Recognizing Outstanding Service
President Lloyd A. Holmes has named three recipients for the newly relaunched President's Award for Outstanding Service, which honors members of the campus community who have provided exceptional service to the college and its students. The trio – Dana Kennedy, Brian Malone and Alicia Cortez – were selected from nominations submitted in the categories of faculty member, classified professional and administrator.
"De Anza College is a community built on a shared commitment to our core values and to supporting and advancing our students," Holmes said on reestablishing the award. "This commitment is demonstrated every day, in countless ways. I wanted to revive this award to honor some of that important work by our faculty members, classified professionals and administrators."
The award was created by De Anza's founding president, A. Robert DeHart. Recipients have their names engraved on a plaque in the Administration Building lobby. Beginning this year, recipients will also be recognized in the graduation program and will receive $250 from President Holmes personally, as a token of appreciation for their service.
Dana Kennedy is often the first point of contact for students, instructors or anyone else who needs assistance from the Business, Computer Science and Applied Technologies Division. Co-workers say the divison's senior administrative assistant is an ideal ambassador.
“Dana is always willing to learn new things, take on additional duties, and always think of how we can make things better for the sake of our students,” a nominator wrote. “When a student asks for help, she is on the phone to find out where the student should get help and she will often accompany the student to make sure the student gets the help they need.”
Kennedy came to De Anza in 2015 after working in human resources for the semiconductor industry. She has two bachelor’s degrees – in Spanish and Community Service – from California State University, Chico, and a master’s in social work from San José State.
During her time at De Anza, Kennedy has been active with the Association of Classified Employees (ACE) and the Classified Senate, and also served on the Instructional Planning and Budget Team. She’s been an Equal Employment Opportunity representative or ACE representative on numerous hiring committees.
“I love everything about my job,” she said. “Interacting with and supporting students, faculty and staff tops the list, though. There's nothing more fulfilling to me than giving our students the help they need.”
She added: “I look forward to returning to a full campus again filled with enthusiastic students just starting out in life!”
Brian Malone has taught English at De Anza since 2015, including stints with several Learning Communities. For the last two years, he’s been co-lead of the team that launched De Anza’s new Villages as part of the collegewide Guided Pathways initiative.
Malone and co-lead Anu Khanna coordinated efforts by Village team members to host activities, create Canvas sites and develop strategies for engaging students in the new support communities, based on related majors, that were introduced at Welcome Day in fall 2021. More than 15,000 students are now in Villages.
“Brian has been central in devising programs and events to keep students on the pathway to success through Village communities,” his nominator wrote.
Malone said Guided Pathways is a natural extension of his longtime interest in building a sense of community in the classroom. “The Villages were conceived as a way to bring more of us together, and I was really excited for that,” he added.
As an instructor, Malone encourages students to work collaboratively on writing and reading projects that explore topics such as racism and social justice. “My students work so hard in my classes, and it is always such a thrill to see them realize how much stronger they have become as writers, readers and thinkers.”
Malone earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Literature. He is the college’s tenure review coordinator and is chairing a new LGBTQ+ affinity group currently being formed for faculty and staff members.
Alicia Cortez was named De Anza’s first dean of Equity and Engagement four years ago, but she’s devoted more than three decades to supporting underrepresented students and promoting equity as a counselor, instructor and administrator at De Anza.
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Cortez is a first-generation college student herself.
“I was drawn to educational issues from my own personal experience, living and growing up in East San José and seeing that there weren’t enough resources and not enough outreach there – not like there is today,” she said.
Cortez came to De Anza as a counselor for students from historically underserved populations. Later, she was counselor/coordinator for the Puente Learning Community, where she worked to make students feel included and comfortable in a college environment.
“She has the ability to make people feel valued,” a nominator wrote. “She models cultural sensitivity by taking great efforts to learn people’s backgrounds and situations to understand who they are.”
As dean, Cortez has overseen the revival of the Umoja and IMPACT AAPI Learning Communities and helped launch FLOW, a Learning Community focused on hip-hop culture. She also helped develop the “Equity Plan Re-Imagined” document as a framework for collegewide equity planning.
“What’s driven me as a dean,” Cortez said, “is asking myself: ‘Is what we are doing student-centered?’ How is this going to assist students who are the most marginalized? And how do I assist and support the faculty and staff who work with these populations, so they have the tools they need?’ ”