Ms. Jan Yoshiwara

Commencement Speaker

Jan YoshiwaraYakima Valley College is honored to have Ms. Jan Yoshiwara speak at the 89th Commencement Ceremony. Yoshiwara is executive director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), an agency that administers Washington’s system of 34 public community and technical colleges. The SBCTC sets policy, allocates state operating and capital funds to the colleges, strategically plans the two-year college mission, and approves educational programs.

Yoshiwara earned a bachelor of science degree in zoology from the University of California, Davis. She later earned a master’s in education degree in student personnel administration for higher education from Western Washington University.

Yoshiwara assumed the role of executive director in July 2017 after serving as deputy executive director for the State Board’s Education Division since 1994. The division consists of instruction, student services, eLearning, policy research, and performance accountability. In that role, Jan secured and oversaw multi-million-dollar grants and supervised state-level research on community and technical college students, staff and resources. She built partnerships with high schools, universities, business and labor leaders, state agencies, national associations, and philanthropic organizations. Yoshiwara worked with senior staff at colleges, universities, higher education and K-12 agencies, the Office of the Governor, federal and state lawmakers, and state business and labor partners to advance education goals and policies. She continues to advance these relationships as executive director.

Under Yoshiwara’s leadership, the State Board and the college system embarked on several initiatives to help more students succeed at the community and technical colleges. These efforts include establishing a Student Success Center that coaches colleges as they develop ways to help students earn degrees and certificates. She promoted Guided Pathways, a way of grouping classes and services to help students quickly and efficiently complete degrees and certificates. She helped complete the Math Strategic Plan, an initiative designed to help all students succeed in math courses, and also helped incoming high school students place into college-level math and English using innovative Bridge to College courses. In addition, her work helped expand Achieving the Dream, an initiative to improve student success measures at 16 colleges. To ensure the success of many of these initiatives, Yoshiwara obtained grant funding from sources like Jobs for the Future, College Spark Washington, and the University of Texas Austin’s Dana Center.

Yoshiwara has been instrumental in developing budget requests to the Governor’s office and the Washington state Legislature related to student success programs like Guided Pathways, I-BEST, Opportunity Grants, Math, Engineering Science Achievement (MESA), Job Skills Program, eLearning, basic skills, workforce development, aerospace training and applied bachelor’s degrees. She created the Open Course Library, a collection of 81 high-enrollment courses redesigned to use high-quality, free-to-use materials to lower students’ costs. Yoshiwara developed the System Direction and Strategic Technology plans, multi-year strategies for the college system to think about long-term goals. Yoshiwara also has placed an emphasis on developing partnerships with the Association of Washington Business, and the Washington State Labor Council, while reestablishing the system’s statewide student leadership organization (WACTCSA).

Yoshiwara’s career at the State Board began in 1984, and her commitment to the students, faculty and staff of Washington community and technical colleges has been extraordinary. In addition to serving as executive director, she has worked as associate director of planning and information services and for student services and minority affairs.