Santa Rosa Junior College Presidential Finalists Selected and Forums Scheduled


March 14, 2023, Santa Rosa, CA - Following a national search, the Sonoma County Junior College District Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that they have selected four finalists for the presidency of the College.  The finalists will participate in public forums at the Burbank Auditorium on the Santa Rosa campus according to the following schedule.

Monday, March 27, 2023
8:30 am – Dr. Kimberlee Messina
10:15 am – Dr. Nicole Esposito
1:00 pm – Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
8:30 am – Dr. Angélica Garcia

“We would like to thank all of the communities served by the College for your continued interest and support in the process to identify our next President," said Dorothy Battenfeld, Board President. "I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee for their exceptional work and effort."

The forums will be held in person, as well as live-stream add recorded.  The recording of the forums will be available for viewing.  Full biographies of the candidates and links to participate can be found at

  Employees, students, and community members are encouraged to submit questions for the finalists prior to the forums. Questions must be submitted in advance by 5 pm Wednesday, March 22 through this link: Due to potential time constraints, not all questions submitted may be addressed or may possibly be combined into specific topic categories. 

Following the forums, employees, students, and community members will be invited to provide feedback to the Board via an online survey which can be found at

A summary of completed forms will be given to the board for their review. Feedback from public forums will be added to the information considered by the board.

About the Finalists

Dr. Kimberlee Messina

Dr. Kimberlee S. Messina is a passionate and committed Community College educator who has been serving as President of Spokane Falls Community College in the state of Washington since June 2019. Prior to this appointment, she worked in the California Community College system for 26 years.

Dr. Messina is an Aspen Presidential Fellow and spent 10 years as a tenured faculty member at Santa Rosa Junior College where she infused equity and innovation in her Spanish curriculum. During that time, she served two terms as the Academic Senate President before being appointed as the Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. As Dean, she worked closely with college personnel, local industry, and non-profits to increase access and success for underrepresented students.

Dr. Messina joined Foothill College as the Vice President of Instruction and Institutional Research in May of 2011. She also served as the Interim President of the college for the 2015-2016 academic year. Dr. Messina has extensive experience in Guided Pathways, curriculum, equity-infused pedagogy, strategic planning, and accreditation.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Arts in Spanish from California State University, Sacramento, and earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Messina is an active participant in statewide organizations and policy groups in the state of Washington and served on the Board of the Association of California Community College Administrators and the Advisory Committee for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative, as well as seven accreditation site visits.


Dr. Nicole Esposito

Dr. Nicole Esposito is the Chief Executive Officer of Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut. She holds a Doctorate in Educational Psychology, a C.A.G.S. in Adjustment Counseling, and an MS in Forensic Psychology with a focus on Forensic Neuropsychology. She is a leader in DEIA work within higher education at both the national and local levels. She was the recipient of the AAWCC Mildred Bulpitt National Woman of the Year award for her courageous leadership and commitment to equity. She was also the recipient of a “Special Congressional Recognition” from Congressman John Larson for her unwavering advocacy in higher education. In 2022, she also secured state-wide commitments to improve policies and procedures that support equity and anti-discriminatory practices in higher education. The last decade of her career has included appointments, such as serving as a member of the executive team for Springfield Technical Community College, serving as an academic department head, and being a long-time faculty member within the social sciences. She also has extensive experience in strategic planning, accreditation and compliance, and managing multimillion-dollar budgets. A few of her notable accomplishments include creating a plan to reform the general education curriculum and state-wide alignment, developing parameters for assessment, and successfully completing a 10-year college reaccreditation in 2022.

Early in her career, Dr. Esposito was a mental health clinician serving at-risk youth in local urban communities. She was a community mental health outreach clinician for a multicultural clinic located in Springfield, MA. In addition, she owned and operated a successful psychotherapy practice and consultation business serving a similar population of underserved individuals in the community.

