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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

After four years as vice president of HR, Deneatrice Lewis waves goodbye

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Sylvia Stewart
Deneatrice Lewis, the former superintendent/vice president smiles on her last day at City College on April 26 at SBCC’s Winslow Maxwell Overlook. Lewis finished her time at City College with a tenure.

Deneatrice Lewis, the interim assistant superintendent/vice president of human resources (HR), concluded her tenure at City College on April 26.

Lewis’s journey officially began when she was hired the week after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted City College’s campus to close down in 2020.

“COVID years are like dog years,” Lewis said. “Although I’ve only been here for four years, it feels like ten.”

Lewis served as director of human resources for two years and eventually transitioned into the role of interim assistant superintendent/vice president of human resources after the previous vice president left.  

“I was first hired as a director,” Lewis said. “However, I wasn’t the first-round pick. I had interviewed probably the year before I was hired for the director position and made it to the final interview, [and] I was not selected. 

“But I knew this was where I wanted it to be.”

According to Lewis, “it’s important to be in a place that is a good fit,” and despite not getting her desired position on the first try, Lewis felt at home at City College and knew this was where she wanted to work.

“I kept an eye out on the job, and maybe less than a year later, the position was posted,” Lewis said. “So I applied again and was offered the position. My journey [here] began before I was hired.”

Lewis highlighted the most notable attributes of her work in human resources, stating that “being at the forefront of employee relations issues” and “partnering with all of [City College’s] different employee groups for labor” mattered significantly in both of her positions.

“For me, it is all about the humanity in HR,” Lewis said. “Finding a way to ensure that employees are seen and heard.”

In addition to navigating employee relations issues and supervising the human resources team at City College, Lewis explained that working in human resources comes with negative assumptions and stigmas that aren’t necessarily true.

“Oftentimes, people hear HR, and they dread it, they think [there is] a problem,” Lewis said. 

Lewis aims to have others view HR in a “positive light” and utilize it as an asset and tool rather than a strict disciplinary area. 

Despite having to adjust to multiple HR positions and navigate the difficulties of working remotely due to COVID-19, Lewis’ dedication to supporting the City College community beyond mere administrative duties remains evident.

Lewis explained how she worked to navigate different ways to support her peers no matter their position so they could be free of any barriers that inhibited their ability to succeed.

“I like to say that I help remove barriers and advocate,” she said.

As Lewis prepares to embark on her new journey as the incoming vice president of people, culture, and belonging at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in May, according to the Board of Trustees meeting on April 25, Daniel Le-Guen Schmidt will be fulfilling the position of assistant superintendent/vice president of human resources starting June 10, 2024.

“I’m gonna miss the relationships that I didn’t get to explore as much, and I’m going to miss the relationships that I was able to establish and had the opportunity to work with,” Lewis said. “I think for those that work in education, there’s a level of selflessness, and there’s this desire to give. I’m gonna miss that here with this group.”

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