Daisy Gonzales, Ph.D
Daisy Gonzales, Ph.D., serves as the Deputy chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the largest system of public higher education in the United States. She leads the 116-community college system, which serves over 1.8 million students with a student-centered mindset and a goal of creating equitable and supportive ecosystems where students thrive.
She is an experienced and unapologetic advocate for student success. Born into an immigrant family in Southern California and raised as a former foster youth, Dr. Gonzales was among the first in her family to attend college. She credits her time in the Los Angeles foster care system and schools as having shaped her views of the integral role public institutions play in the lives of students and the economic development in a community.
Dr. Gonzales was appointed interim chancellor in August 2022 by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. As the CEO of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, her primary duties involved implementing the Vision for Success, a bold systemwide plan that seeks to reduce time to completion, increase degree and credential attainment, boost transfer to the University of California and California State University campuses, and provide Californians with the necessary job skills to find good-paying careers.
Her leadership as interim chancellor continued to break barriers as she is the first Latina and only the second woman to serve in the role. Dr. Gonzales works to empower students through her focus on equity and commitment to ensure students are at the center of every discussion and decision.
In addition to overseeing operational and strategic policy planning for the Chancellor’s Office, Dr. Gonzales has extensive experience leading transformational change across California’s 116 community colleges.
Prior to her appointment, she served as deputy chancellor from 2018-2022, and served as acting chancellor from July through November 2021. During her tenure, all student groups and all regions of California have seen improved outcomes. The number of students earning a college credential increased by 27% and the number of students earning transferrable associate degrees more than doubled. She is a champion of Assembly Bill 705, the state law, which calls for California Community Colleges to become the largest college system to end the flawed, high stakes student-placement assessments, and provide students direct access to transfer-level English and math with necessary supports. Under the leadership of Dr. Gonzales in the first year of implementation, the completion of transfer-level courses increased from 49% to 67% in English, and from 26% to 50% in mathematics over four years. This progress has led to more California community college students reaching their desired dreams and goals sooner.
In 2018, Dr. Gonzales oversaw the system’s adaptation of a new funding that supports student equity through intentional and strategic targeting of funds to districts serving low-income students. The implementation of the Student Centered Funding Formula (SCFF), places student success at the center of decision-making and rewards colleges who are closing student achievement gaps and helping students persist in pathways that lead to success.
As deputy chancellor, Dr. Gonzales also led the system’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility work, which has produced concrete policy changes to better serve a diverse student population by improving hiring practices and campus climate throughout California’s community colleges. This work led to the Board of Governors incorporating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility competencies and criteria into performance evaluations and tenure review for all employees in 2021. Inspired by her dissertation work, the system’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility is supported through statewide professional development and technical assistance that seeks to empower and support the development of faculty and staff in our colleges.
Prior to joining the Chancellor’s Office in 2017, Dr. Gonzales served students as a dual-immersion third-grade teacher; a budget consultant for the California State Assembly Budget Committee, where she managed $11.2 billion in state and federal programs; and was the principal consultant for the Assembly Appropriations Committee. She also served as associate director for Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a non-partisan research center at Stanford University focused on designing equitable outcomes at all levels of the state’s education system.
Dr. Gonzales is a proud community college alum of Los Angeles Valley College. She graduated from Mills College with a bachelor's degree in public policy and earned a master's degree and Ph.D. in sociology from UC Santa Barbara. She is also a former Aspen Institute presidential fellow, serves on the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and is the co-founder of the Sacramento Latina Leaders Network and the California Community Colleges Women’s Caucus. In 2021, she received the California Legislative Women’s Caucus Woman of the Year Award from Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, in recognition of her leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.