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Dear donors and supporters,

Happy spring! We are still getting a few showers here and there, but the seasons have changed and with this change comes a few exciting events at the Hartnell College Foundation to benefit our Hartnell students and programs.

First, I am thrilled to announce that the The Board of Trustees has unanimously chosen Michael Gutierrez, currently president of Sacramento City College, to be Hartnell College’s Superintendent/President. He comes with significant experience and also with a lot of heart for students, and I eagerly expect to share his start date with you very soon.

Mr. Gutierrez was one of three finalists who presented their candidacy in front of the community on March 11, 2022. If you would like to see his presentation, go to this YouTube link:, or to read about it, click here:

I want to thank all those who are supporting students through the Women’s Education and Leadership Institute Spring Soirée and Party Near the Library events. We appreciate all your love and look forward to breaking bread together, celebrating, and hearing from students and leaders that inspire.

Be well and see you soon!

Jackie Cruz

Vice President,
Advancement and Development
and Executive Director for the
Hartnell College Foundation

LEADERSHIP AWARD TO LOCAL GIANT John Romans humbled by honor

Before becoming one of the most influential business women in the Central Coast and in the Silicon Valley, Susan Black worked as a flight attendant, for the Department of Defense, in real estate, and in marketing for a bank. All these experiences, she said, prepared her for a successful career in banking.

“Early in my banking career, I was committed to fighting for equal access to credit – now, I am concerned about access to education,” she said. “Personally, education made an enormous difference in opening doors for me, and I feel strongly that education not only changes lives, but also has a significant impact on the community as a whole.”

Susan is the picture of grace and philanthropy. Over 10 years ago, she joined the Hartnell College Foundation with a goal to uplift her community through education.

“I am so impressed with Jackie Cruz and her leadership and phenomenal work leading the Foundation,” she said. “It’s all about the students and the Foundation is committed to the students.”

Susan ended her first seven-year term on the Foundation Board, took a one-year break, and returned for a second term. Her love for Hartnell students was palpable.

“Every time I leave the campus after a meeting, I am so inspired,” she said. “The stories shared by the student speakers at each meeting or program are indeed impressive and touching.”

In addition to her board involvement, Susan is one of the founding members of the Women’s Education and Leadership Institute (WELI) at Hartnell. This is one of the innovative programs supported by the Foundation that has nationally recognized statistics. Each year, 25 young ladies join WELI, receive a scholarship, and are matched with a mentor for one year.

“This work is rewarding,” she said. “I am amazed by everyone’s commitment.”

Black is from Wisconsin, and is the youngest of five girls. Her sense of adventure led her to attend the University of Hawaii for her bachelors and Rochester Business School in New York for her master’s degree.

She founded Pinnacle Bank in 2006 and served as President/CEO from 2008 to 2017. She currently enjoys her role as Chairman of the Board, a title that gives her great flexibility to volunteer. Aside from her commitment to the Foundation board, she serves as Chair for the Rancho Cielo Board of Directors.

Black is married to Aris Angelopoulos and they enjoy their ‘happy place’ in Pebble Beach. They have two grown children and four grandchildren, whom they love to play with. She enjoys gardening, reading, and walking on the beach.

The Hartnell College Foundation feels fortunate to have donors, supporters, and board members like Susan Black, whose leadership and commitment is contributing to the betterment of our community. Her unconditional love for and dedication to Hartnell students is invaluable and transformative. Thank you, Susan!

PLANNED GIVING Understanding your options

The goal of planned giving is to help you plan your estate and charitable giving in a way that benefits you, your family and charity. There are several ways you can make these planned gifts to charity and enjoy tax and income benefits.

If you have questions, please contact Director of Philanthropy, Kristine Edmunds at or call her at (831) 755-6903. We look forward to helping you.

What will your legacy be?

If you are thinking about naming the Hartnell College Foundation in your estate plans, contact our Vice President of Advancement and Development/Executive Director for the Foundation, Jackie Cruz at or call (831) 444-2446 or our Director of Philanthropy, Kristine Edmunds at or by phone at (831) 755-6903. To make a gift in support of Hartnell students, go to:

Dear donors and supporters,

This month, we celebrate Women’s History and take time to reflect on all the contributions of women in history and celebrate the women who are making history today. I am grateful for how I see women continuing to advance opportunities for others and to lift up their communities, which has ripple effects across the globe. As the iconic quote by Ada Lovelace says: “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

This past week I took a moment to appreciate how fortunate we are to have so many community volunteers supporting strong committees here at Hartnell College. Our volunteers give of their time to make us better. They help us get things done. They are committed to championing student success. I feel so much gratitude toward all of our committee members. Know that you are making a far greater difference than you can sometimes see.

