LMC’s deans share their insights

Hannum and Hsieh offer the next generation of women their advice


A.R. Broom

Natalie Hannum, the new Vice President of Instruction smiles for the camera.

Nick Campbell , @TheNCExperience

Los Medanos College has a rich and diverse ensemble of talent in its ranks. This year for Women’s History Month, two deans share their journey in education and offer some feedback for the next generation of women.

What was their journey like being key women in leadership? What obstacles did they face? Equally important, what advice do they have for young women here at LMC? A little over 53 percent of the student population are women, and that gives our respective deans quite the audience. Natalie Hannum, MPA, is the Dean of Workforce and Economic Development for the college. Hannum, a faculty member since July of 2013, cites her biggest influences in her career, her former fire chiefs.

Hannum started her career as firefighter and eventually moved up to a fire captain with Cal Fire. While in this career, Hannum received invaluable mentoring from her fire chiefs. These chiefs instilled the value of constant improvement and professional development to remain relevant. She also learned the value of mentoring and continues in that tradition to this day.

Some early influences in her career at LMC are former Vice President Kevin Horan, who recently departed to Crafton Hills in San Bernardino county. Also, Kim Schenk at Diablo Valley College is cited as another professional influence in her career.

“They really made an impact on my career in education,” says Hannum.

However, the path to success is always beset with obstacles.

For me, it was overcoming low expectations. It can come from family expectations or social norms,” said Hannum. “Regardless, pushing past low expectations is one of the biggest obstacles I’ve had to overcome.”

For the upcoming generation of women she has some key advice.

“Be comfortable saying ‘no’,” said Hannum. “I’ve watched male colleagues for years in professional situations that require negotiating and they are comfortable with saying no.”

Initially, this skill was uncomfortable for the dean, who as a middle child, often had to play the role of the occasional negotiator and peace keeper.

Reflecting on the best advice she’s received in her career, Hannum emphasized patience and never underestimating the power of managing expectations. With people being aware of what you can and cannot do, they can gauge their expectations accordingly.

“Negotiations and interactions often fall apart when expectations fall short of what can actually be delivered,” she said.

Chialin Hsieh, Dean of Planning & Institutional Effectiveness, has been with LMC since 2017. Her department provides effective leadership by managing college wide planning efforts. The department promotes student learning and success and coordinates the data LMC uses to achieve district wide goals.

Hsieh credits Dr. Wayne W. Dyer as a key influence in her professional career in education.

Reflecting back on the obstacles she faced in her career path, she reconciled these obstacles with a unique philosophy.

“We are the changing agent. When a system or environment was not working the way we want, we have to change ourselves. We can then gradually modify or fix the system itself to better serve us,” says Hsieh.

Some of the best advice Hsieh offers to young women at LMC is simple, yet poignant: “When you can be right or be kind, always choose kind. It may not be easy but just try your best to be kind. Ask someone how may I serve you?”

These two deans are a shining example of strides made by women at LMC. We tried to reach out to other deans at the college but they were unavailable for comment. However, their contributions to the college are not overlooked and are appreciated by staff and students.