ph.D. in History from the University of Southern California.  My dissertation was a cultural history of American cookbooks published between 1945 and 1960.  I love football, especially the USC Trojans and the Dallas Cowboys!

For more information visit my LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/erika-endrijonas-a884428

What is one of your Passion Projects that you are working on?

I have many projects at the moment on my campus, but I think the one that I am really focused on is finding secure funding for our Family Resource Center, which supports students and our local community members.  Over 30% of our students are parents, so while the college can provide all kinds of tutoring and other services to students, student-parents have to juggle their classes, studying, and working with parenting responsibilities.  This requires a different type of support in order to help them to be successful students and parents.  We provide resources, parent support groups and a “kid-friendly study lounge” where students can bring their children and get some studying done in our Family Resource Center environment. 

We have also combined our efforts to support parenting with our Workforce Training program because many of the people who train through that program are also parents who can benefit from our parenting support resources.  The Family Resource Center (FRC) is the only one of its kind in the state and this past November, it was awarded the California Community College Chancellor’s Student Success Award of Excellence.  However, the FRC is completely financed through soft funding, so one of my goals is to find both a funding stream for the services we provide as well as an endowment to support its success in perpetuity.  The value to the community – both our students and the local community who are welcome to avail themselves of our help – is impossible to quantify. 

For more information, please visit the website at www.lavcfamilyresourcecenter.com

Why do you continue to be a member of The Valley Economic Alliance?

I am a member of The Valley Economic Alliance because I realize the role it plays in ensuring the development of business in the San Fernando Valley.  The vitality of the Valley depends upon a strong business community with a well-trained workforce, and TVEA is just one way to keep business growing and people working.