It’s impossible to catalogue the thousands of hours of Peralta work that have gone into the Nicky’s first two terms or to recount the many small and large areas of accomplishment. However, below are listed several areas where we believe Nicky has achieved noteworthy accomplishments.

Expand on any of the categories below for more details.

Service to Students 

At the end of the day, community colleges are about educating students and empowering them in their lives and the community. This means we need to provide them with great learning opportunities and student services. Notable accomplishments in this area include:

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Public Transportation and Student Access: In May, 2008, the board adopted a signature pilot universal AC Transit bus pass program for Peralta’s full-time students. This program was the result of Nicky’s work with Trustee Abel Guillen and Student Trustees Reginald James and Marlene Hurd. This pilot project turned into a permanent student benefit when in Spring 2009 Nicky helped lead the campaign for successful passage of the student ballot initiative to fund what became Peralta’s “Easy Pass” program. It passed with 88% ballot approval. Every year the Easy Pass saves Peralta student bus rider’s over $1700 each. Students pay just $31 per semester for a pass that takes them anywhere AC transit goes, including into San Francisco. In fact, literally millions of rides have now been taken by Peralta students since the program’s inception. This is project is triple win for Peralta and our community– save students money, get students to class and anywhere else they need to go, and promote a sustainable environment with public transportation.

Here’s the press conference announcing the launch of this fabulous program. Nicky speaking starts at min 4 35.

Health Services: Through his membership on the Board’s Student Services Committee as well as his leadership of the Facilities and Land Use Committee, Nicky helped insure $2 million in funding for an expansion of the Peralta Colleges health center. The Peralta health center will now offer:

  • Mental Health Counseling: including crisis intervention, assessment, evaluation and referrals.
  • Urgent Care
  • Doctors Visits
  • STD Screening and Treatment
  • HIV Testing and Education
  • Immunizations (HepB, Flu Shots, Tetanus)
  • TB Testing
  • Pregnancy testing
  • Distribution of condoms
  • Birth control counseling and prescriptions
  • First aid
  • Evaluation and treatment of short-term illnesses and injuries
You can view more about the health center here:

Equitable Funding: Nicky has consistently pushed the District towards more equitable funding of all students at Peralta’s four colleges, leading to dramatic progress in bringing Berkeley City College in line with per student spending at the District’s other colleges. As a result of this advocacy, in the fall of 2011 Berkeley City College increased its full-time faculty members by about 20%. Even more increases are planned for the 2012-13 academic year.

Environmental Sustainability

As a Peralta Board member Nicky has been chiefly responsible for writing and passing one of the state’s most progressive and bold environmental sustainability policies: Peralta Board Policy 2.40 on Environmental Sustainability. It’s not all just talk….

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This policy was the result of many hours working with a broad range of constituent groups at Peralta and in the community, receiving input, drafting, revising, and finally shepherding the policy through the Board of Trustees process for adoption.

On the ground, Peralta has implemented major changes in the District’s energy use, solid waste disposal, recycling and diversion, and water conservation.

  • Nicky was a major proponent of the development and expansion of the green jobs training programs throughout the Peralta Colleges, including a collaboration with Oakland’s Green Jobs Corp. The first cohort of students graduated from this program in the spring of 2009.
  • When Peralta opened a brand-new Berkeley City College campus, Nicky’s advocacy led the District to take the needed environmental measures to win the building a LEED-Silver environmentally sustainable rating, the first such building in the City of Berkeley.
  • All new buildings at Peralta are required to achieve at least LEED Silver ratings, and most have been designed for a Gold rating or better– this again was a result of Nicky’s initiative and advocacy.
  • Nicky advocacy and work with EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District) led Peralta to carry our long-overdue water audits. As a direct result of this work, Peralta replaced leaky pipes that were wasting literally millions of gallons of water annually.
  • For the first time ever, on Nicky’s watch and with his advocacy recycling bins were universally deployed in every Peralta classroom, office and public space.
  • In 2010, Peralta brought on-line a Merritt College solar photovoltaic field of almost 3000 solar panels that generates 40% of the college’s electricity needs, saves the college over $16 million over the life of the project, and stops 750,000lbs of global-warming gas CO2 emissions annually.  Solar projects for Laney College will go out for bid in 2012. Again, Nicky has been on the forefront of this work.
  • Peralta joined as a signatory partner with the East Bay Green Cooridor initiative, a collaboration among the cities from Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland.
  • Clean Air on Campus: On the environmental health front, Nicky initiated Peralta’s smoke-free campus policies and then led the District to sponsor statewide legislation granting community colleges the ability to enforce no-smoking rules with escalating fines (AB 795). This legislation, signed by Governor Brown in 2011, allows all colleges in the state for the first time ever to have an effective mechanism with which to promote healthful, smoke-free environments in their campuses.

