Jessica Lavariega Monforti, PhD

Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at California Lutheran University
HERS Institute Alumna, Class of HERS Institute Alum, Class of 2019

Dr. Jessica Lavariega Monforti has been serving as the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at California Lutheran University since July 20217. Since attending the HERS Leadership Institute her leadership has expanded to serving professional associations and nonprofits: such as the Western Political Science Association (WPSA), where she is serving as the 2020-2021 President; and the Ventura County’s Children’s Museum KidSTREAM, where she is serving as the Vice President. An accomplished professor and author with a research focus on the differential impact of public policy according to race, gender, and ethnicity — Dr. Lavariega Monforti is specifically interested in the political incorporation and representation of Latino/as, immigrants and women. Dr. Lavariega Monforti earned her Ph.D. and M.A. from The Ohio State University in Political Science and completed her B.A. at Florida State University in Political Science and Women’s Studies.  

Dr. Lavariega Monforti shared how the HERS Leadership Institute impacted her career trajectory – by helping her focus solely on leadership for a significant period of time and allowing her to strategize in ways she had not anticipated. She now believes she is more prepared for the next step when she is ready to take it. 

Dr. Monforti’s LinkedIn 

Dr. Monforti is a HERS Leadership Institute Alumna from 2019.  We asked Dr. Monforti to share her thoughts on how her experience at HERS has helped shape her career and lead during a crisis.


What brought you to the HERS Leadership Institute?

I applied to become a part of the HERS Leadership Institute because I had recently taken on a new position as an academic dean and needed to begin building an expanded network that included administrators. 


What from the curriculum and experience at HERS did you immediately bring back to your institution and colleagues? 

I immediately implemented two key things from HERS. First, I met with my support staff and provided clearer guidelines about my expectations, needs, and plans. Second, I started working with a coach to help me think through complicated issues and expand my leadership capacity. 


What do you value most from your Leadership Institute Experience?  

 My Leadership Institute experience continues, as the connections, we built during our time at the institute endure. This is what I value the most from my experience. 


How did HERS impact your leadership trajectory?

Attending the Leadership Institute provided me with important communication, boundary-setting, and individual planning skills that have been germane and significant in my role, especially during these challenging times. 

How relevant and important have the insights gained from Leadership Institute continued to be to your leadership development?  

Attending the Leadership Institute provided me with important information about communication, setting boundaries, individual planning that has been germane and significant in my role, especially during these challenging times.  


How did the HERS experience different than other leadership development organizations (or activities) you’ve participated in?   

It was refreshing to be part of a cohort of women in leadership, with a curriculum designed for women. It was also important to me that there was a critical mass of women of color participating in the institute. These are simply not part of the typical professional development opportunities for academic leaders. 

What advice would you give to a woman who wants to advance their higher education career but is uncertain as to when and how to do it?  

Do your research. Read, talk to people who have made the move you are thinking of making. Consult with your family and/or support network. Think about the kind of life you want to live, and see if advancement makes sense. If it does, realize that you will never think you are prepared enough – but you are! Higher education needs our voices. 


How would you describe your cohort?   

 Filled with accomplished women with a ton of potential for amazing leadership positions.