Photos of Diana Z Rodriguez and Michelle Decker
For Immediate Release
INLAND EMPIRE, CA – September 16, 2021 – Growing Inland Achievement (GIA), during its Toward a Shared Vision regional convening, announced the addition of two Governing Board Members: Diana Z Rodriguez, Chancellor of San Bernardino Community College District, and Michelle Decker, President and CEO of Inland Empire Community Foundation. They will join a Governing Board of nine other regional leaders who provide strategic direction and guidance on achieving GIA’s mission of creating educational and economic equity by researching issues and opportunities, resourcing innovations and solutions, and connecting diverse stakeholders to transform the Inland Empire through education.
“We are extremely grateful to welcome Diana and Michelle to the GIA Board of Directors,” said Dr. Carlos Ayala, President and CEO at GIA. “They each provide our board with a unique background and perspective and we look forward to benefiting from their expertise and guidance.”
Diana Z. Rodriguez is the 16th chancellor of the San Bernardino Community College District — a system that serves 20,000 students through Crafton Hills College, San Bernardino Valley College, a workforce training facility, and KVCR public radio and television station. As the chief executive officer, Chancellor Rodriguez leads the district’s educational enterprise that generates economic growth for the Inland Empire by adding more than $621 million annually to the regional economy. She is the only Latina chancellor of a community college district in Southern California upon assuming office in August 2021.
Learn More about Diana Z Rodriguez
In collaboration with the SBCCD Board of Trustees, Chancellor Rodriguez has laid out four goals:
- Promoting student academic and career success.
- Nurturing a learning and working environment based on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
- Elevating the community college district’s engagement in the region.
- Ensuring the district’s financial health.
Like many SBCCD students, Chancellor Rodriguez is the first in her family to achieve a college education. She is a proud graduate of Palo Verde College and a transfer student to California State University, San Bernardino, where she earned a bachelor’s in marketing, a master’s degree in business administration, and another master’s degree in education. She is a doctoral candidate in Higher Educational Leadership at Northcentral University.
Chancellor Rodriguez previously served as president of San Bernardino Valley College from July 2016 through July 2021. During her tenure, SBVC faculty and staff spearheaded educational strategies to earn the campus the highest level of accreditation — among the best in California.
Chancellor Rodriguez has a long and distinguished career of more than 30 years working in higher education as a faculty member and an administrator, advocating for student success and a strong connection to the community. Before leading San Bernardino Valley College, she served as Vice President of Student Services and Interim Vice President of Academic Services at Las Positas College in the Bay Area of California and Vice President of Student Services at Palo Verde College in Blythe.
Her accomplishments have drawn several awards, including the 2018 Woman of the Year Award for the 47th Assembly District of California.
Michelle Decker is the President and CEO of the Inland Empire Community Foundation serving San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. She held leadership positions in community-based nonprofits for over 27 years, with a focus on community economic development, community development, and sustainability. She has also specialized in building or re-building nonprofit organizations at the local level in both urban and rural communities. All of these efforts have meant developing deep experience in partnerships and collaborations – with other nonprofits, local, state, and federal governments, and private businesses.
Learn More about Michelle Decker
Prior to joining the Foundation, Michelle was the CEO of Rural Action, a membership-based community development corporation in Appalachian, Ohio, working to build a more just economy through leadership development, social enterprises, and environmental restoration. She initiated multiple social enterprises including a produce auction serving regional farmers, a Zero Waste Event Production business, and a water quality initiative with multiple higher education and natural resource partners. Michelle expanded Rural Action’s national service program from 6 to 40 members. She partnered with the USFS for 10 years to undertake watershed restoration, native plant restoration, and environmental education. She collaborated with the USDA on food systems and local agricultural efforts, and with the Appalachian Regional Commission and Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, now part of LOCUS and Virginia Community Capital, to bring greater entrepreneurship potential and small businesses to towns in southeast Ohio.
Before working in Appalachian Ohio, Michelle ran Southeast Community Development Corporation in Baltimore City and helped re-build the state’s community development trade association called the Asset Building Community Development Network. She worked at the Faith Fund, a faith-based CDFI, and was the first program officer for Community Economic Development at the Maryland Center for Community Development.
Today her work is focused on expanding the power of philanthropy across the Inland Empire’s 27,000 square miles and extremely diverse geographies and populations. IECF was California’s ACBO for Region 7 during the 2020 Census, recently hired a Director of Policy and Governmental Affairs, and is establishing the backbone function for the Inland Economic Growth and Opportunity strategy. Michelle lives with her husband Zach, also a community development professional, and their two children in Riverside.