SJSU’s Thalia Anagnos Named a YWCA Tribute to Women Honoree

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos.

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos in action in the classroom. Photo: David Schmitz

Thalia Anagnos, San José State University’s vice provost for undergraduate education, has been named a Tribute to Women Award winner by the YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley.

Anagnos is part of a select group of more than 40 emerging and executive women honorees who were celebrated at their 37th annual awards ceremony in May. The recipients, according to the YWCA’s recent press release, “have excelled in their fields and have made significant contributions to Silicon Valley through their dedication and leadership.”

“We’re so excited to recognize the 43 honorees who have been selected to receive the Tribute to Women Award this year,” said Adriana Caldera Boroffice, Interim CEO, YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley.

Borroffice added that celebrating these women this year is particularly special, in light of the distinct challenges “women — especially mothers, senior-level and BIPOC women — have been experiencing” during COVID-19 and the “fortitude and resilience” they showed through it all.

The Tribute to Women Awards has recognized more than 1,400 women for their remarkable achievements at work and in their communities.

“Thalia’s passion, work and impact over the years provide a model for women leaders in higher education, whose obligation is to pay it forward for upcoming generations,” said President Mary Papazian. “Working quietly and behind the scenes, she has been instrumental in the education, training and success of countless California students, many of whom have gone on to add their own valuable contributions to our communities. I can think of no one more deserving than Thalia for this year’s YWCA Tribute to Women Award.”

“I was really honored that the president nominated me,” said Anagnos. “YWCA organized a meet-and-greet with some of the other women who were nominated, and we had a lot of commonalities in terms of professional experiences and volunteer activities; it was fun to connect with them and talk about their paths, too.”

Anagnos started at San José State as a general education advisor and assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering and taught for more than 30 years before her transition to administration. Over time, she has been involved with numerous committees and held a variety of other roles, including chair of the civil and environmental engineering department, SJSU’s first director of assessment, associate vice president of graduate and undergraduate programs and, currently, as vice provost for undergraduate education.

Presently, she oversees curriculum development and assessment of general education and undergraduate programs, as well as SJSU’s articulation agreements with the state of California’s community college system. She also supervises the university’s accreditation, academic program catalog, academic scheduling and e-advising, and coordinates some student success programs.

“Being a member of SJSU all these years has been really fun because of the variety of opportunities that working at a university provides such as research, teaching, working with the community, collaborating with other universities and mentoring students and colleagues,” said Anagnos.

The strong roots she’s built at the university over time have made all the difference in the impact she’s been able to make in leadership and directly with students.

“Having those relationships with people across campus has helped me to do the work I need to do — and learn what I need to know to help me change and grow,” she added.

Read the full story of Anagnos’ impact on SJSU here.

SJSU Highlights Its Own Women Leaders in Celebration of Women’s History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting some of San José State’s extraordinary women leaders and alumnae, showcasing the transformative impact women have made upon their lives—and the positive impact women can have as mentors, friends, family and aspirational figures to emerging women leaders.

Featured Leaders

Mary A. Papazian, President, San José State

Jenny Ming, ’77 Applied Sciences & Arts; Board Member, Levi Strauss & Co. 

Sheryl H. Ehrman, Don Beall Dean, Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, San José State

Brandi P. Jones, ’96 Education; Vice Dean and Professor, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California 

Ann Agee, Interim Dean, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San José State

Lisa Millora, Vice President for Strategy and Chief of Staff, Office of the President, San José State

Colleen Wilcox, Board Member, Tower Foundation Board of Directors

Ruth Huard, Dean, College of Professional and Global Education, San José State

Heather Lattimer, Dean and Professor, Connie L. Lurie College of Education, San José State


President Mary Papazian

Mary A. Papazian

SJSU President

What women in history do you admire? 

Mary Papazian (MP): There are so many women who have made contributions and impact, ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, as well as lesser-known women such as my own mother. Justice Ginsberg was an extraordinary woman who never allowed barriers to get in her way of the professional and societal progress she was determined to make. Her work in women’s rights, in particular, had a profound and lasting impact on our society.

I can actually draw a line from my own mother to RBG! When she was early in her marriage to my father, Mom was about to start a job when she became pregnant with my brother (her first child). That immediately cost her the job, since in those days pregnant women were not allowed in the classroom. This forced my Dad to set aside his educational pursuits and the trajectory of our family, and their careers and educational paths changed.

RBG later helped alter not only that line of thinking, but—just as important—the policies and laws that allowed it to manifest in society. So her perseverance, bravery and progressive thinking led to tangible changes for women everywhere, for generations.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

MP: My mother was probably the first woman who I came to admire deeply. She was an educator herself, having taught high school English and American history for 30 years. She was always proud of me and supportive of my goals and ambitions, and she encouraged me to consider academic and career possibilities that she may not have had given the era in which she lived.

