December 14, 2022

San Diego Mesa College Hires Leland Simpliciano as the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Service Institution (AANAPISI) Program Activity Manager and Grant Director

By Office of Communications

Leland Simpliciano

San Diego, CA San Diego Mesa College has named Leland Simpliciano as the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Service Institution (AANAPISI) Program Activity Manager/Grant Director in January 2023 and leading Mesa’s first five-year, $1.5 million Title III AANAPISI Grant. Mr. Simpliciano is a first-generation college graduate and a proud product of the community college system. He is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Community College Leadership at Morgan State University and holds a Master’s in Counseling (Student Development in Higher Education) from California State University Long Beach, a BA in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine, and an AA in Sociology from De Anza Community College. Simpliciano has over 10+ years of experience working in higher education.


“Leland Simplicano brings a wide range of skills, experience, and knowledge to the AANAPISI Grant Director position,” stated Dr. Pearl Ly, Dean of Social/Behavioral Sciences and Multicultural Studies. “We look forward to his contributions with leading this important initiative to support AAPI and low-income students.”


In the fall of 2021, San Diego Mesa College was awarded a Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Title III, Part F Grant titled “Equity, Empathy, & Excellence: Uplifting and Transforming Campus Culture through a Kapwa Lens” by the United States Department of Education. Mesa College was the first community college in the San Diego Region to be awarded an AANAPISI Grant. The five-year, $1.5 million grant will ensure services and resources are available to the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) student population to promote academic success and strengthen institutional capacity. The purpose of AANAPISI designation is to provide Mesa College the opportunity to improve the academic attainment of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI), Native Hawaiian, or similar identities, and low-income students.


Mr. Simpliciano’s work as a student activist and eventual professional staff at the University of California, Irvine, led to the institutionalization of the Student Outreach And Retention (SOAR) Center. He also served as the Staff Advisor looking over 400+ students under the Filipino club umbrella - Alyansa Mga Kababayan (Alliance of Fellow Filipino countrymen). In 2016, Simpliciano returned to the community college setting and worked with Los Angeles Harbor College in different roles including Asian Pacific American Student Success (APASS) Coordinator and Counselor, High School Outreach and College Promise Adjunct Counselor, and General Counseling. He has served in faculty leadership positions such as the Guided Pathways Co-Chair and Curriculum Chair while teaching various credit courses in Counseling including College Readiness, College Survival Skills from API perspective, and the Transfer Process.


As Guided Pathways Co-Chair, Mr. Simpliciano led the co-creation of 138 LA Harbor program maps and built a partnership with California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) to develop 2+2 program maps. Simpliciano also is the founding chair for the LA Community College District Asian Pacific Islander Desi (APID) Faculty/Staff Affinity Group which organizes professional development to support and advocate for the APID community. Simplicano demonstrates commitment to serving AAPI community college students and the community through his work at LA Harbor College and professional organizations both locally and nationally. He brings strong leadership skills in his college-wide work with Guided Pathways and Curriculum. Simpliciano is also very active in APAHE (Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education) and has a critical role in professional development planning.


About San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College is a fully accredited, comprehensive college committed to equity and excellence. We honor our diverse community of students, faculty, professional staff, and administrators who collaborate to foster scholarship, leadership, access, and innovation in an inclusive learning environment. By promoting student learning and achievement that leads to degrees and certificates, transfer, workforce training, and lifelong learning, we empower our students to reach their educational goals and shape their future. Among the largest community colleges in California, Mesa serves 25,000 students per year, 25% of whom are full-time. Mesa offers nearly 200 associate degree and certificate programs and is one of 15 California community colleges offering a four-year baccalaureate degree in Health Information Management. Mesa ranks as San Diego’s top transfer institution, is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI), and a Military Friendly School, serving nearly 2,500 veterans and their families.

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