Four new regents include state finance director, union president
In a press release on August 6, Governor Jerry Brown announced the appointment of four individuals to the UC Board of Regents. The new regents are Laphonza Butler, Michael Cohen, Cecilia V. Estolano and Richard H. Leib.
The California Senate must first confirm the new appointees, though they are permitted to begin serving immediately after Brown’s announcement. Regents serve 12-year terms.
The four new appointees come from private, state and public sectors. Estolano and Leib are both chief executive officers, Butler is the president of a California health care employee union and Cohen serves as California’s Department of Finance director.
On June 2, UC President Janet Napolitano commented on the new appointees.
“Serving on the UC Board of Regents offers a powerful opportunity to shape California higher education for years to come and ensure that future students receive the same excellent UC education as did previous generations of Californians,” she said.
Kathryn Lyberger, president of AFSCME Local 299, spoke about the need for union representation in the Board of Regents and the importance of Butler’s selection in a press release.
“Butler has seen the struggle of working people like those that AFSCME Local 3299 represents,” Lyberger said in the release. “For years, she’s fought for justice on the side of labor and her long-standing history of sticking up for low-income women of color tells us that she understands what must be done to restore UC’s reputation for equality and justice. We know that Laphonza will be the champion of labor that UC workers sorely needed.”
Laphonza Butler is the president of Service Employees International Union Local 2015, a caretaker and health care worker union which includes 325,000 California nursing homes and home-care workers. Butler’s union helped to pass the first $15 statewide minimum wage. SEIU represents one employee group at only one university in the system, UC Irvine.
Butler served as president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers for seven years. Now, she serves as a board member for the National Children’s Defense Fund and the Bay Area Economic Council Institute and chairs the University of California African American Advisory Council.
Sacramento’s Michael Cohen has been Brown’s Department of Finance director since 2013.
San Diegan Richard Leib worked as a consultant for the waste management company Liquid Environmental Solutions prior to last year. He now serves as chief executive officer for Dunleer Strategies, another waste management firm.
And Pasadena resident Cecilia Estolano, who has a law degree and master’s degree in urban planning, is a co-founder and executive with the public policy and urban planning firm Estolano LeSar Advisors. Estolano is also president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.
Estolano is the third democrat on the board, with Cohen registering no party preference.
There are now 26 regents, 18 of whom have been appointed by the governor. All are ex-officio members who are grandfathered in by their previous office, besides the student officer regent.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “of the 13 regents currently serving, eight are white, three are Latino, one is black and one is Asian American.”
Written by: Aaron Liss — firstname.lastname@example.org