California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed a public employee union leader and his state budget director on Monday to serve as University of California regents, while also adding the state’s community colleges board president and a longtime education advocate to round out vacancies on the panel.
Laphonza Butler, who was president of the Service Employees International Union’s state council when Brown agreed to a union-backed effort to raise California’s minimum wage in 2016, was appointed to fill one of four vacancies on the Board of Regents. Butler has led the SEIU chapter for long-term care workers since 2010, and remains one of organized labor’s most visible leaders in California.
The governor also appointed Michael Cohen, director of the California Department of Finance and his top budget advisor, as a regent. Two others were chosen to serve on the panel for 12-year terms: Cecilia Estolano, the president of the California Community College Board of Governors, and Rich Leib, a member of the Solana Beach School District Board of Education.