SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, SPECIALIST IN NON-PROFIT DEVELOPMENT: Sandra Chen Lau is Associate Vice President of Development for the prestigious Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. She also runs her own consulting firm, Trans-Adaptive Philanthropy, serving non-profit and charitable organizations. Among her clients is the San Marino School Foundation.
PROVEN LEADER IN FUNDING HIGHER EDUCATION: For more than a decade, Sandra specialized in helping colleges and universities grow and sustain their educational missions. She worked on successful multi-billion-dollar capital campaigns, and personally helped raise millions for leading schools in Southern California (and Pasadena).
- At the University of California, Los Angeles, Sandra was Director of Development for UCLA’s School of Public Affairs — including three nationally ranked academic departments and 11 research centers.
- At Pasadena’s Pacific Oaks College and Children’s School, she was Vice President of Advancement, leading efforts to raise scholarship support for working families and non-traditional students.
- At the University of Southern California, she served as Assistant Dean for Advancement at the USC School of Architecture. Then she took on a special assignment as the first chief development officer for the new USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena.
WORKING HARD TO SUPPORT AND STRENGTHEN PCC: After starting her own business, Sandra wanted to continue her work for higher education. So she joined the Board of the Pasadena City College Foundation, helping support PCC’s many outstanding programs. In addition, Sandra is a member of the PCC President’s Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Board.
COMMITTED TO THE MISSION OF OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGES: Sandra’s strong commitment to PCC grows directly out of her own experience as a student. Her story is a classic example of how community colleges change lives and build California’s economy.
Like many young people, Sandra struggled to find her path after high school graduation (Alhambra High). When CSU Long Beach eliminated her preferred major, she enrolled at Rio Hondo Community College. It was a key moment in her life. She not only flourished, she befriended many students from diverse backgrounds – other recent graduates, veterans, immigrants, older workers seeking new skills. All were using community college to transform their future possibilities.
After finding her academic focus at Rio Hondo, there was no stopping Sandra: she went on to graduate from UC Riverside with honors; earned an MA in Urban Planning at UCLA (specializing in community development); and built a successful career. Now she wants to keep the same opportunities alive for today’s students. That’s why she’s running for PCC Board of Trustees.
WIFE, MOTHER AND COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Sandra lives in Pasadena with her husband, James (who works in environmental policy), and their two children. Clementine attends Pasadena’s Waverly School and enjoys competitive gymnastics. Chace is in pre-school at Child’s Educational Center in La Canada Flintridge. He loves books and monster trucks.
In addition to her volunteer work for PCC, Sandra Chen Lau serves on the City of Pasadena’s Northwest Commission. In recent years she’s helped raise funds for Huntington Memorial Hospital as well as the USC Pacific Asia Museum. Sandra is also a former League of Women Voters Board Member, served on the Patron Committee for Planned Parenthood Advocates, and is a graduate of the Southern California Leadership Network.
A FAMILY STORY OF IMMIGRATION, STRUGGLE AND ACHIEVEMENT THROUGH PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION: Like many PCC students today, Sandra Chen Lau has immigrant roots. Her grandfather fled China for the US after World War II, and her father came in 1983 – after a brutal “re-education” during Mao’s infamous Cultural Revolution. It took 30-years of separation and hardship to reunite the family. But tough times make tough people; and California’s remarkable system of public higher education helped the whole Chen family find the American dream.