By Emily Chang
On Sept. 12, 2022, Toni DeBoni transitioned from interim Vice President for Student Affairs to Associate Vice President (AVP) for Organizational Effectiveness and Special Assistant to the President. This is a new role that combines the previously existing roles of AVP for Business Transformation & Support and Director of Strategic Operations.
DeBoni earned her B.S. in business with an emphasis in Human Resource Management and her MBA from Florida Gulf Coast University, and her J.D. from the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law. She joined CI 20 years ago as a founding administrator and has served in the Division of Student Affairs in several roles, including Manager of Budget & Staff Resources, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students and more.
The decision to work in higher education stemmed from DeBoni’s involvement during her own college education. She said, “Like many students, I am first-generation, and I had to work full-time while going to college. I found stability, mentorship, and opportunity in the various offices in Student Affairs … Much of my education complimented the work I was doing in Student Affairs and seemed to provide the perfect combination of theory and practice.”
In her 20 years at the University, DeBoni has contributed to many accomplishments and milestones. But when asked what she is most proud of, she said, “It is the way in which I have done my work and the way I have tried to honor the people I work alongside, which includes students, faculty, staff, and community members.” She believes that this approach to work is what will give longevity to her 20 years so far. “I know that if I left tomorrow, that my work product and contributions wouldn’t go away, but no one is going to remember or even be concerned with who did it, just that it was done. But the care with which I lead, managed, and served will be remembered by the individuals.“
DeBoni’s experience as an administrator in the Division of Student Affairs offers her a solid and diverse foundation for her new position. Student Affairs professionals hold a unique position that expects and allow them to “anticipate, understand, and respond to student needs. “It has helped her in “understanding the competing and shared priorities, pressure points and challenges, and markers of success.” Deboni has experienced the various issues and obstacles she will be working with, both directly and indirectly through her collaborations, which is helpful and necessary to effectively serve the campus community.
Since AVP for Organizational Effectiveness and Special Assistant to the President is a new role, it can be expected to change and evolve over time. DeBoni stated, “(The) value of this new role is the responsibility it carries to build and nurture relationships, help remove or mitigate institutional barriers, and find strategies to serve our campus community more effectively and carry out the vision of the President.”
With regard to the Office of the President, Deboni will represent and aid the President in planning and carrying out initiatives, as well as collaborate with colleagues campus-wide to develop business plans for proposed programs. For the Divisions of Business & Financial Affairs, she will manage and create goals and objectives for the Organizational Effectiveness program, including ensuring improving enterprises through identifying metrics. Along with her specific focus for each network, facilitating cross-divisional collaboration will be a continuous effort.
In the midst of transitioning, DeBoni set her current goal as gaining a sense of the new office culture and current work. This includes understanding “areas of pride, challenges, opportunities, and any other data points that will help (her) to be a strong partner.” Then she will be able to identify and initiate projects that address the priorities of both facets of her role. As DeBoni stepped into this new role, she offered some advice to CI students for the remainder of the fall semester: “On your hardest day, in the most difficult moment, think about the person you want to be. Sometimes believing in yourself must be enough; don’t wait for others to figure out what you are capable of – show them, over and over again, even when you have doubt.” Welcome DeBoni as our new AVP for Organizational Effectiveness and Special Assistant to the President, and as she builds off her 20 years at CI with a new perspective.