EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
In this edition of the e-newsletter, we welcome the new President of the Glendale College Foundation Board, Ellyn Semler, who was installed by Chief Harold Scoggins on July 27 along with our three new Board members, new officers and the official Board. You will also find introductions to the new members, each of whom brings a distinct set of talents and experience to the Board.
A very special thank-you is extended to Harry Hull, who has served the Board with great distinction these past two years. Luckily for us, he will continue to serve, guiding the Foundation’s Nominating Committee and sitting on the Finance Committee. We are also fortunate to have Anthony Tartaglia back with us. As President of the GCC Board of Trustees, he will represent that group on the Foundation board.
Read the story of Shara, just one of the hundreds of GCC’s annual scholarship recipients, to be reminded of why we continue to do this work even when faced with the current economic climate. “I’m the second generation to attend college, so I have not only personal goals but those set by my family to fulfill,” he says. Glendale College continues to provide a “critical pathway to success” (as new Board member Liz Chai-Chang says) for recent immigrants.
Now more than ever, we are turning to the local community to help when and where they can. One suggestion—purchase a banner that will fly on campus for an entire year. This is an easy, visible and low-cost way to show your support for GCC, the Foundation, the students and the community.
With renewed vigor and enthusiasm, and with the help of our loyal supporters, we are well- positioned to move ahead and look forward to a productive, successful year.
New Foundation Board President Ellyn Semler Thrives on Challenges
For Ellyn Semler, becoming president of the Glendale College Foundation Board in the current economic climate is the same type of challenge that she faced often during her career as a human resources executive.
“I’m excited about working even more closely with Lisa (Brooks), the Foundation staff, and the Board members,” she says. “And I’m looking forward to continuing our goal of revitalizing the Board and getting everyone more involved so that we can provide support when it’s needed most.”
With an extensive background in human resources management, Semler brings a wealth of experience to the Foundation Board. Born in Fresno, after high school she moved to San Francisco, where she took college classes and found the first of her many jobs in the banking industry.
After living in Germany for a while, Semler returned to the Bay Area and focused on her career. “At that time I also started taking classes at San Mateo Community College, then eventually I enrolled in UC Berkeley’s extension program,” she says. “I’ve always loved learning and valued the educational process.”
Meanwhile, her career was flourishing. She steadily climbed the corporate ladder in bank-related positions, working mostly in operations management and human resources. “I found that I enjoyed the organizational aspects of running a large department or division, and eventually I moved into HR which gave me another aspect of management.”
By 1985, Semler was head of human resources (20,000+ employees) for Bank of America in California, working at the San Francisco headquarters. She was also planning to marry a man who lived and worked in New York City, which created a long-distance relationship dilemma.
The good news was that her soon-to-be husband was being transferred to California—but not San Francisco. “He was being moved to Los Angeles, so I took on one of the biggest challenges ever and talked my boss into moving me here, too. I convinced him that I could do my job just as well from L.A. and he agreed. He was one in a million, way ahead of his time,” says Semler.
After leaving the bank in 1989, she took on a six-month consulting project in Buffalo, New York working with her previous boss/mentor from B of A, and continued to do consulting for a couple of years, mostly on organizational development and compensation issues with banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.
Life in Southern California has been good for Semler and her husband Rich. They still live in the same La Canada home they fell in love with 24 years ago. “It’s a beautiful area and we enjoy the lifestyle. In fact, the only thing we’d change is the traffic,” she says with a smile.
Semler speaks from experience. For 15 years, while working as Executive Vice President of human resources for a small (200 employees) commercial lending company, she worked in Santa Monica. With her typical “look at the bright side” philosophy, she describes coping with the exasperation and stress of the commute. “It was a terrific job, and because of the company’s relatively small size I was able to handle all aspects of HR so it was the ideal challenge at the time,” she says. “The drive was definitely a downside, but I used the time to have phone meetings with colleagues on the East Coast, to keep in touch with relatives, to listen to books on tape, to explore side streets that I didn’t know existed between La Canada and Santa Monica.”
Besides the job satisfaction, another upside of working for the Santa Monica company was the opportunity to earn a graduate degree. “They had very generous policies and flexibility for continuing education, so I took advantage of that by enrolling in the Pepperdine University Executive MBA program, which proved to be a win-win situation when the company asked me to co-write a business plan based on the plan that I developed as my master’s thesis, “Semler says.
Since her retirement four years ago, Semler is busier than ever. “I did a lot of reading when I first retired, I had promised myself to do that. I’ve also taken up bridge and yoga, and do some pilates. My husband is also retired so we have more time to enjoy opera and travel. It’s also been a time to sort out our very disorganized wine collection,” she says.
Like many people who feel the need to accomplish things and give back to the community, Semler is an active volunteer. “While I was still working, I was vice president of the Glendale YWCA Board of Directors during the organization’s financial and structural crisis several years ago,” she says. She is also an active member of Las Candelas, a dedicated group of women who volunteer service and provide enrichment programs to emotionally disturbed children in the Glendale/Pasadena/Altadena communities.
About seven years ago, at fellow Board Member Dianne Endsley’s urging, she joined the GCC Foundation Board. “GCC is an excellent community college, and offers something for everybody. This Board is a dedicated group of people, and with three new members coming on I’m looking forward to working together on new ideas to help us meet our goals, even under the present circumstances,” she says, and with her track record of meeting challenges and making a difference, there’s no reason to doubt it!
Scholarship Winner is Living Proof that Hard Work Brings Rewards
Shara Davoodi is a firm believer that those who work hard will be rewarded, and so far the 20-year-old’s life is testimony to that fact.