There have been many others along the way, of course. At each stop in my professional and academic career, I benefited from the generosity of a wide range of advisors, mentors and supporters. From my days as a PhD candidate through the growing challenges of university teaching, scholarship and leadership, I experienced the immense value of those professional networks.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

MP: Having women in positions of leadership is more important than ever. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been enormous for everyone in society, of course, but perhaps these stresses are felt even more acutely by women. Still, women remain greatly underrepresented in the ranks of university administration and leadership across the nation, despite the increasing numbers of women college graduates.

My best advice? We must continue effectively to harness the experience, wisdom and power of women leaders to help find, prepare and move more women into college presidencies and other executive and leadership. I would counsel all women leaders—no matter what positions we hold—to be intentional about serving as door-openers, role models and sounding boards, so women who are seeking advancement are not alone.

By paying it forward for upcoming generations, we can ensure that the leadership in higher education appropriately reflects the diversity of our society, and we can continue to better meet the complex and diverse needs of our students, faculties, communities and employers.

Tim Cook, Malala, and President Papazian

SJSU President Mary A. Papazian meets in late 2019 with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai and Apple CEO Tim Cook on the SJSU campus. Papazian moderated a discussion that examined the impact of a partnership between Apple and Yousafzai on expanding access in girls’ education around the world. Photo: Jim Gensheimer.


Jenny Ming, ’77 Applied Sciences & Arts

Board Member, Levi Strauss & Co.

What women in history do you admire?

Jennie Ming (JM): There are so many admirable women in history. If I have to pick one, it would Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). She was on the federal bench for 25 years and a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Throughout her life, RBG was a leading voice for gender equality, women’s interests, and civil rights and liberties. She did all this while balancing being a wife, mother and grandmother. She taught me to believe in myself, and that I can be anything I want to be.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

JM: There are many women who have supported me throughout my life, starting with my mom and sisters.

I was also fortunate to have incredible mentors and bosses at work. Most notable was my first boss at the Gap: Patti DeRosa. She taught me how to bring my real and best self to work and to be authentic and fair to those that you work with. Patti gave me the confidence that I can do and achieve anything.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

JM: Find what you are passionate about. Work with people you respect and can learn from. Believe in yourself and do not be afraid to fail. You can be anything you want to be.


Sheryl Ehrman, Dean, College of Engineering

Sheryl H. Ehrman

Don Beall Dean, Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering

What women in history do you admire? 

Sheryl Ehrman (SE): I admire women historians like Margaret Rossiter and non-fiction writers, like Margot Lee Shetterly, who have researched and promoted women’s advances in STEM. When I was growing up, it seemed like the only woman ever mentioned in the history of science was Marie Curie, and there is much more known now about the advances so many women have made.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations? 

SE: My grandmother Dorothy Tombaugh, who had a MS degree in chemistry and ended her career as a high school science teacher, developing methods to teach chemistry and biology to visually impaired students.

My mom Sandie Ehrman, who loved building things but wasn’t allowed to take shop class as a girl in school. She learned how to work with her hands from my grandfather Roy Tombaugh, and she majored in home economics/textiles and design in college. My daughter loved being able to draw a dress design (at age 4) and having my mom create a pattern and make it for her.

My high school calculus teacher Mrs. Mitchell, who was so enthusiastic and confident about math, and so good at making math fun (donuts on the day we learned about toroidal shapes, for example).

Because of my grandmother

and Mrs. Mitchell, there was never a question in my mind that women could [or could not] have careers in STEM, and my mom’s design/construct skills made her a great role model.

In my career, Dr. Sandra Greer, formerly the provost at Mills College, and before that a faculty member in chemistry and chemical engineering at the University of Maryland College Park, was a great mentor, as I started my career as a professor.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

SE: Your perspective and your voice are important. Women tend to be overcautious rather than overconfident. If you’re afraid to step up and try something new because you aren’t sure you are fully prepared, consider stepping up anyways and be ready to keep learning and growing.


Brandi Jones, SJSU Alumna

Brandi P. Jones, ’96 Education

Vice Dean and Professor, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California

What women in history do you admire?

Brandi Jones (BJ): Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary McLeod Bethune, Shirley Chisholm, Harriet Tubman

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

BJ: My mother Aretha M. Jones and my junior high school principal Dr. Linda Caillet.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

BJ: In the words of Shirley Chisholm, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”


Ann Agee

Interim Dean, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

What women in history do you admire? 

Ann Agee (AA): The many women throughout history who have worked in and advocated for libraries.

The mission of libraries is to provide free and open access to information, and this access changes lives. For centuries, women in libraries have battled for books and resources, so their libraries could provide their patrons with the tools for lifelong learning.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

AA: Too many to count! Throughout my life, my mother has supported me in every way. Experienced librarians have served as mentors and given guidance that has helped me attain my professional goals. Women friends have provided emotional support and lots of opportunities to laugh.

Never underestimate the power of perspective!

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

AA: Persevere. In academia especially, persistence is needed to achieve important goals. If you have an objective, it might be the work of years to reach it and pushing through obstacles—maybe more than once—to successfully realize your goal. By persevering, you can learn from your mistakes, then just keep going.


