College of Marin workforce dean wins North Bay Women in Business award

Alina Varona

Dean, career education and workforce development

College of Marin

1800 Ignacio Blvd., Novato 94949

Alina Varona, dean for workforce development and career education at College of Marin, is a winner of North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Women in Business Awards.

Tell us about yourself and your company: Alina Varona joined College of Marin as their Dean of Workforce Development and Career Education in July 2020. Dean Varona manages career education programs spanning from Automotive Technology to Allied Health and Multimedia Design.

She works closely with regional and county agencies, community-based organizations, and local industry members to ensure the College remains responsive to the existing and emerging employment and training demands. Varona has been working in education for nearly 15 years, specializing in career education, career pathways, and dual enrollment.

Most recently, she was the associate dean of Career Pathways and the Strong Workforce Program at City College of San Francisco, and before that served as a grant manager and faculty coordinator for the San Mateo Community College District’s Career Advancement Academies.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

I am most proud of both the ways I was able to support my team and colleagues to meet their goals in an intentional, deliberative way. This includes the delivery of our Education to Careers Construction training program which provided training to those seeking careers and a livable wage, the current development of CNA/Home Health program, and the many innovative ways we delivered relevant, career education in person and remotely.

What is your biggest challenge today?

This work year, like for so many of my colleagues, was unorthodox to say the least. In addition to starting at a new role at a new institution, and moving to a new county, I was learning a new institutional culture. A year into my role, I have yet to step foot into my office!

Words that best describe you: "Nevertheless, she persisted"

Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person:

Ray Hernandez is a trusted friend and mentor. He was a champion, a guide, and a model for who I wanted to be as a leader in higher education.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?

Be impeccable with your word, work, and character.

Typical day at the office: Kitchen table; computer, zoom.

Best place to work outside of your office: Outside in the sun.

Current reading: “Dare to Lead”, “The New Jim Crow”

Most want to meet: Tina Fey and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

Social media you most use: I don’t use social media!

Stress relievers: Exercising and cuddling my dog.

Favorite hobbies: Baking, cooking, hiking, and music.

If asked, what would parents or significant others say about you?

That I’m thoughtful and hardworking.

Alina Varona

Dean, career education and workforce development

College of Marin

1800 Ignacio Blvd., Novato 94949

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