Henry Sandate is the newest member of the college’s Board of Trustees. Appointed after the resignation of Bob Drummond earlier this year, Sandate brings with him a positive attitude and a prolific level of public service experience.
Sandate had been considering running for a school board position when he heard that the Board of Trustee position became available. After a presentation and interview with the existing board members, Sandate was given the position. Sandate says he was offered the position very shortly after his meeting with the board and was very excited about the opportunity.
“It was amazing … it’s a very important position,” Sandate said. “Johnson County Community College is … an important institution and I’m very honored to be the trustee that was appointed.”
Some of Sandate’s most notable public service work has been with the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association. As chairman of their board Sandate has worked to help revitalize the blighted community that was once classified as a food desert.
“It’s a primarily Hispanic community and I’m Hispanic,” Sandate said. “I grew up in Topeka and a lot of my relatives live in a community like that, so when I was asked to be a part of that board ten or 12 years ago it appealed to me because I just believe there’s a need to help folks in that situation…”
Sandate has worked with a number of different organizations, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Arts Council of Johnson County, Menorah Medical Center, SafeHome, the Housing Authority of Johnson County and El Centro Wyandotte. Sandate says part of what draws him to public service is the example that his father set for him. His father came from a large family and was a migrant worker who traveled across the Midwest before settling in Kansas and becoming a barber. Sandate remembers times growing up that his father would help migrant workers passing through town.
“You’d have migrant workers come through town and all of a sudden they have their bus broke down and my dad took it upon himself to find out what the issue was and recruit people; a mechanic to fix their truck, we’d put up beds in the school and get people to come together to cook meals, feed them for about three or four days and send them on their way,” Sandate said.
Sandate’s appointment to the Board of Trustees makes him the first Hispanic trustee in the college’s history. He made a point of this in his presentation to the Board before his appointment, highlighting the point that he understands what it’s like for students who didn’t have family before them that had a college education.
“Everybody wants to be able to be at the table, be able to be a leader in this community, be able to contribute,” Sandate said. “It comes down to a lot of times they don’t know how or it’s just kind of awkward. It’s not a familiar feeling with them, so they’re a little bit intimidated. I think I can bring some of that expertise and some of that personal experience that I had going through those challenges — being the first.”
On becoming acclimated to college and the Board of Trustees, Sandate says everyone he’s encountered so far has been helpful.
“Everybody has been just receptive and also eager just to get me up to speed and understand what the challenges are or concerns are or opportunities are to move the college forward,” Sandate said. “President Joe Sopcich and his staff have been unbelievable in how they’ve been continually communicating with me and just making everything easy and getting me up and running.”