Maricopa Community Colleges, District 3

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    Sherman L. Elliott

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    Marie Sullivan

  • Debi Vandenboom

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Biographical Information

What makes you the best person for the job?

How long have you lived in Arizona?

Do you have a college degree (s) and if so, what are the degree (s) and the colleges?

Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, please provide details.

Why are you running for Maricopa Community Colleges Governing Board?

Do you support or oppose the district’s decision to eliminate faculty meet-and-confer and replace it with another process? Please explain why.

Do you support or oppose the district’s decision to eliminate junior college football after the 2018 season? Please explain why.

What role, if any, should sports such as football play in the overall education offered at the community colleges?

What would you do to secure state funding after it was eliminated in 2016?

Student enrollment dropped dramatically during the recession and is leveling off. What would you do to reverse that trend, increase enrollment and improve graduation rates?

There are different philosophies about role of the community colleges in higher education. What is yours? Should the colleges focused on preparing students to transfer to a four-year-college or 2-year technical training to get a job?

The current governing board wants to get away from using voter-approved bonds to fund construction projects. The money would instead come from the district’s general budget. Do you support or oppose this? Please explain why.

What do you think are the three biggest challenges faced by the Maricopa Community Colleges and, if elected, what will you do to address those challenges?

Age 53
Family I am the father of three: a collegiate daughter, a teenage son, and a loving beagle. My wife Lisa is my biggest supporter.
Education Arizona State University Degree Name: Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Field Of Study: Teaching Innovation & Leadership University of San Francisco Degree Name: Bachelor's degree Field Of Study: Political Science and Government
Work history Grand Canyon University Dates Employed: Jan 2011 – Present Employment Duration: 7 yrs 8 mos Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Assistant Dean Dates Employed: Jun 2012 – Jun 2014 Employment Duration: 2 yrs 1 mo Location: Grand Canyon University College of Arts and Sciences Chair, Secondary Education Dates Employed: Jan 2011 – May 2012 Employment Duration: 1 yr 5 mos Location: Phoenix. Arizona Director Center for Civic Education & Clinical Assistant Professor of Secondary Education Company Name: Arizona State University Dates Employed: Aug 2007 – Dec 2010 Employment Duration: 3 yrs 5 mos Principal Company Name: St. John Bosco School Dates Employed: May 2006 – May 2009 Employment Duration: 3 yrs 1 mo Teacher Company Name: Brophy College Preparatory Dates Employed: Aug 1997 – May 2003 Employment Duration: 5 yrs 10 mos Location: Phoenix, Arizona Social Studies Teacher Taught Economics, AP Economics, Ethics, Environmental Ethics Moderated Model United Nations Club
Previous public office N/A
Campaign Phone (602) 456-0570
My 22 years of leadership experience in higher education, including being an adjunct with Phoenix and Rio Salado Colleges has led me to this platform: making college affordable and accessible. I am passionate about the needs of the community, and ensuring that everybody is able to acquire the skills needed to get a job to better themselves and their family. As voting members of society, you can count on me to introduce smart business practices that will allow the colleges to eliminate redundancies which in turn will lead to lower costs for students and tax-payers. My goal is for you to gain a better understanding of these needs by taking the time to explore the 6-point plan I developed to ensure our growth and stability in education. You can view this at
Having lived in Arizona for thirty years, I understand the values of its thriving academic culture, part of which includes my wife, Lisa, who is a native Arizonan. I was welcomed into a family with strong roots in the state. Lisa’s grandmother, Ida Westfall, came to the valley in the early twentieth century in a covered wagon in 1914 and walked in the Arizona Statehood Day parade. The history grounded in my family drives me to give back to the community which has nurtured us for generations.
Arizona State University Degree Name: Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Field Of Study: Teaching Innovation & Leadership