Davoodi, a recent graduate of GCC, is the third recipient of the Hull Family Scholarship, set up by outgoing GCC Foundation President Harry Hull and his wife, Debbie, to recognize a student athlete who graduated from Hoover High School. “We believe strongly in the community college system, and through my longtime involvement with the Foundation Board, we came to realize how many worthy students attend GCC,” says Hull.
According to Scholarship Program Manager Susan Borquez-Dougherty, GCC has one of the largest scholarship programs for a community college in California, with an annual disbursement of more than $300,000. “We have over 500 scholarships, each with criteria set by the donor,” she says. “When a student applies for a scholarship, they must have completed 12 units at GCC, be currently enrolled and have at least a 2.5 GPA. They fill out one simple application, get a recommendation from a teacher and they’re eligible for consideration.”
In addition to the Hull Family Scholarship, Davoodi was awarded the Aulden and Betty Schlatter scholarship which goes to a business student with good academic achievement, financial need and community involvement.
Davoodi, who will transfer to Cal Poly Pomona this fall as a business marketing major, plans eventually to earn a graduate degree and start his own corporation. “I’ve worked at several small businesses over the last two years, helping them expand both with products and clientele, especially on the Internet,” he says.
Born in Tehran, Iran, he came to the U.S. at the age of six and attended Keppel Elementary, Toll Junior High and Hoover High School. He and his sister, Sharis, live with their single mom. Things have been difficult, especially during the recent economic hard time, but Davoodi held firm belief to the “hard work pays” philosophy. “Throughout my four years at Hoover and my two years at Glendale College, I pushed myself academically to do my best. I’m the second generation to attend college, so I have not only personal goals but those set by my family to fulfill,” he says.
An extension of Davoodi’s hard-work ethic is his commitment to making a difference in the community. At GCC, he regularly participated in Associated Students activities, gave campus tours and helped out on Counselor Day, welcoming counselors from other schools and answering questions. He played on the GCC men’s basketball team for two years, and used that experience to work as coach with a nonprofit boys’ basketball team called Homenetmen Ararat. “It’s time consuming and sometimes the rewards seem intangible, but it’s a great feeling to know I can have a positive impact on a child’s life,” he says.
Prof. Michael Harnett taught Davoodi in a Humanities class last fall, and remembers him as an interested and involved student. “Shara was the first in class to complete an oral report, a daunting assignment for many students. He understood concepts readily and showed effective analytical skills. Shara is a rare individual who is fully engaged in all phases of learning. I see him as a true student athlete.”
Davoodi finished GCC with an impressive 3.59 transfer GPA. He insists that if he can do it, anyone can. “Honestly, I’m not the smartest person,” he says, “and it was definitely a wake-up call when I got here. Glendale College is great, it prepares you for a four-year university and for life. I changed my attitude when I started here, worked harder and was able to achieve my dreams.”
Although looking forward to the summer, Davoodi isn’t giving himself any time to rest on his laurels. With typical energy and enthusiasm, he’s already looking for a job on the CSU Pomona campus and has set another goal for himself. “My sister, who also attended GCC, just earned a master’s degree from Woodbury, so now I’m moving my sights to a doctorate,” he adds with a smile.
Meet the New Board Members
Brent M. Mason
About GCC: “My involvement with Glendale College will be an excellent way to expand my work in the community, and I’m looking forward to working with the Foundation Board and everyone at GCC.”
Current Position: Managing Partner, Charles W. Mason & Associates, where he handles the firm’s day-to-day operation, specializing in investment product research and employee benefits management.
Previous Experience: Joined Charles W. Mason & Associates as Vice President, previously was Vice President with Putnam Investments in Boston and worked closely with the firm’s senior economic advisor and several investment management professionals.
Education: B.A. in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University with a focus on marketing and finance; licensed investment advisor; licensed California insurance agent.
Personal: Grew up in Glendale, currently lives in Pasadena with his wife Leah and daughter Alexandra. Involved with Kiwanis; member of the Board of Directors of Women’s Care Cottage (a homeless shelter) and the Hillsides Community (organization dedicated to creating a safe place for children). Enjoys golf and snow skiing.
About GCC: “Glendale College truly impressed me when I was a student there, it felt almost like a university. My mother, who graduated from GCC in 2004, always calls it “the University of North Verdugo” and I agree. To be on the Foundation Board is a huge honor. I look forward to the partnerships and experiences that this new journey will bring.”
Current Position: Director of Guest & Concierge Services, Americana at Brand, which incorporates her two passions of marketing and people.
Previous Experience: General Manager and Regional Trainer, Victoria’s Secret, for 10 years. Intern with Caruso Affiliates at The Grove in Los Angeles.
Education: B.A. in Journalism from George Mason University, Virginia; attended Glendale College as part of earning a business degree.
Personal: Graduated from Glendale High School in 1995, has lived in Glendale for 17 years. Her daughter attends R.D. White Elementary School.
About GCC: “I’m a supporter of local schools and a strong believer in the importance of high-quality local education. As a Chinese-Jamaican immigrant, I’m an avid advocate of education as a critical pathway to success for recent arrivals, and GCC definitely fills that bill.”
Current Position: Senior Vice President & Senior Director of Banking, LA Metro, Wells Fargo, where she and her team oversee and develop management and development of customized wealth management solutions for individuals, families and partnerships.
Previous Experience: Headed several Private Banking offices; also,10 years with Wells Fargo’s Warner Ranch Commercial Banking group with responsibility for establishing and managing lending and treasury management relationships with middle market companies.
Education: B.A. in Finance from the University of Western Ontario (London, Canada); MBA from Florida International University (University of Florida at Miami); licensed California insurance agent.
Personal: Resident of Glendale, her twin sons attend Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School. Former member of Glendale Kiwanis. Proficient in Spanish, conversant in French.