“Carmen was always about education, “Al Castellano, her husband, told me as we worked on a sabbatical project together in 1995. Carmen had certainly proved it in her devotion and guidance to their own three children and to the children of others at San Jose City College. Here she became the founding president of the Latino Education Foundation (LEA), serving as a mentor to students and colleagues. Carmen worked at San Jose City College for 35-years, retiring in 2002 after serving as Executive Secretary to four SJCC presidents. She served as Faculty Senate Secretary; and, as David Yancey recalls, she also worked with the fledgling FA, vitally contributing to its inauguration.
In June, 2001, Al won the $141 million California lottery. One of the first acts of the lottery winners was to fund scholarships for Latino students. By the end of 2001, Al and Carmen established the Castellano Family Foundation, which has granted $6.5 million to local non-profits. The foundation focuses on the Latino community to advance education, arts and culture, leadership development, diversity and inclusion. As she joined national philanthropic boards, Carmen continued her advocacy for minorities, particularly Latinos, calling herself “the brown face of philanthropy.” In 2012, when the SJCC dedicated the Carmen Castellano Fine Arts, Center, Carmen, with her characteristic no-nonsense modesty, considered the dedication not only to her but to the unsung heroes who came before her.
Carmen was thoughtful, reflective and committed to fairness. Through the Foundation, her children now carry on her work.