Dr. Sunita “Sunny” Cooke began her tenure as the superintendent/president of MiraCosta Community College District in 2015 and has been a recognized CA community college CEO for 15 years. She started as a Biology/Biotechnology faculty member and has been an educator for over 28 years after receiving her Ph.D. in Biology from Georgetown University.
Under her leadership, MiraCosta College has implemented new degrees and certificates including a unique biomanufacturing bachelor’s degree. Graduation and transfer rates have significantly improved, and the college has received recognition as an Achieving the Dream Leader College. In addition, its academic and student equity programs have been recognized by the Academic Senate for CA Community Colleges. In 2016, Dr. Cooke was recognized as San Diego Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business and the NAACP Salute to Women of Color. In 2019 Dr. Cooke was named in the San Diego Top 500 list and in 2020 was recognized as the CEO Awardee for the Pacific region by the American Association of Community College Trustees.
Dr. Cooke has worked at local and state levels in economic and workforce development in Texas and California. In 2015, she chaired the Statewide Task Force on Workforce and a Strong Economy, ensuring that California state and the community college system remain vital leaders in this work. The work has resulted in an ongoing annual investment of over $250 million to enhance CA community college career education. She serves as a chair of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Strong Workforce Regional Oversight Committee overseeing planning efforts to meet the regional workforce needs over the past four years.
Dr. Cooke is an active member of the greater San Diego community and national boards, including the San Diego Regional Economic Development Council and its Inclusive Economic Development Steering Committee, Biocom CA, and the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. She serves on the executive committee of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Board, and on the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), the California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association (CCCBA), and the National Academy of Sciences Board of Science Education.