The Excellence in Communication and Educational Leadership (EXCEL) Academy was designed to grow individual leadership skills, enhance interpersonal and group communication, expand institutional/systemwide knowledge, and further develop team building skills.



picture of cindy vyskocil and an EXCEL member

The EXCEL Academy is a semester-long retreat and workshop series, sponsored by the District, and open to full-time and part-time Classified Staff, Faculty, and Managers.  EXCEL provides an opportunity for leaders across the District to work with each other in an effort to forward the vision and mission of the District by working more effectively together as a leadership team.

“Here in SOCCCD, we believe in collaboration and building teams of aspiring leaders who support each other on their development journey,” said Dr. Cindy Vyskocil, SOCCCD Vice Chancellor of Human Resources.


people in a workshop

EXCEL Leadership Academy participants meet throughout the semester as a group for three or more hours, in addition to a kick-off retreat where they will address topics related to communication, team dynamics, personal/professional growth, and overall leadership style.






group of women at a workshop

Topics will include, but are not limited to, the following: 

· Assessing our own strengths

· Institutional dynamics and culture

· Leadership through a DEIA lens

· Organizational Health

· Institutional Effectiveness and Accountability

· Participatory Governance

· Being a leader in one’s current role

Current Cohort

The 2nd EXCEL cohort has been selected and they have already hit the ground running with a successful retreat. EXCEL is a leadership development program open to classified staff, managers, and faculty across the district. Participants meet weekly about various topics including communication, team dynamics, personal/professional growth, and overall leadership styles.

group of people posing for a picture

Vice Chancellor Cindy Vyskocil and her team have led this effort and are proud to train the next cohort of leaders, that includes:

Rose Adon IVC   Georgina Martinez Saddleback
Anthony Beccera Saddleback   Connie Ramos District
Jennifer Bonkowski District   Efren Rangel Saddleback
Vanessa Cortez District   Fiona Rashid Saddleback
Nikki Dao Saddleback   Kim Rezvani Saddleback
Christina Delgado IVC   Ana Rodriguez Saddleback
Raj Dhillon Saddleback   Julie Scholl IVC
Sue Donelson Saddleback   Sara Sperazza District
Anthony Ercolamento IVC   Timothy aka Tim VanNorman IVC
Tricia aka Trish Fain Saddleback   Debbie Vanschoelandt IVC
Janet Falcon District   Greg Vega IVC
Fleur Fong Saddleback   Ruby Villavisencio IVC
Connie Frey IVC   Nick Wilkening IVC
Jackie Han District   Sonja Wyche District
Anwar Hijaz Saddleback   Angela Yang Saddleback
Elliot Klinge Saddleback   Jackie Zimbalist Saddleback
Vanessa Lewis IVC      

Congratulations to all the participants and I hope to join you soon at a future session.

Past Cohort

The first year of the program was 2023 and featured speakers from within the district, throughout the region, and across the state including, but not limited to, former California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley, North Orange County Community College District Chancellor Byron Breland, and SOCCCD’s Chancellor Julianna Barnes.

graph that shows what the group learned, such as communication, autheniticity, self-reflection

“The EXCEL Leadership Academy was successful in its first year because of the dedicated people who helped organize a meaningful and engaging series of professional development opportunities, such as Vice Chancellor Vyskocil and her team, but also because of the participants of the program who are committed to excellence for themselves and for the students we serve. The passion amongst these leaders to learn, know, and give the best is evident. I can not wait to see what they will do next with the knowledge gained from this program,” said SOCCCD Chancellor, Dr. Julianna Barnes.

group of people posing and smiling

View photos from the first EXCEL cohort

Join the Academy!

The program is open to a diverse group of classified staff, managers, and faculty from District Services, Irvine Valley College, and Saddleback College. Ideal candidates for the EXCEL program will have a willingness to be leaders that will inspire greatness throughout the South Orange County Community College District. Spots are limited for this opportunity, and we aim to have equal participation from Staff, Faculty, and Administrators. The program will reopen for applicants in the Fall.

Please note that participants are expected to commit to attending all events and workshops, which include the following:

  • The overnight, offsite retreat
  • Afternoon/Late Afternoon workshops during the semester
  • The capstone event in May


Dates for EXCEL events are listed below. Workshop times will be finalized before the kickoff session. Each workshop will be approximately 3 hours in length, occurring some time between the hours of 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm.





Friday – Saturday  

January 26-27, 2024 

9:00 am on Friday through Saturday afternoon
(overnight event) 

Workshop #1 


February 9, 2024 

TBD (Afternoon/Late Afternoon) 

Workshop #2 


February 22, 2024 

TBD (Afternoon/Late Afternoon) 

Workshop #3 


March 8, 2024 

TBD (Afternoon/Late Afternoon) 

Workshop #4 


March 14, 2024 

TBD (Afternoon/Late Afternoon) 

Workshop #5 


April 5, 2024 

TBD (Afternoon/Late Afternoon) 

Workshop #6 


April 18, 2024 

TBD (Afternoon/Late Afternoon) 

Workshop #7 


April 26, 2024 

TBD (Afternoon/Late Afternoon) 

Capstone Event 


May 3, 2024 

5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.