CCSF 'Educated Palate' Remarks

In 2012 City College of San Francisco was in deep trouble. With the loss of accreditation looming, and public confidence in the College at an all time low - San Francisco's "Little Harvard on the Hill" was staring the down the barrel of imminent closure.

Amid a unrelenting stream of negative news, I was brought in as part of Kamer Consulting Group to refocus what San Francisco's flagship Community College meant - not just to the students and families - but the entire city. 

Immediately, with the help of students, faculty, staff and taxpayers, we launched the Save CCSF communications campaign.

A key component of the Save CCSF campaign relied on putting experienced and vocal advocates and their passion for the college - from everyday students to national political leaders - front and center. In newspaper profiles, on nightly newscast features, sports highlight reels, industry-focused articles and centerpiece press events - Save CCSF was a showcase for the incredible opportunity and success that CCSF provided the City of San Francisco - focused on investing the citizens and taxpayers with a sense of civic pride in their community college.

After months of positive press outreach generated a noticeable shift in media perception, we organized a flagship press event in outspoken defense of the College featuring political leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, CCSF Chancellor Art Tyler, as well as students and local business leaders. Held at the Educated Palate restaurant, a downtown classroom for CCSF's Culinary Arts program, the event was a resounding success, and marked a definitive turning point in public and political perception.

Shortly after this event made waves, City College was granted a stay by the Accreditation Board granting it more time to address ongoing concerns - regaining its full accreditation in January of 2017.

As a key organizer and speechwriter for this event, I wrote, contributed to, edited, revised, and coordinated remarks - among many other tasks.  Below are a few of the remarks I was a key author on from this outstandingly successful press event that marked a watershed moment in a successful campaign to save an incredible public institution.

Political Leader Remarks

City College of San Francisco President 

City Council Member
City College Board of Trustees President

Thank you Leader Pelosi, thank you staff and faculty, thank you students for being here this morning.

Thank you to the chefs for being such gracious hosts.

As you’ve seen and perhaps tasted today, we have an outstanding culinary program. But what you might not know is that it is just one of the dozens of incredible departments and programs here at City College. Our Mission is to provide access and opportunity to the broad and diverse spectrum of our students and the many communities they represent. And to tangibly connect our students to jobs and economic opportunity. We have an amazing array of career technical training as well as access to nearly every field of study.

From Fire Science to Nursing, Athletics to Health, Metro Academy students to our student entrepreneurs, all of which are represented here today, this college is proud to offer an incredible array of outstanding programs that offer access to San Francisco’s vibrant economy.

Our Fire Science program, represented by Marisa Nietogomez and Capt. Jim Connors here today, is one such program. Partnering with SFFD thanks to the work of our decorated faculty, our students in Fire Science have the enviable opportunity to get hands-on experience with engines around the city, gaining invaluable experience while giving back.

Automotive, represented here today by Thomas Billbury, is another standout program. Thanks to dedicated faculty like Ben Macri and Nicolas Rothman, our students partner with the non-profit City Car Share and Toyota of San Francisco to learn the latest in Hybrid and EV technology, fresh off the factory floor. The quality of that program is evident--our students are employed in garages around the Bay Area. In fact, garages the bay area over call our department to ask about our graduates. That’s how impressive our program is.

And our Athletics program. Our Athletics program does more than just win games, they win scholarships for our students, scoring over one million dollars in scholarship funds for students going on to four year colleges last year. Those are MVP level stats.

There’s more, our incredible nursing program, our champion Speech and Debate team, our standout Computer Science Department, I could go on all day--but I won’t (don’t worry).

These are just a few of the bright spots that make up the constellation of City College. From my years of representing this institution as a board member, I know firsthand that this is just a handful of the stories that students live out every day, down every hallway, in every classroom. This is an incredible place.

When San Franciscans voted to fund the creation of this college in 1935, they, like so many great San Franciscans before and after them, looked to the future.

