May Good News at TMCC

Rebecca A. Eckland
good news at tmcc

From top left: Faculty Senate Chair-Elect YeVonne Allen, Paralegal Instructor Henry Sotelo and Adult Basic Education Program Director Cynthia Pierrott.

YeVonne Allen, First Administrative Faculty Elected as Faculty Senate Chair-Elect

YeVonne Allen, who has worked as the Program Manager of the Equity, Inclusion and Sustainability Office for the past five years, will be the first administrative faculty to serve as the TMCC Faculty Senate Chair-Elect (and, in 2020, as Faculty Senate Chair). Allen’s long experience in creating inclusive environments for students, faculty, and staff will support the Faculty Senate’s stated purpose to foster faculty participation in the creation and evaluation of the college’s policies and goals. Having an administrative faculty hold a leadership position, which has until now only been held by academic faculty, is yet another indication of TMCC’s cohesive campus community.

“I envision my professional relationship in this role to be one of mutual understanding, respect, and empathy. I believe in the concept of the diversity of thought, and I strive to bring people together,” said Allen who is currently serving her second term as an at-large Senator. Allen has also served as a member of several committees, including committees for Administrative Faculty, Diversity, Sustainability Champions, Friends and Allies of LGBTQ and ADA in addition to serving on the President’s Cabinet, the Planning Council and as a task force member for various college initiatives.

The election results for the Faculty Senate will take effect on July 1, 2019, placing Math Professor Anne Flesher in her official role of Faculty Senate Chair, Allen as Faculty Senate Chair-Elect and Construction Technologies Professor Mike Holmes as Past Chair (an ex-officio and non-voting member of the Senate.) “My goal is to support the chair because we are really a Leadership Unit, and I truly believe that we are ‘In It Together’ at TMCC,” she said. Yet, Allen is also looking forward to what she sees as her particular leadership challenges when she assumes the position of Faculty Senate Chair on July 1, 2020.

“I look forward to being a voice and messenger of the Faculty Senate. Prospective new Nevada legislation, NSHE policies, and TMCC contracts will share which topics will come to significance over the next two years and I will do my part in representing the voices of the Faculty Senate.” As administrative faculty, Allen has a unique perspective and history working closely with both administrative and academic faculty that will enable her to address the needs of faculty and staff, enabling the institution to meet its mission and vision.

Cynthia Pierrott Awarded the Mountain Plains Adult Education Association Award

Recently, TMCC’s Program Director of Adult Basic Education Program Cynthia Pierrott received the Mountain Plains Adult Education Association (MPAEA) Award of Excellence for the State of Nevada. The MPAEA’s mission is to support lifelong learning by providing professional development opportunities for adult educators by publishing and distributing information on lifelong learning that supports and strengthens member associations within the nine states in the region.

Dean Amy Williams nominated Pierrott for the award because “...she has placed a great deal of emphasis on professional development so that her team of instructors, tutors, and staff are able to serve ABE students more effectively. She has brought in guest speakers to address sensitive issues like implicit bias and emotional intelligence and has provided training on what it means to be a trauma-informed program.”

Pierrott has worked in the Adult Education field for her entire career. She started at Western Nevada College, and then the College of Southern Nevada before coming to TMCC over five years ago. In addition to training staff on best practices to make the Adult Basic Education program trauma-informed, she is also expanding the ABE program by reaching out to local businesses and providing on-site services, evidenced by new course offerings onsite at Tesla, High Quality Organics, SK Food Groups, Peppermill, and Q&D Construction. “We are working with employers to meet the English language needs of their employees, and that can help foster effective communication skills in the workplace,” said Pierrott.

Helping to overcome substantial barriers is the cornerstone of the Adult Basic Education program. “Sometimes, the ABE/HSE population doesn’t have a high school diploma. That can make it difficult for them to get Financial Aid,” said Pierrott. “Or many employers require a high school equivalency exam or diploma even for an entry-level position. The program helps them to overcome that barrier.”

The ABE program also works closely with English Language Learners, both in the community and within other TMCC academic programs. “English Language Learners are usually highly educated in their own countries and fields, they just lack the communication skills in English that enable them to interview for the job, or to communicate with peers or supervisors,” said Pierrott. Recently, she has initiated several ELL programs based on the I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education Skills and Training) model for assisting students and skilled workers in the community in reaching their academic and professional goals.

Currently, ABE is working with the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program using the I-BEST model and is looking to expand those services to those in the Hospitality and Tourism program as well. “We can help individuals who are currently in the hospitality industry and who want to be in higher management positions by assisting them with the language, while they earn their AA and Bachelor’s degrees,” she said.

“Pierrott is a transformational leader,” said Williams. “She provides encouragement for her staff to grow and evolve into their best professional and personal selves. She is also willing to help with any registration and any student issue at any time. Her commitment to students’ well-being drives her decisions as she continues to accommodate their schedules, complex lives, and needs.”

Henry Sotelo to serve as a City of Reno Hearing Officer

Everyone has a right to fair notice and consistent access to due process through our legal and judicial systems. TMCC Paralegal Instructor Henry Sotelo joins Robert Bell and Jill Greiner in a two-year contract position as a City of Reno Hearing Officer that will enable him, as of July 1, to address the “other” side of the law.

While most people are more familiar with criminal law—with its frequent exposure in the media through shows like the various iterations of Law & Order, among many others—our daily interactions with the law typically don’t occur in a criminal setting. Instead, we interact in civil law: the territory of parking tickets, code violations, land development and other issues related to city codes and ordinances.

Counter to civil law is criminal law, those infractions which may send a person to jail. But the civil side of the law is also the largest side, used for noncriminal sanctions such as fines, to be used against individuals who are cited for non-criminal violations.

And, if there was ever that parking ticket you didn’t agree with—well, what do you do? “People need to have access to the court in order to address an exception and when they want someone to hear the other side of their case,” said Sotelo. “The hearing officer...is a quasi-judicial position that enables an individual to voice their side of the case in court, and is an essential part of due process in civil law.”

This is the job of the City of Reno Hearing Officer: to hear cases where an individual believes the sanctions against them are unwarranted due to the circumstances of the moment. This could be an argument against a parking ticket issued at the hospital where you had given a ride to a family member or friend in need of immediate medical attention. The possibilities are endless: Sotelo, along with the other two Hearing Officers for the City, offer universal access to the due process of law because, let’s face it, even in the case of a civil infraction there are two sides to every story.

“I’m honored to be appointed by the City of Reno to serve as a Hearing Officer. I have spent decades in municipal justice and look forward to applying jurisprudence to the appeals process at the City of Reno and make sure all parties are given access to the due process required by law,” said Sotelo. In addition to his position as TMCC teaching faculty, Sotelo has been a practitioner of criminal law for over twenty years and currently serves as a Specialty Court Attorney in the Reno Municipal DUI and Veterans Courts.