I hope to add to the celebration and gratitude in this message to you by sharing inspiration from a Hartnell student’s story, below.   Please take a moment today to read the story of Sonia Baltazar, who has persevered in the midst of challenges with an open mind and a humble spirit.

Be well,

Vice President,
Advancement and Development
and Executive Director for the
Hartnell College Foundation

A STORY OF PERSEVERANCE Sonia Baltazar proves that you can do it all

In the midst of a global pandemic, Sonia Baltazar, 35, of Gonzales enrolled at Hartnell College to pursue her degree in Early Childhood Education. The mother of three girls (12, 9, 6) felt it was the perfect opportunity because of the online and asynchronous class offerings the college afforded her.

“Being out of school for 16 years, I felt, would be difficult,” she said. “But it was so helpful to have the option to complete my assignments in the evenings after everyone was in bed.”

Sonia is part of the MAESTROs Program, a collaboration between Hartnell and CSU Monterey Bay that provides a pathway to a teaching degree and teaching credential. She looks forward to graduating Hartnell this fall and transferring to CSUMB to complete her educational goals.

“I want to teach in middle school and focus on 4th  and 5th graders,” she said. “I feel that is a good age to instill in youth the love of learning and of community.”

Sonia is also a wife, a sports coach, and an instructional aide at Sacred Heart school where her children attend.

Baltazar’s husband is an educator. He is a math teacher and holds a master’s degree in education. They met while at Gonzales High School and have been together ever since.

Over the last few years, while the entire family was on Zoom taking classes or teaching classes, connectivity was sometimes a challenge. But the pandemic brought on additional obstacles to her family.

“My hours were cut due to COVID and we had two medical scares,” she said. ”I found myself having a major surgery alone in a hospital without anyone to visit me…one of my daughters developed appendicitis and that was difficult to deal with as well.”

Sonia and her family stayed optimistic and kept a positive demeanor. Emergency support through Hartnell enabled them to receive the necessary assistance to cover the medical bills, to have food in the house, to cover their rent, and more.

“If it wasn’t for your help and the generosity of donors and supporters, we couldn’t have survived this pandemic,” she said.

Through it all, Sonia has managed to keep her family active with outdoor activities and family time. She said that making the most out of a bad situation is a daily goal for her and her husband.

“You know, I have six eyes looking at me for guidance each day,” she said. “My girls inspire me and I hope I do the same for them and show them that in this world there are opportunities and lots of people who want to help you advance in life.”

In photo – Sonia with her daughter Seleen (12) at Hartnell College Library.

GIVE YOUR IRA A VACATION! We can help you make your IRA work for you

When you use the IRA charitable rollover to support our mission, you have peace of mind. It is like giving yourself a vacation. Last year Congress gave your IRA a much-needed vacation. No one had to make a required minimum distribution from their IRAs. You may be one of those who enjoyed giving your required minimum distribution a year-long break. Everyone loves a vacation, so why not give your RMD another year off?

Make a Required Minimum Distribution Work for You
Last year as part of special legislation, Congress said there would be no RMDs in 2020. This year, the RMD is back for everyone 72 years and older. Most people do not like taking money from their IRA. They have saved for years, and they would prefer to let it grow. Worse yet, when you take the RMD, you pay income tax on that distribution.

The IRA Charitable Rollover Is an Annual Vacation for Your IRA
While you still must distribute money from your IRA if you are 72 or older, you can do it in a tax-advantaged way. If you are age 70 1/2 or older, you can contact your IRA administrator and ask them to make the distribution directly to our mission. When you do:
-You do not pay income tax on the distribution (but you also receive no income tax deduction)
-You receive gift acknowledgment for the full amount of the distribution
-You satisfy your RMD up to $100,000

If you and your spouse have your own IRA, both of you can use the IRA charitable rollover. Contact Director of Philanthropy, Kristine Edmunds at or call (831) 755-6903 for more information and to help guide you through.

What will your legacy be?

If you are thinking about naming the Hartnell College Foundation in your estate plans, contact our Vice President of Advancement and Development/Executive Director for the Foundation, Jackie Cruz at or call (831) 444-2446 or our Director of Philanthropy, Kristine Edmunds at or by phone at (831) 755-6903. To make a gift in support of Hartnell students, go to:

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