A professor and public policy professional, Joanna is a lifelong resident of the Montebello Unified School District and a proud product of local schools.
As a professor of political science at Montebello Unified partner East Los Angeles College, Joanna works to help our local students achieve their dreams of higher education and meaningful careers. Understanding the unique and critical role community colleges play, as the single largest source of college degrees in California, she has devoted her energy to mentoring students and helping them to navigate school, home, and career. She has first-hand knowledge of the challenges teachers face every day in the classroom, and how critical it is that they have the resources they need to educate our children.
Before she became a professor, Joanna served as admissions and financial aid counselor for high school and college students. This experience inspired her approach to student success and her belief that their achievement depends on teachers, school employees, and parents working together. As a result, she developed SEAgoes2college, a grassroots initiative to help Southeast Los Angeles County residents achieve access to higher education.
Active in her local community, Joanna serves as a member of the Commerce Measure AA Advisory Committee. When the City of Commerce declared a state of fiscal emergency and passed the Measure AA bond, Joanna stepped forward to serve her neighbors. As a member of the advisory committee, she has been integral to maintaining fiscal responsibility, protecting taxpayers, and investing bond funds wisely. In addition, Joanna is a past member of the Commerce Community Services Commission.The daughter of immigrant parents from El Salvador and Mexico, Joanna is the first of eight siblings to graduate from college, and complete higher education. Joanna graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish Literature, and later earned Master’s degrees in Public Policy and Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania.
She is currently pursuing a Ph.D in education from USC. Joanna lives with her husband in the City of Commerce.