About This Episode

Season 3. Episode 5.

In the Inland Empire, our students count on teachers and administrators to help them make it to graduation. But in fact, they, our whole community, are counting on legislators to create good education policies. Policy that makes the road to graduation equitable, affordable, and possible. Are the policies that affect our students working for them or against them? This week three top experts lay it out for us. Dr. Nohemy Ornelas, Vice Chancellor of Educational and Student Support Services for the San Bernardino Community College District. Ann Marie Sakrekoff, the Interim CEO of Growing Inland Achievement, and Dr. Brittnee Quintanar, of Norco College conducted a study that put her in front of our top education leaders asking what they think about it. Join us for the next Education Insight. 

Featured Guests

Dr. Brittnee Quintanar

Norco College, Counselor and Instructor.


Brittnee Amberley Quintanar, Ph.D., has worked in higher education since 2006, primarily with California community colleges located in the Inland Empire of southern California, a region with historically low college-going and completion rates. Previous roles include alumni coordinator, grant program coordinator, and institutional researcher. Presently Dr. Quintanar serves as counselor, guidance instructor, and guided pathways faculty coordinator at Norco College. Her work over the last decade helping primarily neo-traditional students navigate the complexities of our higher education systems, serve as the as the impetus for her policy-focused research and advocacy.

Dr. Nohemy Ornelas

Vice Chancellor of Educational and Student Support Services, San Bernardino Community College District.


Dr. Nohemy Ornelas is the Vice Chancellor of Educational and Student Services at the San Bernardino Community College District, where she oversees industry partnerships, workforce training, and manages programs to support students reach their academic and career goals. Throughout her 25 years serving the public and 18 years in higher education, Dr. Ornelas has promoted equity-minded programs to expand educational opportunities for students and families. Before joining SBCCD, Dr. Ornelas served as Associate Superintendent/Vice President for Student Services at Allan Hancock College, focusing on implementing the college’s Student Equity Plan, SSSP, Outreach Plan, the Noncredit Student Success and Support Plan, and the Student Equity and Achievement Program. She developed the college’s center for Dreamers, expanded the Student Veteran and DSPS programs, and rolled out the Hancock Promise. She has received numerous accolades, including the Future Leaders of America Latino Legacy Award, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Honored Alumni, the Pacific Coast Business Times 40 under 40 award, and Santa Barbara County’s Commission for Women Service Award. A first-generation college student, Dr. Ornelas began her educational career as a community college student, completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara, master’s degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and earned her doctorate in education at California State University, Fresno.

Ann Marie Sakrekoff

Interim President & CEO, Growing Inland Achievement.


Ann Marie Sakrekoff has been named Interim President & CEO of Growing Inland Achievement (GIA), effective May 15, following the retirement of Dr. Carlos Ayala.

GIA serves San Bernardino and Riverside Counties as a regional, cross-sector network of education, government, nonprofit and business partners in the Inland Empire; collectively, they work towards a shared vision of educational and economic success.

Sakrekoff has over 20 years of higher education and nonprofit leadership experience, including her current role as GIA’s Chief Operating Officer.

Sakrekoff stated, “I am proud and excited to take on the Interim CEO role during such an exciting time for GIA as we continue building on our service to the Inland Empire educational network of students, families, institutions, and community partners. GIA will remain focused on its mission, impact, and growth while we search for our next permanent CEO.”

Interview Highlights

5:14 – Brittnee describes her research on public higher education. 

6:11 – Brittnee reflects on how she helps students on a day-day basis and helps navigate their way through higher education.

9:23 – Brittnee shares more details on her recent dissertation study.

13:13 – Brittnee explains the startling discovery behind research regarding the roadblocks to local college and university student success.

31:30 – Nohemy describes how the student experience has improved as a direct result of good policy.

33:26 – Nohemy shares an area that really needs work and could benefit from the policy change.

35:35 – Nohemy describes the process of developing district policy and procedures for educational services.

39:19 – Nohemy talks about work being done locally and on capitol hill to address current student barriers and issues. 

42:27 – Ann Marie gives insight into hot topics surrounding local and statewide education policy.

44:04 – Ann Marie shares some of the good work being done here locally in the Inland Empire.

46:22 – Ann Marie shares the positive impacts seen due to Assembly Bill 469 being passed.

View our podcast page for more stories like this: https://inlandempiregia.org/gia-podcasts/

Education Insight tells the story of education in the Inland Empire through the diverse voices of those in and around the regional education community. The show is produced by Growing Inland Achievement, a collective impact organization in the Inland Empire with a mission to increase economic prosperity in the region by increasing educational attainment. Hosted by 30-year broadcast veteran Lacey Kendall, monthly shows explore topics ranging from education challenges and shortcomings to innovations and groundbreaking ideas that are driving student success.

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