Trustees Appoint Pearl Cheng to District Board Post
Foothill-De Anza Community College District trustees unanimously appointed Pearl Cheng on Dec. 8, 2008 to fill the Board of Trustees' vacancy created by Paul Fong's election to the California State Assembly.
Cheng has served on the Cupertino Union School District Board of Education for the past eight years, been an active advocate for public education issues, and held leadership positions with the Santa Clara County School Boards Association, representing the county's 33 public K-12 school districts. Cheng said she sought the appointment with the support of the Cupertino school board and administration and plans to resign her Cupertino school board position. The Cupertino district is nationally known for its commitment to fostering academic excellence, high student achievement and innovation.
"We had many well-qualified candidates, but Pearl Cheng's experience on the Cupertino school board, which she has led as president, and her background as a countywide educational leader means she will bring immediate benefit to the district,'' said Foothill-De Anza Board President Laura Casas Frier. "Her education and management background will be a tremendous asset to our board as we work through the challenges of continuing to provide our students with high-quality education in the midst of the state budget crisis.''
Cheng has a longstanding connection to Foothill-De Anza. She has taken classes in the district; serves on the De Anza Commission, an auxiliary of the Foothill-De Anza Foundation that represents De Anza College in the local community; and is a member of the foundation's Chancellor's Circle.
"I am honored to be selected to work on behalf of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District,'' Cheng said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my service with the Cupertino Union School District and wish it continued success. My passion is education and I am excited to continue to work for the youth and community in this new capacity.''
Foothill-De Anza Chancellor Martha Kanter praised Cheng's deep and active engagement with the community. "Her knowledge of the community, her background as an engineer and her experience at NASA-Ames will enrich the breadth and depth of our board,'' Kanter said.
For the past several years, Cheng has worked as manager of self-sufficiency initiatives for the United Way Silicon Valley, which includes education programs. She directs the United Way's Alternative Education Collaborative, which builds multiple pathways to ensure that youth who are at risk of dropping out continue their education.
Before entering the world of non-profits, Cheng worked for 19 years at NASA-Ames Research Center in Mountain View, holding increasingly senior management positions and gaining experience in program and budget development, financial oversight, human resources, strategic planning, facilities planning and organizational development. Most recently, she worked as associate director for management operations in information sciences and technology, and before that was deputy division chief of the space projects division. She also participated in extensive executive training courses and internships during her career at NASA-Ames.
A Cupertino resident, Cheng holds a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Iowa.
Her appointment to fill the open board position extends until the first Monday in December, 2009. To continue service as a Foothill-De Anza trustee, Cheng would have to stand for election, and indicated Monday that she intends to do so.
Some 25 people applied to fill the Foothill-De Anza board vacancy. One candidate subsequently withdrew and another was disqualified for not living within the district. On Dec. 3, trustees selected eight finalists to interview and those interviews took place at a public meeting Monday night.
Board members expressed appreciation to all the candidates, saying it was an extraordinarily qualified group, and encouraged the applicants to stay involved with the district.
The Foothill-De Anza Community College District serves more than 45,000 students at two campuses, Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and De Anza College in Cupertino. Its governing board is made up of five elected members who are residents of the district.
Posted Dec. 9, 2008