|Dr. David M. Johnson
Dr. David M. Johnson was named President of Merritt College in June 2020. Prior to this role, he served as Acting President, having started at Merritt as Vice President of Instruction in January 2019. He comes to Merritt from Las Positas College in Livermore, CA, where he served as Interim Vice President of Academic Services. In that position, he was responsible for enrollment management, academic compliance, budget supervision, and overall instructional support for 120 degree, transfer, and certificate programs. He also worked closely with the faculty, staff, and administration to ensure institutional compliance with accreditation standards and state initiatives. Click here for full bio
|Dr. Lilia Chavez
Vice President of Student Services
Dr. Lilia Chavez is Merritt’s Vice President of Student Services as of December 2019. She joined the college in 2014 as the Director of Student Activities & Campus Life. She is a Chicana/Latina, Social and Spiritual Activist/Educator who seizes each opportunity to work with underrepresented, underprepared, and underserved communities. She has an extensive teaching and professional record. Dr. Chavez has worked as an educator, counselor, consultant, administrator, cultural broker, and spiritual guide. Click here for full bio
|Dr. Denise Richardson
Vice President of Instruction
Dr. Denise Richardson is an experienced community college educator dedicated to maximizing student success and improving institutional effectiveness in support of the diverse and extraordinary students served by the Peralta Community College District (PCCD). Denise was hired as the Vice President of Instruction at Merritt College in January 2021, after serving as the Acting Vice President of Instruction from March 2020 to December 2020. Before coming to Merritt Denise was the Dean of Math and Sciences at Laney College between August 2013 and February 2020. Prior to moving into administration Denise taught Political Science for twelve years and held key faculty leadership positions, including Social Sciences Department Chair, Tenure Review Facilitator, and Faculty Senate President. Click here for full bio
|Jason Holloway, M.S.
Dean of Mathematics, Science, and Applied Technology (Division II)
As a Bay Area resident since 2000, Jason Holloway began his educational career as a Math instructor after receiving an MS in Applied Mathematics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. He has always been dedicated to student success and persisted to make the math discipline accessible for all students. In 2017, Jason transitioned to administration and became the Dean of Math, Science, and Applied Technology at Merritt College. Click here for a full bio.
|Dr. Chriss Foster
Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (Division I)
Chriss Warren Foster, PhD., was named Interim Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences in December 2019. She previously served as a professor of English, Rhetoric, and Psychology, holds the following degrees: Master of Arts degrees –English literature with Rhetoric and Composition emphases; Counseling Psychology with completion of practicum for Marriage and Family Therapist licensing; and, Education. She also holds two Doctoral degrees: Educational Leadership and Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology with an emphasis in Phenomenology, and a certificate in Rhetoric and Composition and Teaching Reading at the Post Secondary Level. Click here for a full bio.
Dean of Allied Health and Public Safety (Division III)
Raised in Silicon Valley, Marie is incredibly passionate about improving educational access and opportunities for our most underserved and underrepresented students through the development or sustainability of programs, partnerships, and new policies that foster student equity. She works collaboratively with both faculty and industry partners to promote the development of innovative new Career Education programs that respond to the evolving needs of the workforce and further increase opportunities for student success. Click here for full bio
Director of Financial Aid Services
Ernesto received a Bachelor’s in Sociology from California State, Los Angeles, and brings 18 years of experience in student affairs, and 15 years of knowledge and background working in financial aid. Ernesto’s wealth of financial aid experience comes from various California community colleges working as a Financial Aid Specialist, Financial Aid Advisor, and as a Financial Aid Analyst. Most recently, he worked for Pasadena City College as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid, and the Director of Financial Aid at San Bernardino Valley College. Previously, Ernesto was the Financial Aid Supervisor for Merritt College and he is thrilled to be returning to Merritt. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his four furry babies Cy, Lebron, Curry, and Kobe.
Director of Student Activities and Campus Life
Effective March 2, 2020, Doris Hankins began her new role as Director of Student Activities and Campus Life. She is a Merritt College alumnus and served as the Phi Theta Kappa (Beta Theta Lamda Chapter) President for 3 years (2001-2003) and was awarded the All USA Award (2002). In addition, she has worked at Merritt College for almost 20 years. Her positions at Merritt have included being a Sr. Clerical Assistant to the President; a Staff Assistant to the Vice President of Instruction; an Interim Curriculum Specialist; an Interim Program Manager for CAFYES (Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support); an Employment Services Manager; a Program Manager for Basic Skills Student Outcomes and Transformation (BSSOT); a Project Manager for Guided Pathways; and Program Manager for Next Up (formally CAFYES). Click here for full bio
Director of Research and Planning
Nathan Pellegrin was named Director of Research and Planning in January 2020. He is committed to enabling cycles of inquiry that reach across the campus community to bring together faculty, students, and staff. Prior to joining Merritt, he worked with community colleges in the region on supporting organization change, including student equity planning, evaluation of in-class student supports, student-centered scheduling, and students right to transfer-level classes in math and English (AB 705), and served as Director of Institutional Research for the Peralta Community College District from 2014 to 2016. de. Click here for full bio
|Dr. Lisa S. Webb
Dean of Counseling
Dr. Webb is from Chicago, IL. Lisa received her BA from Wheaton College, her master’s degree from Harvard University, and her doctorate from the University of San Francisco with a concentration in International and Multicultural Education.
Dean of Enrollment Management
Ree’shemah Thornton joined Merritt College in April 2021 in the inaugural role of the Dean of Enrollment Services.
Ree’shemah is professionally and personally committed to providing students with authentic access to higher education and has over 27 years of professional experience in higher education and administering programs providing educational and support services to first-generation student populations.
She comes to Merritt College most recently from Holy Names University, where she was the Assistant Vice President for Admissions and Student Recruitment. Prior to that, Ree’shemah was the Interim Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management at San Francisco State University, where she provided leadership for the enrollment management units including Undergraduate Admissions, Student Outreach Services, Registrar’s Office, Student Financial Aid, Educational Opportunity Program, and Enrollment Management Technology. She has also served in various capacities at the University of California, Office of the President, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Alan Hancock Community College.
Her educational background includes an earned Master of Arts in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Human Development, from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Education, and a Bachelor of Arts in both Law and Society and Black Studies, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Both proud Oakland natives, Ree’shemah and her husband have the privilege of raising their children here as well. In addition to spending her weekends cheering on her children’s basketball, softball, and baseball games, she has recently found a passion for taking pictures of sunsets.
Dean Thornton’s commitment and dedication to first-generation students and families, her ability to nurture innovation, and a willingness to “roll up her sleeves” to get the job done are what led her to Merritt College.
Vice President of Academic Services
Hello, my name is Garth Kwiecien and I am a native Californian. I have attended school locally (Acalanes High, Diablo Valley College, Cal Poly, and Golden Gate University) My work experience in higher ed. includes working for: Nevada System of Higher Ed (NSHE), Prospect Education, UC Sant Cruz, CSU Dominguez Hills, and San Francisco Community College District, locally known as City College. In which I was their Senior Director of Administrative Services. Therefore, I have over 35 years of finance, budget, procurement, construction, operations experience and I look forward to putting my skills to work at my new position at Merritt.