Bechtel, Swenson to lead Foothill-De Anza board

The Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously selected Betsy Bechtel as president and Bruce Swenson as vice president. The election occurred at the board’s annual organizational meeting Dec. 10.

District voters re-elected Bechtel to a third term Nov. 6, and this will be her third time as board president – she led trustees in 2005 and 2009. She has served as chairwoman of the district’s Audit and Finance Committee, an advisory group comprising two trustees and four volunteer members of the public with fiscal expertise, and headed the district’s 2006 Measure C bond campaign and 2010 parcel tax election. She succeeds Joan Barram as board president.

A Palo Alto City Council member for nine years, Betchel served a term as Palo Alto’s mayor before her election to the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees in 2003. In addition to volunteering for six years as a board member of the Foothill-De Anza Foundation, her community service has included leadership positions in the League of Women Voters, the Palo Alto Rotary Club, YMCA of the Midpeninsula, the Los Altos and Palo Alto Chambers of Commerce and the Committee for Green Foothills. She is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University, Bechtel joined the Peace Corps, then taught school in San Jose upon returning home. She continued in public service as a staff member for then-Santa Clara County Supervisor Gerry Steinberg. Bechtel subsequently entered the banking field, where she held positions for many years as vice president of Citibank and J.P. Morgan.

Bechtel expressed her thanks and noted how the approval of Proposition 30 last month – which levies temporary taxes to fund education – will help the district.

“I am honored to serve the district and my colleagues as president, and grateful to the voters for approving Proposition 30 last month,” Bechtel said. “While we still face financial challenges from three years of budget cuts, Proposition 30 allows our colleges to increase the number of classes they offer. I encourage community members to learn more about the opportunities available through the district and to take advantage of the tremendous resources of Foothill and De Anza colleges.”

Swenson is a former longtime Foothill College mathematics instructor who also served as dean of the Division of Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering and vice president of instruction and educational resources at Foothill. He was elected to the board in 2005 and is serving his second term.

Bechtel made the following appointments for the coming year: Trustees Laura Casas Frier and Swenson to the Audit and Finance Committee, with Swenson acting as chairman; and Trustees Pearl Cheng and Barram to the Foothill-De Anza Foundation Board of Directors.

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