Diana Fuentes-Michel

Executive Director

Executive Director Diana Fuentes-Michel

Diana Fuentes-Michel was appointed Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission (Commission) on May 5, 2003, bringing with her an extensive background in higher education program administration, policy development and state and federal governmental advocacy. A proud recipient of a Cal Grant B from 1975-1979, Fuentes-Michel credits the Cal Grant Program with providing the financial support she needed to become the first in her family to receive a college degree.

Her work in public policy and program administration has focused on increasing educational opportunity, student access and financial aid through involvement with the enactment of the Cal Grant Entitlement Program and the state's Scholarshare Investment Program. Fuentes-Michelís passion and commitment to serving low-income first generation college students led to the establishment of a statewide financial aid public awareness program, Cash for College, which partners with private business and community based organizations to provide scholarship assistance and hands on workshops in both English and Spanish. During 2011, more than 600 Cash for College workshops were held in 50 California counties, motivating students to fill out the necessary applications for all available forms of financial aid.

Fuentes-Michel has enjoyed a distinctive career in higher education and government. She was Director of Public Affairs for the University of California and Vice Chancellor for the California Community Colleges. As Undersecretary for former California Secretary for Education, John Mockler, she advised the Governor on higher education policy and legislation and assisted the Governor in the appointment process for numerous education boards and commissions. She also served as Assistant Secretary for Higher Education from 1999-2000 under former Senator and Secretary of Education Gary Hart. Prior state service includes ten years as legislative and budget staff to the California Postsecondary Education Commission, legislative aide to former Assembly Member Peter Chacon and as a budget analyst for the California Department of Finance.

Under her leadership, the Commissionís Cal Grant and specialized programs have expanded to provide financial aid to more than 330,000 eligible students in 2010-11 (attending both private and public California higher education institutions) from less than 248,000 eligible students in 2003-04. Commission staff initiated the WebGrants4Students program to provide 24/7 access for students to track their grant applications, and a Voice-activated Response System in the Commissionís call center to expedite information sharing with the general public. Fuentes-Michel also led staff in making improvements in the Cal Grant Grade Point Average Verification System and regional school training initiatives. In addition, the Commission, under her leadership, implemented a real-time grant delivery system in 2008-09 to streamline administrative processes and information sharing between Commission staff, financial aid offices, students and parents.

Fuentes-Michel is a 1975 graduate of Sacred Heart High School located in the Lincoln Heights community of Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Chicano Studies and also holds a Master of Arts degree in Government from California State University, Sacramento. She is a1979 California State Senate Fellow and a member of the national Jesuit honor society, Alpha Sigma Nu.

Professional affiliations include:

  • Central Valley Foundation, where she served on the Board of Directors. This organizationís principal goal is to improve academic opportunities for immigrant children of the Central Valley.
  • Education Advisory Committee of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). The PPIC is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective non-partisan research.
  • Loyola Marymount University Caucus. The caucus provides advisement and assistance to the president of the University regarding advancing the Universityís strategic goals at various levels of government.

Fuentes-Michel and her husband, Dr. Jose Michel, have three daughters and reside in Sacramento, California.