Skip to content Skip to content

Van Ton-Quinlivan

Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development

download bio

Vice Chancellor Van Ton-QuinlivanVan Ton-Quinlivan is a nationally recognized thought leader in workforce development with a proven track record for implementing large-scale system change. Appointed by the governor in 2011 as vice chancellor of Workforce & Economic Development, she oversees federal and state funding that advance the workforce mission across California’s 113 community colleges, one of the largest and most complex higher education system in the nation. Her administrative responsibility has grown to $900 million from an initial $100 million in program funds as a result of her ability to inspire others toward a common, unifying vision.

Ton-Quinlivan spearheaded the ground-breaking Strong Workforce Task Force in California that shifted workforce from an afterthought to a policy priority for the state. This resulted in the governor signing the Strong Workforce Program into law along with a commitment of $200 million in on-going funds for career technical education. Ton-Quinlivan’s leadership focus on Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy ( successfully consolidated California's two apprenticeship programs, integrated the adult education systems comprised of 300+ providers, regionalized the planning of career technical education across 113 colleges and delivered on new data tools to increase transparency for colleges and students on the effectiveness of workforce programs. Ton-Quinlivan was named a White House Champion of Change in 2013 for her distinguished career in industry, education, and her service as a community leader.

Ton-Quinlivan was honored to witness President Obama sign the Workforce Innovation & Opportunities Act (WIOA) legislation in 2014, and now co-chairs of the implementation of WIOA across seven state agencies in California. Ton-Quinlivan serves on the National Advisory Committee for Apprenticeship at the behest of the U.S. Secretaries of Labor Hilda Solis and Tom Perez to provide advice and recommendations on policies affecting apprenticeship programs. Ton-Quinlivan is vice chair of the National Skills Coalition, co-chair of the Workforce Action Team of the California Economic Summit, serves on the California Council on Science and Technology and served on the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Closing the Skills Gap Implementation Team. Most recently, she participated in Tom Steyer’s Fair Shake Commission on Inequality and Opportunity in California to examine policy strategies to close the state’s income inequality gap.

Prior to her current role, Ton-Quinlivan oversaw workforce development for Pacific Gas & Electric, a large gas and electric utility company in California. She conceived, developed and implemented PowerPathway™, a best practice model program in workforce development recognized by the White House and industry. PowerPathway™ demonstrates that collaboration between industry, the public workforce system, education and organized labor can effectively help military veterans and members of underserved communities transition into well-paying energy sector jobs.

While at Pacific Gas & Electric, Ton-Quinlivan was invited to speak to the Education and Training Subcommittee of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) on the workforce needs of industry. As a business leader, she attended the first White House Community College Summit, which focused on increasing the credentialing of the nation’s workforce. She served on the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP) America’s Task Force on Future Energy Jobs and on the executive committee of the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD), a national organization formed by the trade associations of the country’s electric, gas and nuclear sectors to jointly address workforce trends. Ton-Quinlivan addressed numerous state and national conference audiences, including the first Clinton Global Initiative focused on “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” the inaugural U.S.-Canada-European Commission Trilateral Roundtable on the topic of the Employment Dimension of the Transition to a Green Economy and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). She has also testified in front of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee (

Ton-Quinlivan resides in California with her husband and two children. She holds degrees from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford Graduate School of Education and Georgetown University.