Kim Mazzuca_Program
Kim Mazzuca

Kim Mazzuca’s transformative leadership has made an indelible impact in educational equity and justice not just in Marin County, but across the Bay Area and nationally.  As a chief executive officer, board volunteer and leader, social justice advocate, and mom, she is guided by very personal and deeply held values of compassion, equality, justice, and human kindness. She firmly believes that we all share a responsibility to give to others and to help create a more loving, just, and equitable world. Kim has dedicated 40 years to supporting individuals who are traditionally underrepresented and marginalized by systemic racism and persecution.

A Bay Area native and first-generation college graduate, Kim was raised in South San Francisco by working-class parents who instilled a very strong work ethic—she and her two older siblings had part-time jobs by age 12. At a very young age, Kim’s core values were formed and strongly influenced by several key people and life-defining moments. Her earliest lessons in differences and compassion stem from her severely disabled aunt, who often faced ridicule, and her grandmother, who suffered greatly from poverty, tremendous loss, and depression. Kim’s love for learning was seeded by her exceptional first-grade teacher, an inspiring educator who was frequently arrested for protesting the Viet Nam war. Kim’s mother was a staunch advocate for the underdog, and Kim’s sister, who frequently took care of her, diligently pursued her education and career. She consistently encouraged Kim in her own educational and career endeavors.

At age 10, a traumatic bicycle accident left Kim with injuries that changed everything.  Though it was one of her life’s most difficult experiences and hardest lessons, Kim largely attributes who she is today to this event and all that she learned from the people who cared for her: family, teachers, a very kind and gentle doctor, and her grammar school friends.

Since childhood, Kim aspired to a life dedicated to education, and to working with and helping others. She attended Mercy High School, which further instilled in her the values of education, compassion, and justice. As a first-generation college student, she obtained her A.A. degree in Liberal Arts from the College of San Mateo,  and her undergraduate and graduate degrees from San Francisco State University. Kim also graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Program for Nonprofit Leaders—where she was named a fellow in 2001—and completed doctoral studies at the University of San Francisco in Organization and Leadership.  

Kim initially considered a career in physical therapy, but various work experiences redirected her toward education and counseling. In her early career, Kim developed programs for various populations, including individuals with severe disabilities, at-risk youth, dislocated workers, unhoused and homeless youth and families, emigres from the former Soviet Union, and participants in the welfare-to-work initiative. Through these experiences, Kim found education to be absolutely essential, and inextricably linked to one’s quality of life. She observed the stark difference between the trajectory of people’s careers and lives for those with and without a college degree. Kim also experienced first-hand the impact of her own college degree—how it opened doors, and changed her and her children’s life trajectory—ultimately leading her to the work she’s engaged in today. These realizations guided Kim’s three-decade career as an executive in nonprofit, philanthropic, and social justice leadership focusing on youth development, human services, workforce development, and education.

Kim served as the associate executive director of Jewish Vocational Service and as director of rehabilitation and special assistant to the founder and director for RCH, Inc. (now the Janet Pomeroy Center) where she founded the Center’s first rehabilitation division under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Then in 1999, Kim was appointed president and CEO of the Marin Education Fund (now, 10,000 Degrees). Kim saw an opportunity to evolve the organization from a scholarship provider to one capable of making a lasting, multi-generational impact for students from low-income backgrounds. The goal was to ultimately change the educational culture that traditionally perpetuated inequities between individuals from low-income backgrounds and people of color with their white and more affluent peers.  

Soon after assuming her leadership 10,000 Degrees made a transformative mission shift to serving exclusively students from low-income backgrounds. This involved a shift to need-based scholarship awards, launching efforts to reach students who didn’t envision college as an option, developing college access programs to help high school students prepare for and get into college, and forming college success support to guide students through college. These changes led the organization to help more marginalized communities get into and through college, and today that still holds true: 93% of 10,000 Degrees students are from communities of color and 92% are first-generation.     

