July 21, 2020
Sacramento, Calif. – The California Community Colleges Board of Governors today honored six professionals, ranging from a CalWORKS student advisor at Santa Rosa Junior College to a senior coordinator at Los Medanos College’s Center for Academic Support, as the 2020 California Community Colleges Classified Employees of the Year.
Melody Chronister, Amy Ethington, Brian Horwitz, Sandra Mills, Roxanne Noble and Aaron Turner were recognized at the Board of Governor’s July 20 meeting.
“Classified professionals play a critical, but often unsung, role in helping students reach their academic and career goals, and these six exemplary employees who have impacted literally thousands of lives represent the best of the California Community Colleges,” said Board of Governors President Tom Epstein.
Here are this year’s recipients:
Amy Ethington, Santa Rosa Junior College
Amy Ethington has served as a direct line to Santa Rosa Junior College students for more than seven years as the CalWORKS student advisor and works closely with students with children who are striving to build supportive and caring families. Ethington also pioneered Santa Rosa Junior College’s first attempt to provide CalWORKS students services at county offices, participated in the ‘Jail to Jobs’ training on how to better serve formerly incarcerated students and is pursuing an associate degree in Spanish to better serve and support Spanish-speaking students. Ethington also is an active volunteer and engages in shared governance as a member of the Classified Senate. Colleagues say she is the epitome of a classified professional who demonstrates compassion, commitment and joy through her work with students as well as the greater Sonoma County community.
Brian Horwitz, Cañada College
Brian Horwitz has worked at Cañada College for 23 years as a bookstore operations assistant. Colleagues describe him as an embodiment of the ‘Students First’ philosophy coined by the San Mateo County Community College District. As the first recipient of the District Board of Trustees’ ‘Above and Beyond’ award, Horwitz was recognized for sending academic materials to a soldier in Iraq who, though not a student at the college, was in need of finding someone to help him. Horwitz also supported the bookstore’s efforts to create a textbook rental program that has become a model for bookstores across the country and allowed students to rent textbooks for a fraction of their retail cost. In addition, Horwitz was instrumental in the development and rollout of the campus Brown Bag program fighting food insecurity. A member of CSEA, Horwitz often provides counsel to staff and union leaders.
Aaron Turner, Long Beach City College
Aaron Turner exemplifies Long Beach City College's mission to support diverse communities and put students first, all while encouraging those around him to keep a positive attitude. His co-workers see him as a go-to person on campus. As a member of Long Beach City College’s Classified Senate, Turner has served on the Faculty and Staff Diversity Committee and the district's Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee, among others. But his leadership goes well beyond campus. Turner was integral in starting an African-American Fathers group in Long Beach fostering relationships with youth and young adults in an effort to keep them on track, ensuring that they stay in school, further their education, and work toward a rewarding future. On weekends, Aaron spends much of his time to beautifying his neighborhood, contributing to a sense of community pride and safety.
Sandra Mills, Los Medanos College
As a graduate of Los Medanos College, Sandra Mills’ roots are deep; she began her career as a student tutor in English more than 20 years ago and now serves as the senior coordinator of the Center for Academic Support. In her current role, Mills has been critical in implementing AB705 with wrap-around supports for students by working collaboratively with faculty, student tutors and deans. She also actively participates as a member of the Classified Senate and founding member of the Los Medanos Annual Classified Senate Holiday Luncheon, which raises money for student scholarships and brings the entire campus together. In response to the Real College Survey, Mills sparked the idea of implementing the Brain Food Project, which embeds equity-minded practices into tutoring curriculum while introducing healthy food into the learning environment. Mills also is active outside of campus in promoting the college.
Melody Chronister, Imperial Valley College
Imperial Valley College IT business analyst Melody Chronister serves as a leader and statewide subject-matter expert in several initiatives and projects regarding technology, technology training and participatory governance at Imperial Valley College. She also has more than 12 years of experience in CCC MyPath, Degree Works, Starfish, Canvas and other programs to ensure the success of students across the state. Chronister has been called upon to assist districts in leveraging technology, but also helps faculty and staff at Imperial Valley College understand the latest software to lead to more efficient and improved processes and a more accurate account of data. In addition to her duties as a business analyst, Chronister serves on several committees and regularly attends conferences and workshops related to online education and higher education software applications.
Roxanne Noble, San Joaquin Delta College
Roxanne Noble is knowledgeable in all areas related to athletics with more than 26 years of service in the San Joaquin Delta College Athletics Department and is involved in every step of the process for Delta student athletes, from onboarding to graduation and transfer. As the game manager for all home events, she oversees 100 events a year to ensure each event is properly staffed and works cohesively with the Facilities, Admissions & Records and Transportation departments. Noble was instrumental in establishing the first ever Athletic Department sponsorship program ‘Community through Unity’ to establish a partnership with local groups and businesses. Noble has been a constant in the Athletic Department and continues to uphold the highest standards.
The California Community Colleges Classified Employee of the Year award has been presented annually since 2009. Recipients have a minimum of 5 years of service as a permanent employee and are nominated by their colleagues and endorsed by the local board of trustees. Winners are selected by representatives from the Board of Governors, the Consultation Council and the Chancellor's Office on their commitment to the Vision for Success; the California community college's mission; professional ethics and standards; serving the institution through participation in professional or community activities; and serving as a leader beyond the local institution.
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; degree and certificate pathways; and basic skills education in English and math. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the , a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the or follow us on and .