Board Member Profiles
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PATRICK J. AHRENS, President
Ahrens was elected to the Board of Trustees in November 2018. He is a Sunnyvale resident and Silicon Valley native who has advocated to expand access and affordability for community college students as an education policy advisor and district director for Assembly member Evan Low in California Assembly District 28. An active community volunteer, he served on the board of directors of the Foothill-De Anza Foundation prior to his election. Ahrens became deeply interested in higher education policy as a student at De Anza College when he was elected to serve as student trustee on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District's governing board. He holds an associate degree from De Anza College, a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is currently a candidate for a master of public administration degree from San Jose State University. After graduating from UCLA, he worked in Washington, D.C., for U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn of California. His term on the board expires in 2022. Contact Ahrens at email@example.com or through the Chancellor's Office at (650) 949-6100.
LAURA CASAS, Vice President
Casas was elected to the Board of Trustees without opposition in 2007 after being appointed to the board in 2005, and was re-elected in 2012, 2016, and 2020. She holds a law degree from Santa Clara University, and a bachelor's degree in political science from California State University, Northridge. Active at the state and local levels, Casas was elected by her peers in 2011 to the statewide Trustees Board of the Community College League of California, and is past chair of the League's Advisory Committee on Legislation. She is a graduate of the HOPE Leadership Institute operated by Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, and serves on the boards of Children Now, a national organization that makes children a public policy priority, and ALearn, a grassroots organization dedicated to underrepresented students' success in college. For the past decade she's mentored students through Puente, an academic preparation program focused on college success. Her past activities include the Foothill-De Anza Foundation Board of Directors, Santa Clara County's 6th District PTA, and the Santa Clara County League of Women Voters' Education Committee. She co-founded a transitional home for domestic violence victims in Los Angeles and has worked as a claims representative for an international commercial liability carrier. Her term expires in 2024. Contact Casas at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Chancellor's Office at (650) 949-6100.
Cheng was appointed in 2008 to fill a vacancy on the Board of Trustees and was elected without opposition in 2009 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. Cheng is a resident of Cupertino who served for eight years on the Cupertino Union School District Board of Education and held leadership positions with the Santa Clara County School Boards Association. She has served on the De Anza Commission, an auxiliary of the Foothill-De Anza Foundation that represents De Anza College in the community. She worked for many years at the NASA Ames Research Center, most recently as associate director for management operations in information sciences and technology. Following her high-tech experience, she worked for a decade in non-profits, serving as the education manager at United Way Silicon Valley developing literacy, intervention and parent education programs in Santa Clara County. In March 2016, she was an invited participant at the College Promise Initiative planning meeting at the White House. Cheng has served for a number of years as a substitute teacher in two local public school districts. She volunteered as a contact tracer and case investigator for the county during the height of the pandemic. Cheng holds a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor's in engineering from the University of Iowa. Her term expires in 2022. Contact Cheng at email@example.com or through the Chancellor's Office at (650) 949-6100.
Landsberger was elected to the Board of Trustees in November 2016 and re-elected in 2020. He has lived in Los Altos since 1978, the year he was named the Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s first general counsel. He subsequently served as district vice chancellor before becoming an instructor and then dean of business and computer science at De Anza College. Now retired, his 30-year career in community colleges includes service as president of the College of San Mateo, senior vice chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District, and interim chancellor of the Los Angeles district. The chancellor of the California Community Colleges later appointed him special trustee of the Compton Community College District after Compton College lost its accreditation, a position he held for four years. He serves on the boards of the Foothill-De Anza Foundation, the Community School of Music & Arts in Mountain View, and UNITE–LA, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that leads collaborations aimed at developing highly effective schools, promotes business-education partnerships, and expands college access and workforce development opportunities for under-served youth. He holds a doctor of law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley, and an associate degree in political science from Santa Monica College. His term expires in 2024. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Chancellor's Office at (650) 949-6100.
Wong was elected to the Board of Trustees in November 2016 and re-elected in 2020. He served for nine years on the Cupertino City Council, twice holding the positions of mayor and vice mayor. After earning an associate degree at West Valley College and a bachelor’s degree at San Jose State University, he began working in his family real estate investment and property management business. He served for three years as a volunteer on the De Anza Commission, an auxiliary of the Foothill-De Anza Foundation that represents De Anza College in the community. His extensive community experience includes leadership positions in the Rotary Club of Cupertino, Cupertino Chamber of Commence, Cupertino Educational Endowment Foundation, Asian American Parent Association, Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute, and the Organization of Chinese Americans Silicon Valley chapter. He completed the certificate program for senior executives in state and local government offered by the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. His term expires in 2024. Contact Wong at email@example.com or through the Chancellor's Office at (650) 949-6100.
Pierce Tao, De Anza College
Tao is the elected De Anza College student trustee for the 2022-2023 academic year. He is a second year student and is currently undecided on his major. Tao is involved with the De Anza Associated Student Government, sitting on the Equity and Diversity and the Marketing and Communications committees. As an individual who strives to best represent the student body and provide the best experience possible at De Anza, Tao intends to listen to the needs and concerns of different communities and people of different backgrounds. As De Anza’s student trustee, Tao will back the needs of and support students on a districtwide level. Contact Tao at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Chancellor's Office at (650) 949-6100.
Chamu Palaniappan, Foothill College
Palaniappan is Foothill College’s elected student representative to the Board of Trustees for 2022-2023. She is majoring in political science and economics and works as a research assistant at Stanford University; a volunteer with Reclaim our Vote, an organization that works to combat voter suppression; and an intern with San Jose City Councilman Matt Mahan. On campus, Palaniappan serves as an officer of Fund the Future, a club focused on educational equity and community enrichment, and the Associated Students of Foothill College. She is passionate about social justice and political engagement and works to enact legitimate change. Students come first, and she’ll advocate for openness and communication. Palaniappan will strive to do her best for the students on a district and college level — allowing students to be accepted, thrive, and be successful. As student trustee, She will ensure Foothill students are understood and they, along with Foothill, are able to reach their full potential and goals. Contact Palaniappan at email@example.com or through the Chancellor's Office at (650) 949-6100.