Lisa Millora, SJSU chief of staff

Lisa Millora

Vice President for Strategy and Chief of Staff, Office of the President

What women in history do you admire? 

Lisa Millora (LM): I believe there is so much value in every woman’s lived experience. That said, I especially admire the women who have broken barriers for other women and transformed lives through their courageous actions.

Those who come to mind immediately are Corazon Aquino, Dolores Huerta, Malala Yousafzai, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey, each of whom overcame numerous obstacles—personally and publicly—to stand up for the most marginalized among us. All heroes have friends, co-organizers and partners who walk alongside them in creating change.

I also admire groups like the all-women’s mountaineering team that climbed Annapurna as part of the American Women’s Himalayan Expedition in 1978. This team demonstrated what a dedicated group of women can achieve—and challenge the limitations imposed upon us of what we can do.

In doing so, this team changed the narrative about a woman’s place in the world.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

LM: First and foremost, my mother, Anita Santiago Lansang-Millora. She was raised in the Philippines by her single mother, a widow as a result of World War II’s Bataan Death March. Seeing how her educated mother was able to support her and her brother as a teacher, my mother instilled in my sisters and me a belief in the power of education.

She encouraged us to pursue college degrees, telling us that they would allow us to be independent, and they would be assets that no one could ever take away from us.

This belief, combined with her strong ethic of care and sense of social justice, drove her to pursue an MD which she used to serve one of the poorest communities in my hometown for her entire professional career.

Uncommonly kind, my mother also showed me that women could be both kind and strong, hold others accountable while being respectful, and work full time while being fully present to my sisters and me.

Amazing women—my three sisters, Jenni, Laura, Ngoc, Jeanne, Kimmie, Monica—and countless others—have helped me achieve my dreams.

Collectively, they have taught me how to love and respect myself, picked me up and dusted me off, challenged me, kept me honest, cheered me across both metaphorical and literal finish lines, and supported me through every chapter, every joy and every sorrow of my life.

Lisa Millora and daughter reading together

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

LM: Don’t let any single moment—good or bad—define you. That means not resting on your laurels just as much as it means not letting failure keep you from creating the life you desire. If I’ve learned anything on my journey, it’s that the way we respond to failure is far more important than the mistakes we make.


Colleen Wilcox

Board Member, Tower Foundation Board of Directors

What women in history do you admire? 

Colleen Wilcox (CW): Certainly Eleanor Roosevelt, whose famous quote “You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” has encouraged me down many challenging paths that I probably would never have pursued without that encouragement.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

CW: My older cousin Carolyn showed me a professional trajectory that I hadn’t witnessed from my immediate family or friends and gave me the encouragement to believe it was as simple as putting one step in front of the other toward my goals.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

CW: Take advantage of every opportunity afforded you and reach for those that haven’t crossed your path—and kindness always matters.


Ruth Huard, Dean, College of Professional and Global Education

Ruth Huard

Dean, College of Professional and Global Education

What women in history do you admire?

Ruth Huard (RH): I respect and admire those who have both honed their minds and opened their hearts to act and positively change the lives of others, their community, their country or humankind— women like Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, code breaker Elizebeth Friedman, [American nurse] “Angel of the Battlefield” Clara Barton, suffragist Susan B. Anthony, mountaineer and teacher Junko Tabei, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

RH: I am fortunate to have been surrounded, supported and mentored by strong, smart women who selflessly do and act—my grandmothers who advocated for quality education in impoverished communities; my undergraduate advisor, Mary Gauvain, who challenged me and my peers to make opportunities rather than wait for them to be offered; my mom, who showed me the significant impact of opening our home to strangers; and Barbara Hayes-Roth, my boss as I entered the startup world, one of the few female CEOs in Silicon Valley and an early innovator and leader in applied AI [artificial intelligence].

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

RH: Develop a bias for action, have the courage “to do” and keep moving forward—and be fully present, engaged and intentional with what you are doing and those you are doing it with.


Heather Lattimer, Dean and Professor, College of Education

Heather Lattimer

Dean and Professor, Connie L. Lurie College of Education

What women in history do you admire?

Heather Lattimer (HL): I so appreciate women who broke rules and pushed boundaries.  A few in particular: Lilian Ngoyi, Madeleine Albright, Nana Nama’u, Ida B. Wells, and Isabelle Allende.

What women in your life supported you on your journey to achieving your goals and aspirations?

HL: My mom always encouraged and supported me. I’m an only child and only grandchild, a reality that can carry a lot of expectations. But I never felt pressured to be or become something to please others. I was allowed and encouraged to explore possibilities and dream big.

What is your advice for emerging women leaders at SJSU and across the country?

HL: Don’t be afraid to be ambitious in your aspirations and advocate for yourself. For my generation, the message (explicit or implicit) was often that women shouldn’t be openly ambitious, that we should work hard and wait to be noticed. But that’s not the way the world works. Speak up, share your goals, advocate for your future. Doing so will strengthen our whole community.