And More… With the help of Nicky’s leadership, Peralta has variously

  • developed student green clubs on its campuses
  • hired student organizers/interns
  • established green innovation mini-grants for faculty and students
  • hosted film festivals with the Sierra Club
  • organized environmental justice and anti-poverty forums
  • held annual sustainability conferences throughout the District since 2005
  • helped organize faculty trainings on cross-discipline greening of all of its curriculum
  • helped Peralta vigorously pursue green collar jobs training programs, and
  • facilitated Peralta’s participation in the East Bay Green Corridor initiative

For more information about the Sustainable Peralta Initiative, click here.

Good Governance for the 99%

Nicky has long believed that government has an important role to play in creating a just society. Toward this end, Nicky has worked hard to bring the highest standards of social justice, ethics and good governance to the Peralta Colleges. Recently, Nicky successfully co-authored (with Trustee Abel Guillen) a Board Resolution calling for the divestment of Peralta’s investments and financial relationships with large for-profit corporate banks and reinvestment of these funds in local Coop and Community Banks and Credit Unions.

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This effort was simply one of the latest in a long string of legislative and oversight actions in this vein. Immediately after getting elected to the Peralta Board Nicky was able to help stop the sitting board members from making a sweetheart deal to transfer control of acres of public lands at Laney College to private developers. This was just the beginning.

Over the past eight years, the Board also initiated a long-overdue process of long-term educational and facilities planning which led to the adoption of the first educational and strategic master planning in the District in many years. Further, as part of Nicky’s leadership on the Board’s Facilities and Land Use Committee, the District adopted its first facilities master plan in over a decade, one that rationalizes, organizes and makes transparent all District spending of facilities bond monies. On Nicky’s watch, each college in the District then also engaged in a systematic educational master planning process that involved all elements of the campus communities.
In recent years, Nicky helped the board dramatically improve its financial accountability and transparency by hiring a new Chief Financial Officer, pushing for full disclosure of the investment of retirement funds, and leading the charge for labor and retiree representation on the retirement investment oversight board.

Worker Rights and Benefits

Nicky has long been an advocate for the rights of working people. Shortly after Nicky’s election to the Peralta Board, with Nicky’s initiative Peralta was, for the first time ever, able to provide long term employment security to part-time faculty members, many of whom had been in the District for decades with no rights or promises of being re-employed semester to semester.

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Nicky also helped stop the district from using long-term “temporary” employees with no health care or retirement benefits. Nicky has also been one of the most vocal advocates of part-time and classified employee equity rights. He was a primary advocate for Peralta to set up a “Project Labor Agreement,” insuring that work done through Peralta’s facilities bond construction program would be done with workers represented by Alameda County’s Building Trades unions.

Nicky has also pushed to get the District on sound footing to be able to provide health insurance for its employees without dividing the workforce into haves and have-nots. Nicky’s leadership led the Board of Trustees to adopt resolutions of support in favor of a statewide single-payer health insurance plan (SB 810) as well as the ability of the State Insurance Commissioner to regulate health insurance (AB 52). Nicky has also led the fight at the statewide level among sister community college districts to get behind these important health access bills.

In honor of one of our nation’s great union leaders, Nicky also worked closely with Trustee Abel Guillen to lead Peralta to begin recognizing California’s Cesar Chavez holiday. This observance began in 2011.

Civic Engagement & Student Empowerment

photograph of Nicky with Campus Camp Wellstone studentsWith over 2.5 million students, California’s community colleges are an important venue to organize, inspire, empower and mobilize people in the fight for socially just and environmentally sustainable communities. As a trustee, Nicky has done just this.

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In his first term of office, Nicky pushed for the establishment of an on-line system that automatically invited Peralta students who registered for classes simultaneously to register to vote. Through this process, Peralta registered over 23,000 voters in just three years!

Nicky has also advocated for the implementation of service learning and civic engagement programs throughout the district. This led Peralta to adopt Environmental Sustainability and Civic Engagement as one of its “program of distinction” in the District’s strategic master planning document. This means that the District is putting more resources into developing projects that place more students into the community where they not only provide thousands of hours of community development work, but they gain practical skills in civic and community engagement. It has also meant more resources for programs like green design and construction, green technology, and community development.

