Lee Lambert Named Next Foothill-De Anza Chancellor
Visionary leader’s values align with district’s student success mission
The Board of Trustees has announced the selection of Lee Lambert as Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s eighth permanent chancellor since the district's founding in 1957. Lambert, currently chancellor of Pima Community College in Arizona, will start in his new role Aug. 1.
“Lee Lambert is a transformative leader with an impressive record of accomplishments,” said Board of Trustees President Patrick Ahrens. “We are confident that he is the right person to build on Foothill-De Anza’s legacy of educational excellence and excited to have him lead our exceptional team into a new era of equity and innovation.”
The district’s governing board is expected to formally approve Lambert’s contract at its regular meeting of June 12.
“I am honored to have been selected by the Board of Trustees to be the next chancellor,” said Lambert. “The district's commitment to student success and educational excellence driven by an equity agenda and guided by a set of core values rooted in integrity, inclusion, care for students' well-being, and sustainability aligns with my personal and professional values.”
Lambert has more than two decades of experience in community colleges at the senior executive level and has led Pima Community College, which serves more than 30,000 credit and non-credit students at five campuses and four centers located throughout greater Tucson, since 2013.
“I am so grateful to know that I am leaving Foothill-De Anza in good hands,” said Chancellor Judy C. Miner, who is retiring after 35 years with the district and eight years as its top executive. “Under Lee Lambert’s leadership, Pima Community College emerged from accreditation and
financial challenges to national recognition for its innovative workforce education programs and partnerships. His demonstrated skill at collaborating with campus and community partners to
focus on the needs of students will serve him well here. His diverse lived experiences have shaped him into a person of great emotional intelligence: he is a U.S. Army veteran, an educator devoted to equitable access and completion, and an administrator well versed in the complexities of community college operations. Students, employees, and community members will find in him a champion who leads with head and heart.”
Lambert will work closely with Chancellor Miner prior to her Sept. 5 retirement to ensure a smooth transition.
While at Pima, Lambert launched a nationally recognized Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training program, led the development of the college’s Centers of Excellence in applied technology, health care, hospitality, information technology and cybersecurity, public safety, and the arts, and worked with the Pima Foundation to secure a $5 million gift, the single largest in the college’s history. He also established fast track programs to train learners for in-demand jobs, invested heavily in Pima Online and embedded robust diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives throughout the college’s campuses and centers.
Prior to leading Pima, Lambert served nearly eight years as the president of Shoreline Community College in Washington, helping to restore the college’s financial stability, overseeing the development of the state’s first solar design degree and National Institute of Metalworking Skills accredited computer numerical control machinist programs, and turning the college into a national leader in offering 100 percent online degrees and certificates in business and health care programs.
Lambert’s personal story and early career path provide him with a deep understanding and respect for community college students and employees.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Lambert grew up on three continents. His late father, who was of mixed African American heritage, and his mother, who is South Korean, were frequent targets of racism and discrimination in South Korea and the U.S. He was the first in his multiracial family to attend college right out of high school but felt unsure that he belonged, a fear common to many first generation community college students. He stopped out of college after a year to enlist in the U.S. Army, but following his military service, reenrolled in college and successfully earned a degree.
Before assuming leadership of Shoreline, Lambert served as its vice president for human resources and legal affairs, a position secured after serving close to five years in successively responsible roles in human resources at Centralia College in Washington where he negotiated contracts, developed management training programs, and advocated for diversity and inclusion in hiring practices.
His first senior executive position in higher education was special assistant to the president for civil rights and legal affairs at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he wasresponsible for diversity training, conducting investigations, and building a culture of respect for the diverse academic, socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds, disabilities, and sexual orientations of students, faculty and staff.
Lambert holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from The Evergreen State College and a juris doctor from Seattle University. He has taught as an adjunct faculty member at The Evergreen State College and Centralia College.
Besides his professional experience, Lambert has taken on leadership roles on local, state and national boards and committees, including Credential Engine, National Association of Workforce Boards, National Coalition of Certification Centers, Arizona Chamber of Commerce, and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.
Lambert has also been the recipient of many awards during his years of community college service. Recent recognition includes the Greater Tucson Leadership 2022 Man of the Year Award, the Chairs Academy 2022 Paul A. Elsner Excellence in Leadership Award, the Association of Community College Trustees 2017 Marie Y. Martin CEO of the Year Award, and Honorary Commander for the 612th Air Communications Squadron of Davis-Monthan Airforce Base.
Lambert's salary will be $448,047.12 per year, and his contract will run through June of 2024. The chancellor's salary was set after extensive research into community college executive salaries in comparably sized districts in the Bay Area.
A search committee made up of governing board, community, faculty, administrative, classified employee and student representatives recommended four finalists who took part in open forums in early May. Between 190 and 240 people participated in the forums each day in person and via online webinar. Video recordings made available for those unable to attend the forums were each viewed approximately 200 times. Many of those who watched or participated in the forums offered written comments about the candidates to trustees.