Dr. Omero Suarez has been an educational leader for over 30 years, serving as chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in San Diego County from 1998 to 2009, when he retired. As an Achieving the Dream coach, Dr. Suarez consults with community colleges in California, Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas.
Dr. Suarez has been recognized as a change agent focused on creating pathways for equity and access to higher education for all students. His leadership positions include Deputy Chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago (1994–1998); President of East Los Angeles College (1989–1994); and founding president of the Valencia Campus of the University of New Mexico (1981–1989). Dr. Suarez has taught in the doctoral program for community college leadership at San Diego State University and serves as president of the board of directors for the Institute for Evidenced Based Change (IEBC) in Encinitas, California.
Dr. Suarez has worked tirelessly to strengthen the educational pipeline from kindergarten, to the community college, to the university. Statewide, Dr. Suarez led the effort to secure equitable funding for community colleges, working to close the gap between the highest- and lowest-funded districts in the state.
Ph.D. (Administration of Higher Education) | University of Oklahoma
M.A. (Counseling Psychology) | University of Nebraska
B.A. (Spanish) | Chadron State College (Nebraska)
Chancellor | Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District
Deputy Chancellor | City Colleges of Chicago
President | East Los Angeles College
President | University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus
How has education changed your life/your family?
I was the fourth of ten children, and my parents’ highest dream for us was to graduate from high school. Given my parents’ humble beginnings as immigrants from Mexico without a history of education in the family, this expectation was one that I was determined to achieve. While working the fields with my parents in Nebraska, watching them struggle to support the family, attending segregated schools, I vowed to pursue an education that allowed me to pave the way out of poverty for my family. As the first to graduate from college, earn a bachelor’s, master’s, and later doctoral degree, I have dedicated my life’s work to eliminating barriers for students by creating equitable pathways into higher education, with a focus on students from minoritized communities.