One model program that arose out of this initiative was the College of Alameda’s Violence Prevention certificate program that graduated its first cohort of community leader students in 2011.  Nicky was there to congratulate this amazing group of student graduates. By the fall term, the program had tripled its enrollment in the program and was developing cohorts for the cities of Richmond and Hayward.

Finally, Nicky has led the effort to educate, inspire, train and mobilize student activists to fight for themselves. His efforts led to three “Camp Wellstone”  training programs at Peralta since 2009 and many other student leadership training programs at De Anza College where he teaches. These trainings have empowered thousands of citizen activists to better control their destinies. At his home campus, Nicky also co-authored a grant from the Rappaport Family Foundation that created an ongoing internship program to hire 8 community college student social justice interns annually. These student leaders are organizing students to advocate for stronger community college funding, for public investments in social services and for more equitable treatment of undocumented (“AB 540”) students trying to get an education.

Nicky also co-authored a Peralta Board resolution to put the lobbying resources of the district behind the successful effort to pass the California Dream Act. As a result of this legislation, undocumented community college students who grew up in the United States will finally have access to some of the same financial aid benefits that help other students become successful and productive members of our community.

Community College Advocacy

Nicky has consistently fought for increased funding for community colleges. Whether through grassroots organizing and protest or through electoral action, Nicky has kept very busy.

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Nicky has been a fierce advocate for community colleges. As a life-long community college instructor, he has devoted decades in the service of community college students. Much of this work has been the day-in and day-out intensive focus on concrete student success and the mentoring of up-and-coming student leaders.

But advocacy also means organizing regular people to fight for themselves. Nicky has spent long hours putting together student organizing and advocacy trainings, helping to build grassroots protest campaigns, lobbying in Sacramento, and fighting for change at the ballot box.

Just one example: the February 2008 Community College Ballot Initiative (Proposition 92) called for a much more intensive effort. Nicky was excited to use this opportunity to generate support for and understanding of the community college mission. First, he was active in helping to qualify the initiative for the ballot, organizing students and others to gather over 1000 signatures. Then, almost single-handedly, he secured the endorsement for Prop 92 from EVERY single elected official in the City of Berkeley, from Democratic Clubs, other East Bay elected officials, and many community leaders and private individuals.

Nicky wrote and published 2 separate op ads in support of Prop 92 in the San Jose Mercury News and the Berkeley Daily Planet. Coordinating with the Peralta Federation of Teachers and the California Federation of Teachers, Nicky then organized and mobilized dozens of student volunteers to carry out voter education. On election day, he brought over 30 students from his own classes and contacts to walk precincts and do election day voter mobilization. Unfortunately, in the end, we lost our battle to pass Proposition 92. But, we did much to advance the public’s understanding of the critical role community colleges play in creating a just and more democratic society. Onward!

Nicky is an active member of his own labor union (the Foothill-De Anza Faculty Association) where he is helping to organize and mobilize faculty members into a stronger political force to fight for public education, student access and worker rights.

Electoral and Issue Organizing

Nicky derived his real foundation and approach to politics from his friend and mentor, the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Paul was not only Nicky’s undergraduate college advisor in the 1970s, but also a life-long friend and advisor until his death in 2002. Nicky’s work as an elected official has been modeled on the inspirational “Politics the Wellstone Way” combining grassroots organizing, progressive public policy and electoral politics.

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Nicky had served as a Congressional fellow in Paul’s office the year before his death.After the Senator’s death, Nicky made the decision to run for local public office to see what effect he could have in doing two things: first, bringing greater compassion and effectiveness to public education policy; and second, using the visibility and tools of public office to help organize citizens to be more involved in public decision-making and activism.

Obviously, Nicky won his race and was then re-elected to the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees. Though he had long been active in “issue politics,” his focus as a Peralta Trustee moved him deeply into electoral activism in the East Bay.

He has been part of the leadership of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club here in the East Bay ( and helped build it into a significant force for grassroots electoral organizing. He is also active on the board of the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County (, and again, has worked hard to make it a growing and significant organization for progressive electoral engagement. As a member of or alternate to the California State Democratic Party Central Committee, he has been a delegate to the state party’s annual convention since 2007.

He is active in each election cycle— raising money for staff for grassroots organizing, organizing precincts and carrying out voter registration, education and mobilization.

As a trustee and as a member of the progressive East Bay community Nicky tries to use his visibility and access to build a broader movement for social justice. He has organized or participated in scores of organizing and educational events and conferences, (especially in the areas of community college leadership, environmental sustainability, civil rights, Asian Pacific American Affairs, anti-poverty organizing and civic engagement).