Anita’s parents came to this country with big dreams and a very strong work ethic. They understood the value of hard work and made many sacrifices to secure a good education and a brighter future for their two daughters.
Born in Nicaragua at a time of political unrest, Anita came to the United States at the age of 2. Members of her extended family were imprisoned by the government and America offered Anita’s family peace, freedom, and economic opportunity.
Anita’s parents were small business owners in Nicaragua and Anita’s mom was a very talented dress maker. Like other family members who mentored them, they worked in the garment industry. Anita remembers occasionally sleeping on the cutting tables after school while her parents worked late into the night. They ultimately saved enough to launch their own business. Her father took classes in business and accounting at Los Angeles City College to help enhance their new business. Dreams were starting to come true.
Anita’s parents wanted their children to receive a world class education and did everything in their power to send their children to the best schools possible. After graduating high school, Anita attended her dream school – USC – and earned a degree in Business Administration with a double major in Finance and Accounting. Anita wanted to use her education and communication skills to help the family business. Anita contributed to running the business by negotiating contracts for her parents and helped streamline business practices. But her parents encouraged her to pursue her passion and she ultimately landed a high-profile job at Pacific Bell. Soon after, she earned an MBA from Cal Poly Pomona.
She met her beloved husband Leo in college. He served the United States Air Force with distinction and received an honorable discharge. He supported veterans causes his entire life. Anita and Leo spent 43 years together before Leo’s unexpected passing in 2020. They have three amazing daughters: Lauren has a doctoral degree in Behavioral Health; Jessica, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is in her second year of residency; and Ana Bella who just graduated from Georgia Tech with her Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. Anita proudly says that her most rewarding and important role is being a mom.
Anita’s first job out of college was with Pacific Bell, who put her through a rigorous six-month training program in conjunction with the Bell System Training Center to become a Network Design Engineer. She mastered and excelled in engineering and advanced through various positions in Operations, Planning and Major Interdepartmental Project Coordination. The company tapped her to teach engineering to new recruits and that’s when she developed a lesson plan on cutting edge Digital Technology. One of Anita’s career highlights was coordinating the modernization efforts of Pacific Bell’s Madison Central Office – the largest office of its kind in the nation.
Anita continued to excel and was recruited to serve in the External Affairs Department. As Chief of Staff to several Regional Presidents, and subsequently as Executive Director, Anita was instrumental in impacting laws in Sacramento and Washington D.C. that helped extend technology to a greater number of residents. She was instrumental in the early roll-out of U-Verse technology to the City of Glendale. Eventually, she was promoted to the position of Regional Vice President of External Affairs for the Greater Los Angeles region – a position she held until her retirement in 2014.
Recently, she was appointed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger to serve on the Digital Divide Advisory Team, which is working to effectively utilize federal and state dollars to help close the digital divide in Glendale and other areas of Los Angeles County.
After her career at AT&T, Anita joined her husband in the insurance industry. The business is focused on helping businesses optimize their employee benefits package, including insurance services. This experience has broadened her perspective, skills, and appreciation for small business owners.
Anita fell in love with volunteering as a freshman at USC. Upon moving to Glendale in 1987, she found an amazing and vibrant network of organizations that contribute greatly to the community. She highlights the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), as an organization that provided fitness, entertainment, team-building and precious time together as a family. Anita and her husband were coaches, sponsors, team parents and tournament volunteers for twenty-one years. Their daughters grew up playing soccer, surrounded by great friends, caring parents and a community of cheerleaders.
With deep roots in the community, Anita has served in many prominent roles, including Chairwoman of the Board of Glendale Memorial Hospital and the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. Anita served on the Executive Boards of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce and the YWCA of Glendale and Los Angeles. Mayor Paula Devine appointed her to the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee where she serves as Vice Chair of the committee. She continues to serve our community on the Glendale Community College Hispanic Serving Institution Advisory Board, the Glendale Unified School District’s Adelante Latinos Committee, and on the Advisory Boards of HOPE, Glendale Latino Association and Cal State LA’s Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs. Anita is an advocate for clean air and serves on the Board of Breathe Southern California and is the Advocacy Committee Chair. She is honored to be serving a second term as Chair of the Board of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation. She also served as a commissioner on the Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board and is a proud member and supporter of the Armenian Educational Foundation.
Supporting accessible quality education and workforce readiness is one of Anita’s passions and that is why she truly enjoyed serving as a trustee for Glendale Community College for 15 years including three terms as President of the Board. Firmly believing that education is the cornerstone of success, Anita dedicated herself to GCC’s mission of ensuring student learning and success which contributes to our community’s economic growth and vitality. She was appointed to the Board in 2002, and on four subsequent occasions, was re-elected.
Anita was a supporter of Measure G, a $98 million facilities bond measure which was successfully passed by the voters of Glendale. Measure G funding allowed GCC to make progress and solve significant challenges. As the college began to make plans to utilize the bond funding, the Board of Trustees adopted a policy to strive for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in our buildings. One of the challenges solved was parking – GCC built a new parking structure with 1,185 spaces and installed photovoltaic panels on the roof. Other significant investments included the Science Center, the Allied Health building, the Garfield campus, updating the Athletic Facilities and significant technology upgrades. Anita also supported and helped approve a new Facilities Master Plan that created a vision and guide for the capital improvement needs of the college in the long term. One of the biggest changes and challenges over those 15 years was the retirement and replacement of the college’s longstanding and beloved Superintendent/President Dr. Davitt. After a challenging period, Anita celebrates the decision she and her Board colleagues made in hiring Dr David Viar.
Community colleges are evaluated on a yearly basis by the State Chancellor’s office and GCC’s ranking in transfer rates, graduation rates and other student success measurements were always among the highest. In 2017, GCC was ranked # 7 in the nation among all higher educational institutions based on the upward mobility of its students. That same year, GCC received full WASC accreditation and a review that praised governance at the college.
Anita believes in giving back and one of her life’s principles is to leave a place better than she found it. For 33 years, Glendale has been home to Anita and her family. It is a beautiful city where she and her husband raised three amazing young women. She loves her community and is ready and able to work with and for all residents to solve the difficult decisions that lay ahead and to ensure that Glendale continues to be a premier city.