University of San Francisco Degree Name: Bachelor's Degree Field Of Study: Political Science and Government
I have never been convicted of a crime.
I am running for Maricopa Community Colleges Governing Board because I believe that my 22 years of leadership experience in higher education, including being an adjunct with Phoenix and Rio Salado Colleges has led me to this platform: making college affordable and accessible. I am passionate about the needs of the community, and ensuring that everybody is able to acquire the skills needed to get a job to better themselves and their family. As voting members of society, you can count on me to introduce smart business practices that will allow the colleges to eliminate redundancies which in turn will lead to lower costs for students and tax-payers. My goal is for you to gain a better understanding of these needs by taking the time to explore the 6-point plan I developed to ensure our growth and stability in education. You can view this at
As an adjunct faculty member for Maricopa Community Colleges for over 22 years and as a dean at a local university, I emphatically support faculty and their role in the overall decision-making process in the district. Faculty must be able to offer a strong voice on matters that effect learning outcomes, the culture of their community college, and their job expectations. I would like to be a part of a team that takes a deep dive into the historical use of Meet-and-Confer to use its best attributes for promoting a robust community college system in the 21st Century.
I fondly remember attending football games at Phoenix College and thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of the game, the cheer squads, and the crowds. Unfortunately, the costs of playing football have become exorbitant and continue to eat into the overall athletic budget. By finding private sources of funds, hopefully we can supplement the increasing impact to the existing athletic budget and support the role football has held in our community.
The role of athletics as well as all extracurricular opportunities such as music, dance, theater, and speech and debate to name a few, is an important component of an individual’s experience during their first two years of college. We must work diligently to ensure that as many of these programs are able to thrive in an era of important cost savings. By using smart business practices to increase the use of resources and eliminate redundancies within the overall system, we may very well be able to maintain the meaningful role that extra curriculars have in the college experience.
One of the crucial aspects of being a Governing Board Member is to advocate on behalf of the community colleges to ensure that a clear funding path is maintained. The state has a vested interest in promoting MCCCD’S value of creating responsible citizens who are change makers in their community. My role as a Governing Board Member is to help the legislature see that the state’s investment in the students at MCCCD provides social and economic benefits to its citizens and the state as a whole.
To increase graduation rates and enrollment we need a multi-pronged approach in which all stakeholders are working toward this common goal. To start, college must be affordable and accessible. Students need to have access to resources that support their successful completion of college, including financial assistance, academic coaching, work-study jobs, and childcare. Relevant, industry-based programs need to be developed and promoted so that potential students of any age can see the value of investing in their education. Knowing that they are becoming competent in specific skills that employers want, students will enroll in and complete MCCCD programs.
One of the most powerful institutions in our country is the local community college. The idea that we have the opportunity to change our lives through learning regardless of our age or background is a cornerstone of the public educational system in America. We should always be a one-stop shop for everyone. For those who desire a four-year degree, we should be able to provide a solid general education that prepares someone for a university program. At the same time, we must have industry relevant vocational training in abundance. We have a shortage of skilled trade workers in America now and the community college should be there to fill the gap. The community college should be an institution that responds to the changing needs of the workforce, and prepares students to be productive members of the economy of the century.
Funding needs to be consistent to operate and grow our community college system. At the same time, we have to consider how our requests impact the tax payer. By improving operational efficiencies in the district and eliminating redundancies, the general budget may be able to cover some of the costs of construction projects. If there are times where we really need to expand and we do not have funds in the general budget, we may have to examine bonding.
The three biggest challenges facing our community college system are enrollment, controlling costs, and preparing people for jobs. If elected, I would use my 22 plus years of knowledge from higher education to increase the number of students enrolled in college. We have to reach out to wider segments of the population who need retraining to secure higher paying jobs for themselves and their family. The community college needs to hire and sustain the best possible faculty and staff. To do this, we need to create a culture that utilizes smart business practices to increase efficiencies and eliminate redundancies. I have been a part of a university that has not increased tuition in 10 years by creating a culture that uses stakeholders’ resources wisely. To prepare students for the job market, we must create stronger partnerships with industries to ensure that our curriculum is aligned with what employers need now and in the future.
Age 68
Family Married for 35 years to the same man; two adult children
Education Attended University of Washington
Work history Current nonprofit and business consultant specializing in workforce/economic development; CEO of large nonprofit for 20 years; Public Policy Specialist and Educator 20 years as CEO of large state nonprofit, noted as Businesswoman of the Year by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; Five years as Executive Director of an agency of Catholic Charities Education and Social Service Policy specialist; Fund Raising Professional
Previous public office Governing Board member of the Madison Elementary School District, two terms; served as President and as Clerk.
Campaign Phone (602) 576-4333
I will bring a lifetime of executive leadership experience from the private, nonprofit, and education sectors to the Maricopa County Community Colleges. I have a vision of a smart, affordable, world-class, 21st Century education for students in Maricopa County and I can help make that happen. I am the best person for the job because I have been invested in and dedicated to education and employment issues most of my professional life. I bring the skills and talent to move those issues forward, to spotlight challenges and reach sensible solutions with transparency, collaboration and cost efficiency. I am the best person for the job because of my values of integrity and respect for all. Our community’s residents deserve access to an affordable education, to affordable opportunities for career training, and a path to better jobs and better wages. I believe in the Colleges. I have what it takes – the energy and the commitment – to give the Colleges the leadership they need and deserve.
I have lived in Arizona since 1974. I initially lived in Tucson for five years and moved to the Valley of the Sun in 1979. I settled here, married my husband, had our two children, developed dear friendships and established our family and my career in Phoenix. I am a transplant from the Pacifica Northwest, and though beautiful, it's not home. Arizona is. The people, the landscape, and the opportunities in Arizona are why we are here and are committed to public service and contributing to the health and economic wellbeing of the State, Maricopa County in particular.
I am a lifelong learner, dedicated to continuous education in multiple fields, and have taken and completed coursework of interest at Phoenix College, University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. Formally, I attended the University of Washington as an English major but did not complete my degree. I reflect many of the students I aspire to serve.
I believe in affordable, accessible education opportunities for people in our communities. I have a long history of supporting and advocating on behalf of all levels of education -- from preschool to college. I am running because a strong community college system creates a strong workforce and economy. We must ensure our colleges are affordable, innovative and serving the needs of our students and their future employers. I cannot stand by as the current governing board dismantles its tradition of high quality, affordable and accessible education, including innovative approaches to successful career training. As an observer, a participant, and an “Athena” Businesswoman of the Year recipient from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, I know how our Community Colleges can benefit people and businesses. As a person experienced in school board governance, I am running to bring that knowledge for good results and fiscal management to the Board.
The faculty are among our colleges’ most valuable assets, and so I oppose the district’s decision to eliminate faculty meet and confer, especially without something in its place. And, untiI I know and understand another process that is collaboratively discussed, I am withholding judgment on the adequacy of another process to replace it. Meet and confer, especially in higher education, establishes transparent, collaborative relationships between administration, staff, faculty, and the Board. Everyone, particularly students, benefits when there is shared dialogue to establish district priorities and direction. Excluding or ignoring the voice of one critical segment of employees fails students and taxpayers. As a past school board member, I saw firsthand what the meet and confer process achieved for a high functioning school district. As with all important processes, change may be needed, but this discussion deserved more deliberation.
The publicly available study and data that guided this decision appears insufficient to justify a decision of this magnitude. More discussion is needed in an open, public forum with input from all stakeholders, and I would encourage and support reopening this topic for discussion at the Board level. The lack of transparency that seems to accompany district decisions is an ongoing concern that I will seek to remedy, and the football decision seems to reflect that concern. We, as taxpayers, and all stakeholders deserve open decision making and open leadership, and I will shine a spotlight on practices that abandon community and stakeholder involvement for the sake of expediency.
I am supportive of athletics as part of the overall education model offered at the community colleges. Community colleges exist as the bridge to many futures – to higher education, to careers, to stable and secure lives. There are many pathways that community colleges provide as that bridge. Athletics is often the only pathway for some to leverage to make that next step, to that better future. When the district eliminated football after the 2018 season it directly and indirectly impacted the lives of current and future students. It is difficult to support any decision that reduces educational opportunity or access for anyone. I support multiple pathways to achieve access – and that includes athletics and athletic scholarships.
Eliminating state funding to community colleges was a mistake. Though some funding was restored to the rural community colleges, Maricopa remains unfunded. Establishing strong working relationships with state legislators is important to restore funding. I have worked as an advocate on community issues and served as a representative of my congressional district for education efforts and policies, so I am no stranger to the productive conversations and progress that can be made by engaging legislators. These relationships and the transparent and honest balancing of needs against wise use of dollars with our state legislators can make a difference. In addition, several of our current Board members are on record rejecting the need for securing state funding and making that position known to our legislators. That is unacceptable leadership. Your dollars need to work for affordable and accessible education and career training and our Board conversations with State leaders needs to change.
