Glendale resident and retired Col. Nancy Sumner was recently appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to serve on the California Community College Board of Governors, a 17-member group responsible for helping guide and set policy for the state’s 112 community colleges.
Sumner graduated from Burbank High in 1976, and went on to earn her nursing degree from Glendale Community College. She brings with her a wide range of experiences to the state board, but perhaps most notably, she is focused on expanding resources for military veterans involved in the community college system.
She began her military career in the California Air National Guard in 1981, serving in Desert Storm and Desert Shield operations, and in locations such as Ukraine, Afghanistan, Belize and Bosnia. During Operation Desert Storm, she was involved in more than 35 aero-medical evacuation missions.
She brings her military expertise to the emergency room at Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, where she currently works as a nurse and disaster coordinator. She is also a critical-care transport nurse for Schaefer Ambulance Service and serves on the boards for the Red Cross and YWCA of Glendale.
She also advocates for veterans through the Glendale Veteran’s Coalition, which helps veterans access education, among other services.
“My military [experience] sort of pulls into everything that I do,” she said this week, adding that she was “proud and honored” to be named to the Board of Governors.
She supports community colleges providing resources to veterans who may be in the throes of shifting back to civilian life.
“To transition from military to civilian is a lot harder than people realize,” she said. “You can’t take the warrior out of the veteran. We will always be warriors.”
This year marks the first year that veterans who live in Glendale, Burbank and the foothills can receive scholarships through the Glendale Veteran’s Coalition, Sumner said, adding that the money can be used for child care, therapy or transportation — aspects of veterans’ lives beyond their new academic endeavors.
But scholarships can also help cover tuition fees and the cost of books or materials.
Although she said the potential opportunity to serve on the Board of Governors was not initially on her radar, she was pleased to be considered for the position once Lindsay Sin, deputy secretary for women veterans affairs for the California Department of Veterans Affairs, suggested that Sumner be considered.
“This steps it up a notch to be more empowered and that’s exciting for me,” Sumner said. “I’m all about empowerment and listening to people that are in the trenches. Having been an officer and an enlisted person, it’s important to listen.”
Ann Ransford, president of the Glendale Community College board of trustees, said community colleges have played an important role in recent years to serve students who have entered school following military service.
“Having someone that really represents veterans is a great idea,” Ransford said. “That’s a huge group of community-college students in the next few years.”
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.