Julia Brownley Profile Photo

U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley to Keynote The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law’s 2019 Commencement Ceremony, March 30

SANTA BARBARA & VENTURA, Calif. – The Honorable Julia Brownley, member of the United States House of Representatives, will receive an honorary Doctor of Law degree and address The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law’s (COL) graduating Class of 2019. The Commencement ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. Rep. Brownley will be honored for her more than 25 years of public service and leadership in the local community.

Rep. Brownley began her career in public service in 1994 after deciding to run for the local school board as a way to advocate for a better education for her daughter, who had dyslexia, and other special-needs students. She won and was later elected to the California State Legislature in 2006. Rep. Brownley was first elected to Congress in 2012 to serve the California’s 26th District, which includes the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Camarillo, Newbury Park, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village.

“From the school board to the California legislature and now at the highest levels of government in Washington, I and many other Ventura County residents can attest to Congresswoman Brownley’s exemplary and responsive service to her constituents, in the past or currently, be they students, veterans, seniors, farmers, or victims of the deadly fires that swept our counties,” said Trustee Carmen Ramirez who sponsored Rep. Brownley’s honorary degree resolution to the COL Board of Trustees. “She is well deserving of this honor as a maker of laws that benefit our community.”

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Brownley serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, including as Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Health. Rep. Brownley also sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

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Graduates of the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law form new Alumni Council

For the first time in its near 50-year history, The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law (COL) has a joint Alumni Council to support the interests of its more than 2,000 graduates.

The Council formally came into existence this spring with the adoption of a charter to advance a mission of serving COL and fellow graduates through advisement, engagement, and service. Among the Council’s founders is Jana Johnston (JD, ’03) who also serves as Chair of COL’s Board of Trustees.

“Collectively, our graduates are at the heart of the Santa Barbara & Ventura legal community,” Johnston said. “While many of us remain connected, the Council offers us a platform to do so much more to support each other, plus future alumni of the Colleges of Law.”

Joining Johnston on the Council’s inaugural board are nine fellow graduates:

  • Betty Jeppesen (JD, ‘80) Co-Chair
  • Deborah Jurgensen (JD, ‘06) Co-Chair
  • Virginia Fuentes (JD, ‘14)
  • Marietta Jablonka (JD, ’15)
  • Guneet Kaur (JD, ‘15)
  • Diana Mercier (JD, ‘17)
  • Bert Partida (JD, ‘06)
  • Lacy Taylor (JD, ‘15)
  • Walter Wood (JD, ‘15)

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to serve our Colleges of Law community as well as the community as a whole,” said Jurgensen. “The more we can reach out and help others, the more others will know about the wonderful tradition of service we have at the Colleges of Law.”

Brainstorming for the Council began last summer and involved alumni from the 1970s to today.

Together they shaped a charter with a vision of:

  • Further supporting professional development and mentorship for students and alumni
  • Further strengthening the bond between alumni and COL, especially with current students
  • Engaging in strategic planning activities in collaboration with COL
  • Giving back to the community through service and fundraising activities

The charter declares

Calif. State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson to receive honorary degree and COL keynote on April 28

SANTA BARBARA & VENTURA, Calif. – The Honorable Hannah-Beth Jackson, member of the California State Senate representing the 19th Senate District, will receive an honorary Doctor of Law degree and address The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law’s (COL) graduating Class of 2018. The commencement ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. PST on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara. Sen. Jackson will be honored for more than 20 years of public service and leadership in the local community.

A former prosecutor and practicing attorney, educator, and small business owner, Jackson was elected to the California State Senate in 2012 to represent the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

From 1998 to 2004, she represented the 35th Assembly District in the State Assembly, where she worked with Democratic and Republican governors to author more than 60 bills into law. She is currently chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and serves as a member of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, and the Senate Public Safety Committee. She is immediate past chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.

“Senator Jackson is a passionate advocate for the causes in which she believes,” said COL trustee Mary Jane Miller, a long-standing colleague of Sen. Jackson. “A fearless leader, she has championed equal rights for women, protection of the environment and improving access to early childhood education. Her legislative initiatives have significantly impacted residents throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as well as the entire State of California. Her ongoing efforts to protect the rights of victims of the recent disasters are an example of her continuing commitment to our community.”

California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
California State Senator

The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law Board of Trustees elects new member

Distinguished local attorney Catherine Swysen (J.D. ’94) joins governing board of region’s leading law school focused on access, opportunity and affordability


Media Contact: Kryztofr Kaine

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SANTA BARBARA & VENTURA – Catherine Swysen is the newest member of The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law (COL) Board of Trustees. A 1994 graduate of the school’s Santa Barbara campus, Swysen joins the 13-member governance body that oversees the region’s oldest and largest independent law school.

Swysen comes to COL with nearly 25 years of experience as a practicing attorney—her areas of practice spanning criminal, death penalty, appellate, civil, and administrative. She is a partner with Sanger Swysen & Dunkle, a distinguished local firm—with offices in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria—that specializes in criminal defense and civil litigation in State and Federal courts.

“We have watched with pride Catherine’s continued contributions to the local legal community,” said COL Board Chair Marilyn Anticounti, a fellow COL graduate. “She brings to the board a stellar reputation and enthusiastic commitment to the ongoing success of the Colleges of Law.”

Swysen’s experience in governance includes board and leadership positions with the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, the Santa Barbara County Bar Association, Santa Barbara Criminal Defense Lawyers Bar Association, and Federal Bar Association. She is a recipient of the Beulah W. Engelsberg Award from the American Civil Liberties Union and was recognized by the California State Senate and the California State Assembly for Civil Liberties. Swysen was awarded the Order of the Reasonable Doubt by the Santa Barbara Criminal Defense Lawyers Association in 1999, named the “Lawyer of the Year” by the Santa Barbara Women Lawyers in 2001, and received the Richard Abbe Humanitarian Award from the Santa Barbara County Bar for her international relief work in 2009. She

What you need to know about the new Hybrid J.D. program

In the Fall of 2018 The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law (COL) will launch a first-of-its-kind hybrid J.D. degree in the state of California.