The first duty is to the success of the students already enrolled at the colleges. Students face many barriers to success and providing and improving the supports we offer to help them succeed on their chosen paths will increase enrollment – as they will return rather than drop out/stop out, and increase graduation rates because they have been set up for success. Once an environment is established where students are known to succeed, new enrollment should follow as the colleges’ reputation for success spreads. To improve upon the colleges’ environment for student success, I will continue to advocate for quality education and training through improved infrastructure - from streamlining student registration to the creation of workforce development programs, internships, and apprenticeships. I will also promote engagement with many sectors of our community and honor the mandate to give educational access to any student, regardless of challenges, desires, backgrounds, and ability to pay.
Community Colleges are the bridges to bright futures, and the preferred choice of many. Whether pursuing an associate’s degree as a step toward a bachelor’s degree, or earning an associate’s degree, or achieving a certificate - as a cosmetologist, LPN, dental hygienist, or law enforcement officer (either path will advance someone into a career), community colleges provide all of these opportunities and they are not mutually exclusive. Community Colleges offer study in multiple disciplines and partner with key businesses and trades to facilitate fast and agile access to well-paying jobs. And, perhaps most importantly, community colleges are low-cost, affordable, and beat the competition on tuition and student debt.
I am fiscally responsible. But, we cannot cut costs and quality and expect an improved outcome. Perhaps, down the road, it makes sense to use general budget monies rather than bonds for construction. Until we are delivering the best education, with the highest levels of fiscal responsibility and transparency, it is difficult to reject the very funding source that built Arizona’s entire education system. We need to show that we are using taxpayer money wisely and efficiently and fulfill our mission to deliver excellence before we make decisions as important as this one.
Protecting the taxpayers’ investment, staying student focused, and lack of leadership, accountability, and transparency are interrelated challenges. Protecting taxpayers’ investment can only be done if every dollar spent benefits students who will become our future workforce and community leaders. Protecting that investment can only be accomplished through leadership that is bold, transparent, and accountable to the community. By effectively operationalizing its intention to stay student focused, we protect your money and use it wisely to provide students an excellent education and opportunities that meet future employers’ needs. Regardless of the challenges, leaders must be willing to put a spotlight on them. Having the experience and knowledge to work through them – as I do – is imperative.I'm committed to transparency, to asking questions, and to seeking solutions. I'm willing and eager to face our challenges and find the best pathways to excellence. I’m the best person for the job.
Age 50
Family I have been married for 24 years and have 4 daughters ranging in age from 12 to 21.
Education I have a B.A. in Education, that had an emphasis on bilingual/ ESL education from ASU (1992) and M.A. in Education: Management of Programs from the University of Phoenix (2000)
Work history I have taught in Creighton, Glendale Elementary and Paradise Valley Unified school districts. I have also taught as adjunct faculty at GCC. For the last several years I have been a private tutor, including tutoring at a foster care group home. I also currently teach high school level math and Spanish classes at KEYS of Arizona.
Previous public office Precinct Committeeman
Campaign Phone (602) 628-6755
The Maricopa Community College District is a multi-billion dollar business. It is one of the best in the nation. I believe that it is extremely important to use that money wisely. Having a background in education, I will be able to recognize which areas are the most important so we can provide the best possible education, while also being responsible stewards of the taxpayers' money.
I am a lifelong Phoenician. I grew up in and continue to live in the district I plan to serve.
B.A. Ed from ASU M.A. Ed from University of Phoenix
I have lived and worked in this community my entire life. I have a long history of community service. I believe in servant leadership and would love the opportunity to serve my community on the college board. There are so many amazing opportunities for students to either be trained for jobs in growing fields or to find a pathway to a four year university. I would love to help expand those opportunities for students while keeping the cost to parents, students and taxpayers as low as possible.
I support it. Collective bargaining for public employees is against the law. The important thing is for faculty and staff to have a reasonable and effective means of communicating with administration. That can easily be done in other ways.
It's so unfortunate that schools around the country are eliminating football. It is important to many families and students. But the reality is that insurance costs and the risk of lawsuits are so high that schools across the country are being priced out. If those insurance costs change in the future, I would love to look at the possibility of bringing it back.
Many students gain scholarships and school opportunities through athletics. It is and has always been an important part of campus life both at universities and community colleges.
I don't think it's necessary.
One key is to provide courses and training that match job trends and market needs. Keeping tuition low is also a factor, especially as four year schools continue to become more expensive.
They should absolutely be doing both.
Again, a fiscally responsible board should be able to use the current funds wisely without needing to add to the taxpayers' burden.
Keeping tuition low, providing programs and fields of study that have real world application and keeping costs reasonable.