Dr. Esposito has more than a decade of teaching experience as well. She started her career at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, MA. Since that time, she has developed and taught a variety of courses for 2-year, 4-year, and graduate school programs. She served as a full-time Professor, Academic Department Head, Assistant Dean, Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus, faculty representative for the CSCU Transfer and Articulation Policy, elected representative for the Framework and Implementation Review Committee, elected representative of the Faculty Advisory Committee, member of Threat Assessment and Behavioral Intervention Team, and as a member of the Title IX Resource team, to name a few.

Dr. Esposito is actively involved in her community by serving on a variety of local boards and, formerly, as an elected member of the School Council in Longmeadow, MA.


Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay

Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay has been a transformational leader in three community colleges, Cypress, Columbia, and Modesto Junior College. He served as the President of Columbia College and Modesto Junior College (MJC), both within Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) from July 2018 to January 2023. As the Executive Vice President at Cypress College from July 2013 to July 2018, Dr. Bandyopadhyay was responsible for both instructional programs and student services. He is currently serving as the Interim President of Woodland Community College since January 2023.

A first-generation immigrant, Dr. Bandyopadhyay earned his MBA and Ph.D. at Ohio University after a successful career in teaching and market research in India. He moved from Ohio to Southern California in 2009 to take up the position of Director of Institutional Research and Planning at Cypress College. At Ohio, he served as Director of Institutional Research at Zane State College and Budget & Policy Analyst at Ohio University.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay has demonstrated success in the areas of innovative use of technology to improve teaching & learning; partnership development with educational institutions, businesses & industries; bond-funded construction projects; labor negotiations; and fundraising. He has a successful record of advocacy and collaborative work with legislative bodies at the local and state levels. He was involved in leading national initiatives such as “Achieving the Dream” and “Survey of Entering Student Engagement”.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay has a documented record of improving student success, with a particular emphasis on students from underrepresented minorities. Some of his recent accomplishments include serving as the sole representative from Yosemite Community College District to the Executive Committee of Stanislaus 2030 – a collaboration among Government, Civic, and Business Leaders (Stanislaus 2030); improving the scope of experiential learning at MJC in collaboration with Lemelson-MIT- 500 students participated in the first year (Invention Education - Lemelson MIT); increasing enrollment by 13% in Fall 2022 to improve diversity; and establishing DEIA committee at MJC and Columbia College to enhance equity and social justice.

The opportunity to connect with local businesses for sustainable regional economic growth, reimagine the future of education in collaboration with campus constituencies, improve infrastructure to incorporate advanced instructional methodologies using bond funds, engage a diverse community of learners through culturally sensitive curriculum, and increase financial resources via advocacy & innovative fundraising interests Dr. Bandyopadhyay to aspire for the leadership position at Santa Rosa Junior College.


Dr. Angélica Garcia

Dr. Angélica Garcia is an equity-minded educational leader who is passionate about issues of access, equity, and student success in higher education.  For over  23 years, her professional experiences include teaching and administrative roles in higher education, secondary education and non-profit organizations.

Dr. Garcia is known for her inclusive and strategic leadership with a proven record of national, state, and local impact. As President, she successfully led  Berkeley City College through recent accreditation and fiscal stabilization efforts, which secured the college’s re-affirmation and has informed the current work on strengthening participatory governance and the Educational Master Plan.

She believes that community colleges serve as pathways to liberation and upward social mobility for historically minoritized communities and promotes this in institutional reform efforts, such as Guided Pathways, apprenticeship programs, and through community outreach for k-12 students and adult learners.

Dr. Garcia is committed to leading with integrity and promotes building collaborative relationships to create educational institutions that are responsive to the needs of a diverse local community, the needs of workforce and industry, and the requirements for transfer to a four-year institution.

Dr. Garcia earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership at San Francisco State University, a Master’s in Social Work at San Diego State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal and Civic Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California.


Finalists & Forums

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