Whether college-bound or a lifelong learner, completing a degree or picking up an extra skill in the evenings, San Franciscans knew then, as we know today, that the common human desire to better oneself, and provide access for every citizen to climb higher is part of what San Francisco, and this college, have always been about. That is a tradition we continue today, that’s represented here this morning by these incredible students, faculty and staff.

City College makes our communities vibrant, our city stronger, our future brighter. We’re proud of that--and we’re pleased to welcome you to the first day of Summer Registration here at City College of San Francisco.

Student Remarks

Student #1

  • Thank you Speaker Pelosi, thank you Tannis
  • My name is [removed]
  • I come from a finance background, I hold an MBA and had a prior career at Citibank
  • I chose to transition careers, I’ve always loved pastries and baking and I wanted to not just learn, but make it by job
  • I came to CCSF for simple reasons-it was the best
  • I evaluated to cost-benefit, the other programs would set me back 30-40 thousand dollars
  • As someone who just finished paying off loans, I knew I didn’t want to go down that road.
  • And the other programs were classroom based
  • But at CCSF it was a real deal, the classes actually supply real customers
  • You learn the front of the house and back of the house, a complete view that really important if I wanted to open my own spot
  • My first week, me expectations were exceeded immediately
  • The faculty, lab aids and chefs are dedicated
  • Chef Betsy goes the extra mile, if you need extra help, she’s there to sit down with you
  • Lab aids are volunteers, former students, which in incredible
  • Courses give you live experience
  • Real life events, buffets, you get to design your own desserts (I designed a tropical sundae). Most people work years to get to do that, we do that here right away
  • One month away from graduation, I really understand the value of the program
  • Whatever your background, at programs like this, CCSF gives you an opportunity.
Student #2
  • Hi my name is [removed]
  • I’m a part of the culinary class
  • I studied clinical nutrition at UC Davis
  • I’ve always had a passion for culinary
  • I heard about the program a while ago, and it stuck with me. I decided to pick this program at CCSF
  • It’s really affordable
  • As a recent grad, there’s debt that comes with it
  • I didn’t want to accumulate more
  • My specific program is actually a non-credit program, it’s free
  • It’s unbelieveable, where can you find a program that’s free today?
  • It’s vocation, it give you hard skills to give you something to take into the workforce
  • It’s great experience. I’m learning what I love at a cost I can afford
  • I would recommend that anyone

Business Leader Remarks

Entrepreneur #1

  • Thank you Tannis, thank you Speaker Pelosi
  • My name is [removed], I'm the person behind [removed] and [removed]
  • I'm a restaurateur, I've worked in restaurants all my life
  • I myself am a proud graduate of this program
  • As a young chef here in San Francisco, it gave me the foundation I needed to get me start
  • That foundation has allowed me build throughout my career, to open my own restaurants
  • To create my own dishes, experiment and expand.
  • I look to employ graduates from this very program, many of my current managers are alumni
  • This program is one of the strongest around--I know that from personal experience, as a student and employer
  • The students who graduate from CCSF have a level of practical, hands-on experience that's instrumental
  • They come from all backgrounds, all heritages, they each bring something fresh
  • And they can because this is one of the most affordable programs for fledgling chefs around
  • That access was critical for me many year ago, and it's critical now
  • That accessibility is crucial to the industry here is San Francisco, for restaurants like Nopa and others
  • A great restaurant is like a great dish--it starts with solid ingredients
  • In the case of a kitchen of a restaurant or cafe, those ingredients are the chefs, the servers.
  • If the people prepping, cooking, plating, and serving the meal aren't quality, the meal won't be either.
  • The industry has never been stronger in SF, and the need for talent has never been greater.
  • The quality that raises the bar in [removed] and across the city is created in places like this
  • The next great chef, the next killer dish and great eatery comes out of programs like this one here.
  • I'm looking forward to being a part of that.