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Van Ton-Quinlivan

Executive Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development

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Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan

Van Ton-Quinlivan, Executive Vice Chancellor for Workforce & Digital Futures, is a nationally recognized thought leader in workforce development, with a proven track record for implementing large-scale system change.  As executive vice chancellor, she sets strategies and priorities for the California Community College’s workforce mission and its technology and data portfolio.  Her divisions deploy an estimated $950 million in annual federal and state funding towards policy and program priorities in support of California’s 114 community colleges, the largest and most complex higher education system in the nation.  Ton-Quinlivan’s leadership priorities include delivering on a skilled workforce to fuel California’s regional economies and positioning the system and its students for the future through better use of technologies and data science. 

She joined the system in 2011, when she was appointed by California’s governor as Vice Chancellor of Workforce & Economic Development.  As vice chancellor, Ton-Quinlivan spearheaded the creation of Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy, a unifying framework to improve workforce outcomes for California’s 2.1 million community college students, advance social mobility and fuel strong regional economies. Her administrative responsibility grew to $900 million from an initial $100 million in program funds as a result of her ability to inspire others toward a common vision.

In 2015-2016, Ton-Quinlivan led the ground-breaking Strong Workforce Task Force to create one million more middle-skilled workers in California, which shifted workforce from an afterthought to a policy priority for the state and resulted in the governor signing the Strong Workforce Program into law along with an annual commitment of $200 million in funds for career education. Ton-Quinlivan also is at the forefront of efforts to make California workforce data more useful and accessible, sponsoring and launching new data tools to increase transparency for colleges and students on the effectiveness of workforce programs, including the LaunchBoard, now in use at all 114 colleges, and the Here to Career mobile app that supports early student career exploration.

In 2013, Ton-Quinlivan was named a White House Champion of Change for her distinguished career in industry, education and her service as a community leader. She was invited to the White House again in 2014 to witness President Obama sign the Workforce Innovation & Opportunities Act (WIOA) and went on to chair California’s implementation of the legislation across seven state agencies.

In 2017, she received the California Steward Leader Award, selected for her significant contributions to align public-, private- and civic-sector leaders to promote economic and social progress in all regions of the state. The award is an initiative of the California Economic Summit in partnership with California Forward and the California Stewardship Network, and it celebrates “state and regional leaders who help sustain California as a place to create and thrive, to enjoy and to explore, to nurture and to bestow to future generations.”


Ton-Quinlivan is
vice chair of the National Skills Coalition, co-chair of the Workforce Action Team of the California Economic Summit and serves on the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), as well as the National Advisory Committee for Apprenticeship. She participated on the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Closing the Skills Gap Implementation Team.

Ton-Quinlivan wrote about the transformation of the California Community Colleges workforce mission for the Stanford Social Innovation Review (“Cross-Sector Collaboration: What the Tipping Point Looks Like”) and is the subject of a Stanford Graduate School of Business case study entitled “Van Ton-Quinlivan: Converting a Talent Puddle to a Talent Pool.”  She has been quoted in the New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Insider Higher Education and other publications.

Prior to her higher education role, Ton-Quinlivan oversaw workforce development for Pacific Gas & Electric, a large gas and electric utility company in California. While there, she conceived, developed and implemented PowerPathwayTM, a best-practice program in workforce development that brought the utility industry-wide and national recognition. PowerPathwayTM demonstrated that collaboration between industry, the public workforce system, education and organized labor can effectively help military veterans and members of underserved communities transition into well-paying energy-sector jobs.  

Ton-Quinlivan is a frequent speaker on workforce development, having spoken to the Education and Training Subcommittee of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board; at the first Clinton Global Initiative America conference; in panels of the Brookings Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and the RAND Corporation; and to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. She also has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

Ton-Quinlivan resides in California with her husband and two children. She holds degrees from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford Graduate School of Education and Georgetown University.