Meet Joaquin Rivera


An Education Leader

Joaquín Rivera lives in Berkeley and is a chemistry professor at Skyline College in San Bruno.

Joaquín has received several teaching awards for his work with students and has been a leader in many different roles.  He has served as President of the Skyline College Academic Senate and as President and Chief Negotiator of the San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT 1493, AFL-CIO.  He was also Vice-President of the California Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

Public Service

Joaquín has a distinguished career of public service.  In 1996 he was elected to the Berkeley School Board, where he served for twelve years (1996-2008).  He served three terms as President and three as Vice-President of the Board.  During his 12 year tenure on the Berkeley School Board Joaquín distinguished himself in the areas of academic quality, student achievement and fiscal responsibility.  He was a member of numerous District Committees, including the Literacy, Budget, audit and Biotechnology Partners Advisory Committees.  During Joaquín’s tenure on the Board, a great deal was accomplished.  Successes included: 

·  Balancing the budget without state intervention and strengthening fiscal accountability
·  Improving of student achievement; several schools were recognized for their achievements
·  Implementing of the District’s literacy plan
·  Holding school sites accountable for their student achievement plans
·  Providing quality professional development to make sure teachers have the skills they need to be successful in the classroom

Joaquín earned a Masters in Governance from the California School Boards Association (CSBA).  He was elected by Alameda County school board members as their representative to the CSBA Delegate Assembly.  As a CSBA delegate he was very active in many statewide committees, including the CSBA Platform Committee, the Legislative Committee the Federal Issues Council, and the Urban School Districts Council.  He also served as the Governmental Relations Chair for several state and federal legislators.

 He is also a former member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee and a former Berkeley Police Review Commissioner.


Joaquín is a graduate of University High School in Puerto Rico.  He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Sciences in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez.  He earned a Master of Sciences in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

A Vision for the Future

Joaquín’s goals for the Alameda County Board of Education include:

·  Being a strong advocate in Sacramento to oppose the budget cuts that threaten our children’s future and to secure adequate resources for our schools.
·  Ensuring districts utilize sound fiscal practices
·  Providing coordination and collaboration among school districts on critical education initiatives
·  Expanding academic opportunities in county schools
·  Helping districts adopt new strategies to close the achievement gap and improve the academic performance of all students
·  Increasing parental access to and involvement in their children’s education
·  Securing and expanding federal and state resources for our schools through grant writing


Joaquín was born in 1965 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Both of his parents, Iris Contreras and Jose Rivera, are retired public school teachers.  He has a younger brother, Victor, who lives in Puerto Rico.  He lives in Berkeley with his spouse Joel Cohen, the Policy Director for an oral health non-profit organization.

Click here to see full resume