Cuyamaca staffer wins statewide Classified Employee of the Year award


katie cabral

A Cuyamaca College Research and Planning analyst and president of the campus’ Classified Senate will be honored Monday by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors in Sacramento with this year’s statewide Classified Employee of the Year award.

Katie Cabral is one of just seven classified, or non-instructional, staff members throughout California to be recognized for demonstrating the highest level of commitment to the mission of the state’s community colleges.

“Since she began her work in research and planning with the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in 2016, Katie has stood out as an exceptionally talented and dedicated classified professional,” said Chancellor Lynn Neault. “It was only after working for one year for our district that she received our local equivalent award for classified professionals. I am thrilled to see her now receive statewide recognition for her trademark commitment and excellence.”

Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Board President Debbie Justeson said she and her fellow trustees were quick to endorse Cabral’s nomination for the award, particularly for her focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and her work with faculty, providing data to support equity-minded teaching and learning practices.

“Our district is keenly focused on providing an excellent education to all students and addressing equity issues,” Justeson said. “To do this, classified professionals with Katie’s knowledge and ability to explain data in a way that’s palatable and easy to understand are indispensable.”

Cuyamaca College has received state and national recognition for its equity-driven initiatives leading to remarkable surges in students succeeding in transfer-level math and English courses. Cabral has been described as an innovator, developing creative ways to present the data behind Cuyamaca’s successful efforts at closing achievement gaps.

Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes will join Cabral on a trip to Sacramento next week to accept the award. Barnes added that Cabral’s stepping forward in 2021 as president of Cuyamaca’s Classified Senate – an employee participatory governance group -- came at a pivotal time as the campus adjusted to pandemic realities. Despite all the challenges this presented, Barnes said Cabral has done a stellar job bringing staff together to tackle often difficult concerns.

“She has fostered communication, collaboration, and advocacy among classified professionals in a way that’s nothing short of remarkable,” Barnes said. “She is exceedingly bright, warm and approachable, and greatly admired by everyone. Under her leadership, classified professionals have been empowered to share their knowledge, perspective, and expertise to improve the student experience.”

Cabral’s connection with the college district started in 2014, when she began working as a part-time psychology instructor at Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges. She put her teaching position at the East County campuses and other area community colleges on hold after she was hired two years later as an analyst for the district’s Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness office.

Cabral has proven herself to be a consummate team player, said Brianna Hays, Senior Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Success, and Equity at Cuyamaca College.

“From the moment Katie started at Cuyamaca, she changed the face of research for the campus,” Hays said. “Her presence and positive attitude have a tremendous impact on our office climate, work, and productivity.”

The Bay Area native moved to San Diego to attend the University of California, San Diego, where she earned her bachelor’s in psychology. She earned her master’s degree in social psychology and evaluation at Claremont Graduate University, and later returned to UCSD as a mental health programs evaluator and researcher.

“I am beyond humbled to be recognized,” said Cabral, who will receive a $750 cash award and a commemorative plaque. “I am so grateful and proud to work alongside so many amazing classified professionals at Cuyamaca College and throughout the California Community College system. Classified professionals are such a dedicated and passionate group who work tirelessly to advance the mission of our open-access institutions, and ensure students feel welcome, validated, and supported.”


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