Adrian Rodriguez, who has held the seat since 2013, said he will not be running for re-election.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Gomel a set of questions about his candidacy. His answers have been edited for publication style.
1. Why did you decide to run for the Collin College board of trustees?
For over a decade my family has benefited as residents of Collin County, and all four of my children have attended Collin College. I want to pay back to the community with my time, experience and knowledge to enhance the opportunity for others to participate in higher education. I’ll share what I’ve learned with the next generation of students and influence the direction the college takes as we enter the next decade.
I ran for the board in 2017 and have learned quite a bit more about the college over the last two years. By attending the board meetings since that time, I’ve gained insight into the role of a trustee and in what’s required of them. As Collin College continues to grow, as evidenced by the building of new campuses and population growth in the county, it’s an exciting time to help shepherd our progress into the future.
2. What experience do you think prepares you for serving on the board?
My educational background includes a bachelor’s of science in history and humanities and a master’s of arts in teaching (Jacksonville University). I’m a continuous learner and obtained a project management master’s certificate and a graduate certificate in total quality management and most recently started work on a Ph.D. in human resource development.
My work experience includes 20 years with the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve plus 20 years with companies such as Capital One; Insight; Crossmark; and most recently as the founder of The Gomel Group, an IT consultancy. In addition, I serve as the executive director with a 501(c)(3) called Agile for Patriots, a program that provides training and certification for military veterans and their spouses for careers in information technology.
From a volunteer perspective, I’ve had the pleasure to graduate from the Leadership Plano program last year and take on the following roles: Plano Youth Leadership board member, NPower Regional Advisory board member, North Texas ISSA board member, Plano ISD Career & Technical Education Advisory member, Collin College Cybersecurity Advisory Committee chair and Collin College Computer Systems/Web & Mobile Applications Advisory member.
One of the areas I’m most excited about is the approval—during the December board meeting—of the Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) in cybersecurity degree. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the creation of the program as a community representative and to share the perspective of business in what skills we need from the students that graduate from this program. My goal as a trustee is to continue to work in sharing the needs of our business community in such a way that Collin College meets their needs for an ever-changing workforce.
3. Do you support the school marshal program? Why or why not?
Collin College has taken a serious approach to improve security on the campuses and as one element has chosen to move forward with developing a policy to implement a school marshal program. Since the board approved the plan to proceed in December 2018, I’d suggest looking at a blended approach with parts of the School Marshal Plan and the School Safety Training (Guardian Plan), which would allow for the carrying of a weapon on the person of the marshal in lieu of keeping it in a locked box.
This is a sensitive issue and has had a great deal of community feedback; the goal now is developing a policy that takes these considerations into view and preserves the goal of being one component within a very large, overall security program that serves to protect those that work and study at Collin College.
4. How do think Collin College can address workforce needs in the area?
While all the priorities called out in the Collin College Master Plan are important, the one that strikes me as the most pressing is “Add Workforce and Academic Programs to Align with Projected Collin County Labor Market Needs.” Determining how we’re going to maintain focus on scaling the growth of Collin College to align with where the county is headed while balancing the other initiatives will call for a level of governance that is challenging.
When working with my clients in dealing with similar issues of prioritizing projects across a portfolio of desirable goals, I ask them which will truly make a difference in the survival of their company. While Collin College isn’t faced today with making an organizational life-or-death choice, there should be a sense of urgency in preparing now for the needs of the county in the future. One of the reasons businesses are locating to our area is the quality of the workforce, and by maintaining a focus on this outcome, we’ll prepare ourselves for this desired growth.
5. What else do you want voters to know about you?
My experiences, both in the military and private sector, have shown me that by listening to what the people you support say, you’ll become a better leader. The role of a leader is to provide a shared vision that brings people together to work toward a common cause. My contribution is a sounding board for the community and to allow their voices to be heard. A servant leader cannot exist by only providing for their own needs but by being a unifying force to allow the public to be served. I look forward to being such a voice and making a difference for our Collin College.
I’m a strong believer in the purpose of the college and have been a Collin College Foundation donor and creator of a scholarship for students. I will continue to advocate for the needs of our students, and having learned firsthand with my own children, we must strive to create an environment where they can thrive academically.