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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Bobbi Abram continues star track record in new position at SBCC

Bill Youngblood 2017
Courtesy of Jennifer LeMay.

As of May 1, the SBCC Foundation has entered a new era of leadership under Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bobbi Abram, who previously held the position as the executive director of Pasadena City College (PCC) in 2012.

Abram bears a consistent track record of success in community college philanthropy and a passion for supporting student success through helping create and maintain multiple initiatives such as a “microlending program for nurses” and creating the “Buena Achievement Awards” at PCC.

She also has an undeniably lengthy career, demonstrated through her work at PCC, Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Missouri.  

Abram expressed her excitement about joining the Foundation, highlighting its reputation as the leading community college foundation in the state.

“On a professional level, Pasadena City College Foundation is the number two Community College Foundation in the state,” Abram said. “SBCC Foundation is number one.”

During her 12-year tenure at PCC, Abram explained how she took note of the Promise Program at City College, which will soon serve over 2000 students, the largest number of students in the state. 

“I followed the Promise Program for quite a while because I was on the state board with my predecessor Jeff Green, and the Promise Program at Santa Barbara is the most comprehensive program in the state for supporting community college students,” Abram said. “That’s a very exciting program to be a part of.”

In 2012, the same year Abram was appointed to her position at PCC, she was featured in a Los Angeles Times article published on October 18, 2012, discussing PCC’s financial struggles at the time.

PCC was dealing with five years of state funding cuts, looking for ways to avoid the ramifications, which included cutting classes and being forced to turn students away due to a lack of public funding. To compensate for the lack of public funding, PCC turned to private donors to cover costs such as faculty salaries.

However, Abram helped significantly alleviate these concerns during her tenure at PCC.

“While I was there, we raised about $64 million from the time I started to the time I finished,” Abram said.

As the Foundation approaches its 50th anniversary, strategic planning is underway to determine the actions necessary for City College to have a successful year.

“When I was going through the interview process with the Foundation Board, there was an interest in creating a strategic plan,” Abram said. “One of the first things we’ll be doing is connecting with each of the board members, representatives of the leadership of the college, [and] representatives of the leadership of the community to identify where we feel like as an organization, we need to go next.”

Whatever steps the “strategic plan” includes will determine which initiatives the Foundation will focus on and work towards in the future.

“Once we start our strategic planning process, we should know in probably another year what our big initiatives are going to be going forward,” Abram said.

Similarly to Abram, current City College Superintendent-President Erika Endrijonas also previously worked at PCC from January 2019 to August 2023. Since Abrams’ move to Santa Barbara, the two have been working together again, but in a different manner.

“At Pasadena City College, I reported to Dr. Endrijonas because the foundation was an auxiliary, and I was an employee at the college,” Abram said. “Here in Santa Barbara, because the foundation is an independent organization, [and] I’m the chief executive officer of the Foundation, Erika and I are colleagues now whereas before we had a supervisory relationship.”

Given the number of students, 2024 is projected to be a milestone year for the Foundation. Abram stressed the importance of financial sustainability to keep up with the many students participating in the program and ensure that the Promise Program meets City College students’ needs.

“I’m really looking forward to building on the strength of what already exists specifically to Promise Programs and creating some sustainable funding so that we can keep that promise and grow that going forward,” Abram said. “As students learn about it and want to take advantage of it, the funding needs to continue to follow and be sustainable for it. And that will be one of my top priorities.”

According to Madeline Jacobson, president of the SBCC Foundation board of directors, Bobbi’s extensive philanthropic success at various community colleges assured the Foundation that her leadership makes her the perfect person for the CEO position.

“Bobbi has demonstrated a sustained passion for expanding educational opportunities and an impressive expertise in community college foundation leadership,” Jacobson said in a statement over email. “We are thrilled to have her join the Foundation and the Santa Barbara community.”

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