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Portrait of Sonya Christian

Sonya Christian


California Community Colleges

Dr. Sonya Christian is chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the first woman to be appointed to this role. Previously, she served as chancellor of the Kern Community College District; she led Kern CCD to prepare the workforce of tomorrow for careers in emerging energy and climate technologies, with an insistent focus on equity by building community resilience and empowerment. She began her three-decade career in education at Kern CCD in 1991, first as a mathematics professor and later as division chair, then dean of science, engineering, allied health, and mathematics at Bakersfield College. In 2003, she joined Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, as associate vice president for instruction, then vice president of academic and student affairs and chief academic officer. She returned to Bakersfield College in 2013 as president. In all of her roles, she has always been deeply committed to equity, which she has demonstrated through her work in the areas of Guided Pathways and Early College. Since 2015, she has served with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, including as chair from 2020–2022. As well as being a member of the PPIC Higher Education Center Advisory Council, she currently serves on the boards for the Campaign for College Opportunity, the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, the Equity in Policy Implementation Advisory Board, and is the chair of the California Community Colleges Women’s Caucus. She earned her BS degree from University of Kerala in India, her MS in applied mathematics from the University of Southern California, and her doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles.