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Latinos Elected to Top Education Posts

By Jorge Casuso

Dec. 6 -- For the first time in the city's history, Hispanics will hold the top local educational posts after Dr, Margaret Quiñones was elected chair of the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees last Monday night and Dr. José Escarce was elected president of the school board Thursday night.

Helping the cash-strapped districts navigate through the toughest economic times in recent memory will be Carol Curry and Emily Bloomfield, who were elected respectively as vice chair of the college board and vice president of the school board.

"Whenever you take on leadership responsibilities, you never know how its going to be," said Quiñones, who will succeed Herb Roney as chair. "Sometimes there are just things you can't control, like the budget in Sacramento.

"Last year was the worst because it was the initial impact" of the State budget cuts, said Quiñones, who was elected to the board in November 2000. "People have a hard time believing it was that bad.

"Now it's going to be bracing for another tidal wave or rebuilding back from the destruction that was handed to us," said Quiñones. "People say, 'What's going to happen?' I say, 'I wish I knew.' I know both myself and José are walking into a wait-and-see mode. I am. I think everybody in the state is."

A counselor at El Camino College in Torrance, Quiñones has had broad experience at community colleges and social service agencies. A former member of the school board, she has also been active in several professional and community organizations, primarily in educational and Latino organizations.

An SMC graduate, she received her bachelor's degree in mental health research methods from California State University at Dominguez Hills, a master's in counseling psychology from the University of Southern California, and a doctorate in educational leadership from UCLA. She was also a fellow of the JFK Harvard School of Government.

Escarce, an M.D. who will succeed Maria Leon-Vazquez as president, was elected to the school board in November 2000. Currently, he is Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Senior Natural Scientist at RAND.

Dr. Escarce graduated from Princeton University, earned a Master's degree in Physics from Harvard University, obtained his medical degree and doctorate in health economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and completed his residency at Stanford University.

Dr. Escarce has served on the National Advisory Council for Health Care Policy, Research, and Evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services, and currently serves on the National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. He is past Chair of the Health Economics Committee of the American Public Health Association.

Escarce was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care and is currently a member of the National Research Council Panel on DHHS Collection of Data on Race and Ethnicity. Dr. Escarce's research interests include provider and patient behavior under economic incentives, access to care, racial and ethnic disparities in care, and the impact of managed care on cost and quality.

Currey, who was elected to the college board in April 1979, has served as chair four times and is serving her fifth one-year term as vice chair. A former member of the school board, she has long been involved in a wide range of community and educational organizations.

She was elected five times to the California Community College Trustees Board of Directors and served as President in 2001-02. She is also on the Board of the Community College Leadership Development Initiative Foundation and has been appointed a lay member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Board of Appeals.

She has served on the State Committee of Practitioners for Vocational Education, the Regional Workforce Preparation and Economic Development Act Advisory Group, and the Consultation Task Force on the Review of Participatory Governance.

Currey -- who currently teaches current affairs/history classes to older adults and high school diploma courses through the Culver City Unified School District's adult education -- is a member of the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum Board of Directors. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Family Service of Santa Monica and is a member of the National Women's Political Caucus and the League of Women Voters.

Currey received her bachelor's degree in history of art and French from Northwestern University and a master's degree in teaching English from Columbia University Teachers College.

An economist with a B.A., M.P.A and M.Phil in Economics, Bloomfield was elected to the school board in November 2002. Before joining the board, she was a member of the district's strategic planning design team, PTA and school site governance council.

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