CSEA members receive 2018 Community College Classified Employee of the Year Award


Updated 5/16/18

CSEA members James Forte and Sherri Suarez were among the four outstanding community college employees honored by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors on May 14. The Community College Classified Employee of the Year Award, presented by the Board of Governors along with the Chancellor’s Office and the Foundation for California Community Colleges, recognizes outstanding classified employees throughout the community college system.


James Forté

James Forté

San Joaquin Delta College
San Joaquin Delta Chapter 359

In his 13 years in the San Joaquin Delta College District, James Forté has been a prime example of an ideal true-blue employee. He established trusting relationships by connecting with faculty, fellow classified professionals, administration and most importantly students. As a proud member of the Stockton community, Mr. Forté is deeply rooted in community activities serving as a liaison for the Latino youth conference planning committee, a member of the classified senate, African American Employee Council President, and volunteer mentor for My Brother’s Keeper Academy of Stockton. Mr. Forté has enthusiastically offered his skills and support to ensure the success of programs like the AFFIRM Learning Community and the Passport to College program. No matter what situation arises, Mr. Forté always remains calm and professional seeking to find a solution that will be fair for all parties involved. Mr. Forté’s dedication and passion to help anyone in need extends beyond expectations of an administrative assistant, whether it is his duty or not, you can count on him to simply do it because he knows that his one kind word, gesture or smile will make the difference in that person’s day.


Sherri Suarez

Sherri Suarez

Modesto Junior College
Yosemite CCD Chapter 420

Sherri Suarez is the Facilities Duplicating and Mail Coordinator at Modesto Junior College and has served the Yosemite Community College District for 20 years. Ms. Suarez is the epitome of customer service and her customers include faculty, staff, students and the community. As an active member of the Facilities Council, Sherri serves as a representative for classified staff and as a professional expert by providing history and insight to the available facilities and those being taken down for maintenance. As part of a reorganization to save the college money, Sherri was asked to take on the additional responsibility of coordinating the Duplicating Department. Although she was not familiar with the department and their processes, she jumped right in and researched best practices, brought all accounts up to date and provided great support to the classified professionals working in the department. Her work ethic doesn’t end on the MJC campus either. For many years Ms. Suarez has volunteered as a caregiver for a gentleman from her church community who had no family to help him, along with taking on a leadership role as Chief Negotiator representing classified employees in CSEA. Sherri embodies the California Community College mission by empowering the college through leadership, advocacy, and support with a strong commitment to contributing to the social, cultural and economic development and wellness of the community college system.


About the Award

Up to six recipients are selected and honored annually. Classified employees with a minimum of 5 years of service as a permanent employee within the nominating Community College District (full-time or part-time) are eligible for the award. The nominees are evaluated on their commitment to: the mission of community colleges; professional ethics and standards; serving the institution through participation in professional and/or community activities; and serving as a leader beyond the local institution.

Recipients are nominated by their colleagues and endorsed by the local Board of Trustees. No later than March 15th each local Board of Trustees may forward the information for one nominee to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. Award winners are selected by representatives of the Community Colleges Board of Governors, Chancellors Office, and the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Recipients are announced and honored at the May Board of Governors meeting.