Katie Villegas

Katie Villegas

Katie Villegas was a student at three of the Los Rios Community College District’s four campuses.

She attended Sacramento City, Cosumnes River, and American River colleges before she transferred to California State University, Sacramento where she earned a master’s degree in social work.

“I love community colleges, it’s been a part of my life and I want to be a part of the organization that gave me so much,” the Sacramento native said.

Villegas is among three candidates running for the vacant Trustee Area 4 seat on the Los Rios Community College District board. Her opponents are David Sandino and Kelly Wilkerson. Ruth Scribner left her Area 4 trustee position last year after serving for 16 years.

The board’s Trustee Area 4 covers the Los Rios district’s western side, and includes Davis, West Sacramento, and Elk Grove west of Highway 99.

Villegas is now the executive director of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit that supports foster and homeless children as well as new parents. She said their services include weekly food distribution, workforce training, and parenting classes.

The director said she started as the nonprofit’s lone employee 15 years ago when they had a $30,000 budget. She said they now have 50 employees and a $4.5 million fund.

Villegas cited her experience with the alliance to show that she knows how to manage budgets and grow an organization. She added that her group is one of Yolo County’s largest nonprofits.

“I have the temperament and the ability to listen to folks and make tough decisions,” Villegas said. “I’m strongly supported by people who know what I can do and have done for the past 35 years.”

During her interview, she noted that she held more than 10 campaign fundraisers and regularly holds online campaign events.

“It’s been a really weird time to run a campaign,” Villegas said.

In her campaign, she is focusing on bringing more dual enrollment opportunities to high school students, which would enable them to take college classes and gain college credits by the time they graduate from high school.

“You can get kids in high school and it’ll make a difference when they can have someone giving them a leg up,” the candidate said.

Villegas is also campaigning to close the district’s “digital divide” of students who lack computers and Internet connections to access their online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that the Los Rios district already distributed 12,000 Chromebook computers and 4,000 coupons for Internet access.

Villegas also emphasized the vitality of community colleges during dire economic times.  

“The community college will be one of the things that will help us survive the COVID experience,” she said. “Many people lost their jobs – keeping education affordable is the key to our success I see coming out of the COVID pandemic.”