Chandra White is the remarkable Facilities Manager at Lick-Wilmerding.
White began her work at Lick-Wilmerding in 2010 as the Administrative Assistant of Facilities, which was then headed by Dan Depweg. Depweg “played a large role in fostering team spirit,” White says. Her emphasis on team spirit throughout the facilities department seems to be imperative to its growth and success. She notes, “Our department isn’t like a revolving door; there are long-standing, profound relationships with everyone on the team; most of the staff (all but two) have been here since I began.”
The department —which manages all aspects of the physical plant, including reception, custodial, and maintenance — is made up of 14 people, impressive growth from the team of two at its inception in the 1990s. The team consists of White, Justin Victa, Mike Brooks, Tito Buckner, Stanley Chu, Ryan Daniel, Molly French, Mario Gonzalez, Nicholas Hom, Sander Leung, Carlos Magana, Mark Wallace, Gerald Washington, and Alexander Wolf.
White has previously held positions at other California schools, such as the Culinary Institute of America at St. Helena, San Francisco Friends School, the Urban School of San Francisco, the Nueva School in Hillsborough, Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, and Head-Royce School in Oakland, before working at Lick-Wilmerding. “Lick’s adult community has by far been the warmest and most inclusive environment I’ve ever worked in as far as schools go,” she says. “The position here isn’t like one at any other school.” Her experience at Lick has been “tumultuous,” as the department has changed a lot in her six years of service, whether it has been in size or management or the different areas it covers.
White and Depweg started together at Lick as Sodexo employees. At the time, Lick outsourced its facilities management to Sodexo, a huge international corporation that provides food and facilities services to all sorts of institutions. When Lick-Wilmerding ended its contract with Sodexo, the school offered the facilities employees a job at Lick-Wilmerding; White stepped in as our facilities Manager. (Depweg had become ill.) White and her team became official members of the Lick-Wilmerding community.” White, Temple admires, is “very thorough, cool and calm under pressure. It’s very easy to talk to her and she’s very direct. She has a huge loyalty to the school and she’s a rock-solid person.” Temple notes that White’s nature has always been modest and that she’s always preferred that the spotlight be on her team rather than herself.
“Lick has one of the best facilities departments,” says Temple. “Everything is very service-orientated and everyone in the department is very friendly and willing to help everybody. They work hard, they’re kind people, and their work is excellent. The school is well-cared for under them.”
The Center, Lick’s student-life association, also works with White and her team to make sure that the events that are hosted run smoothly. “The Center is responsible for all student-life events and making sure they happen. But without the facilities team, we couldn’t do anything,” comments Christy Godinez. “Facilities doesn’t always get the credit for what they do because they work behind the scenes.” The facilities team’s work has aided in Lick’s success with its partnered organizations, whether it be the Youth Art Exchange or Aim High Programs. “I have so much respect for that crew. We often spend weekends working with them, and they make working and life so much easier with their pleasant spirits and willingness to get down and dirty with whatever we need.” For the five years since they’ve worked closely, White and Godinez have collaborated to make sure these partnerships acquire all of their required resources and don’t cause conflicts within the school.
“[White] pushes to serve not only communities at risk, but also communities that don’t have the same resources as we do at Lick,” says Godinez. “Chandra’s just a great example of a leader who cares for her team and wants to see them grow in a variety of capacities. She’s very down-to-earth, and I respect that so much about her.”
Melanie Johnson, Lick’s Chief Financial Officer, works directly with the facilities team by running facilities reports and meeting with White weekly. “Chandra really looks after the best interest of others and her colleagues, her staff, and the school,” says Johnson. “She has great respect for other people, and I believe that she cares deeply for her team and their development. From what I can tell, they really enjoy and appreciate her leadership style. She’s very real.”
White leaves Lick-Wilmerding at the end of June this year. She explains, “I’m leaving to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Working at Lick has made me realize how hungry I am for my own education.”