Over Kim’s 25-year tenure at 10,000 Degrees, she oversaw the exponential growth of its annual budget to $22 million, from serving 400 students in one county to now reaching 16,000+ students and families from low-income backgrounds across eight Bay Area counties and Utah. This includes the 4,300 college students 10,000 Degrees currently supports annually through the awarding of $8 million in scholarships, assistance in accessing $42.3 million in free financial aid, and providing extended college success support. 10,000 Degrees graduation rates are also remarkable—over 80% of students starting at a 4-year institution graduate within six years, and students who start at a 2-year college attain their 4-year degree within six years at three times the national average. Key to the model’s success is the innovative Fellowship program that 10,000 Degrees founded in 2012. 10,000 Degrees alumni return to make a three-year commitment as full-time staff providing near-peer mentoring to the next generation of students.

Today, you can find thousands of 10,000 Degrees alumni in our community—working in Marin schools as teachers, counselors, and principals; within nonprofits as city council and school board members, nonprofit volunteers, and supporters; and across many industries—with many raising second-generation college students. Kim describes the impact as a growing community of good people who care deeply about creating a more just and equitable world.

Now, the leading equity scholarship and college success provider in California, the 10,000 Degrees model has been recognized by the Lumina Foundation, Growth Philanthropy Network, National Scholarship Providers Association, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, National College Attainment Network, and the NBA Foundation, among others.

Kim’s advocacy for equity took her beyond 10,000 Degrees with the first-ever Marin Educational Equity Campaign in 2003. The campaign aimed to advocate for improved educational opportunities for public high school students lacking access to secondary academic rigor,  specifically by increasing access to the basic college prep curriculum (A-G requirements) in California. Despite Marin being considered one of the top in state for educational outcomes at the time, the 10,000 Degrees-commissioned study revealed significant disparities, especially among Marin’s 9-12th grade students from low-income backgrounds and from communities of color compared to their white peers. To address this, 10,000 Degrees established Marin Educational Equity Week, a Fall event series engaging educators, community leaders, and students and attracting notable speakers such as President Barack Obama and authors like Jonothan Kozol and Cedric Jennings. Lasting six years, this initiative led to the formation of today’s Marin Promise Partnership, dedicated to convening people to achieve educational equity. 

Kim’s advocacy for equity is also nationally recognized. Kim served on the Board of Directors of the National College Attainment Network for eight years and as board president for three terms. During her tenure, she led the transformation of NCAN’s mission from college access to equity, focusing on students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. NCAN is now a 600-member organization that supports its members and influences leaders, organizations, policies, and systems across the country to increase equity and excellence in postsecondary degree access and attainment. 

Kim has served on numerous other boards and commissions: Tamalpais College (formerly, Prison University Project at San Quentin), Marin Child Care Commission, Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership, School-to-Career Partnership, and SFSU Department of Education’s Advisory Board, among others. She served on Dominican University’s adjunct faculty and is currently on the Higher Education Task Force of America Forward, a Washington D.C.-based, non-partisan policy initiative working on the country’s most pressing social problems. Kim delivers keynotes on educational equity and justice and has been a guest speaker for the USF Law School, Haas Business School, National LGBT Bar Association, and Western Association Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, among others.   

Kim has received numerous awards for her leadership, including the Visionary Marin Award (Marin Interfaith Council) for her vision, passion, and leadership in championing educational equity; Ruby Award (Soroptimist International) for her personal and professional efforts to improve the lives of women and girls; Alumni Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service (SFSU), Executive Leadership Award of Excellence (NCAN), Legislative Woman of the Year (California’s 10th Assembly District) for outstanding community leadership; and Nonprofit Leader of Year (North Bay Business Journal). 

In her personal life, Kim has championed individual and civil rights for same-sex parents. In 2000, Kim underwent a very difficult family law case when the Marin Superior Court ruled that there could be only one natural mother in the state of California. Kim lost legal rights to her two biological daughters, who had been carried by her then domestic partner. Kim relentlessly pursued her and her children’s rights through five years of grueling litigation. In 2005, the California Supreme Court ruled in Kim’s favor and same-sex parental rights, ultimately reuniting Kim with her two daughters. Today, you will often hear Kim say to 10,000 Degrees students and staff, “never give up.”

Kim lives with her life partner, Anne, in Santa Rosa with their pups Moki and Sammie.  Together they have two sets of twins Maura and Kaitlin (28 years old) and Megan and Tyler (33 years old), and one adventurous and joyful grandson, JC, who is now 2 ½ years old.  Kim and Anne love spending time with their blended family and enjoy road cycling (yes, she got back on the bike), hiking, swimming tropical oceans, and traveling when they can.