C2C Leadership Council Highlight: Dolores Durán-Cerda
Each month we are highlighting members of our Leadership Council and showcasing their dedication to our mission of preparing every child for success in school and life. This month, we are highlighting Leadership Council Co-Chair Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda, the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Pima Community College.
What excites you most about being a Chair of the C2C Leadership Council?
I have been a member of the C2C Leadership Council for several years, and have seen it evolve and grow to what it is today. What excites and inspires me about being the Education Co-Chair is the opportunity to help lead, collaborate, and take action with local education and business leaders who are committed to collective impact, equity and economic mobility for our community. Through data and research, and as a result of the pandemic impacts, the C2C Leadership Council will take action and make an impact to reimagine K-16 education partnerships by creating a strong and resilient pipeline that equips learners with the tools and skills to reach their attainment goals in a post-Covid era.
Why does ensuring young people have access to education and career pathways matter for our community?
Our youth is our community’s future in economic development. The pandemic highlighted the dire need to provide access, equity, and innovation to them. I believe that out of a crisis come new opportunities and dialogue. With the birth dearth, Tucson being the fifth-poorest city of its size in the nation, and the unfinished learning experience due to the pandemic, the C2C Leadership Council is empowered to impact upward economic mobility for future generations by focusing on data analysis, innovative partnerships, and equitable outcomes. This will ultimately lead to transformative systemic changes for our beloved community. It is time for us to collectively recommit, re-engage, and co-develop to transform educational outcomes.
How do you see your expertise and leadership contributing to C2C?
I have been working in the field of education for 30 years. As a Latina educator and Provost at Pima Community College, a Hispanic-Serving Institution, my personal mission has always been to seek social justice for all students through teaching and learning. My maternal family roots are from the Douglas/Agua Prieta border communities and humble beginnings, with my mother, uncle, and grandparents having been migrant workers. Growing up, my grandfather would tell me, “They can take away your home, they can take away your car, but they can NEVER take away your education.” He would also tell us, “Never forget where you come from.” My Tata’s words have always remained with me throughout my academic and professional journeys.
I feel that through my own personal experiences, my having been in the classroom, and now my role as an administrator at Pima Community College, I am able to co-facilitate with our Business Co-Chair, Marc Cameron, and with Melissa Hernandez and her team. We will engage in robust discussions centering around data and research that actively remove barriers, build bridges with our K-16 and business/industry partners, and develop and advocate for equitable solutions that ultimately deliver improved outcomes for our youth and for future generations in Southern Arizona.
Is there a specific area of C2C that you are most passionate about? Why?
As the Provost/Chief Academic Officer at Pima Community College, my team and I led the College in making the unexpected pivot to virtual and online instruction when the pandemic hit. K-12 Superintendents as well as the UArizona Provost and her team did the same. We all had a shared experience where it felt like academic normalcy seemed out of reach for many students, families, and educators. In addition, struggles remain regarding mental health challenges, absenteeism, poverty, housing, and food insecurities. All of this has had a cumulative impact on our students’ academic achievement, and in the elementary schools, widening test score gaps in math and reading between low- and high-poverty schools. This is a grave concern for me, as I know it is for others, as well. However, I know the C2C Leadership Council will continue striving together to help achieve our vision of success for every child – cradle to career. We will create collective impact by addressing unfinished learning by using data and evidence-based and strategic educational interventions, and by influencing policy solutions to help our community’s youth for long-term impacts – in particular, the underrepresented.