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Dammi Herath Joins Tompkins Cortland Board of Trustees

January 19, 2012

Dammi Herath of Ithaca has been appointed to the Tompkins Cortland Community College Board of Trustees. Herath was appointed by the governor's office to a term that expires June 30, 2018. She replaces Beverly Baker, who had served on the board since 1997.

Herath is the executive director of the Women's Opportunity Center, a non-profit organization in Ithaca with the goal of helping individuals with their job search and training goals. Herath has led the Women's Opportunity Center since 1989, and has seen what the College can mean to some of the people she serves. "When I was asked to serve on the board I was excited to be part of a dedicated group that makes a difference in our community by providing people a second chance," said Herath. "A majority of the women we serve at the Women's Opportunity Center come to us with only a high school diploma. The College has changed many participants' lives by providing them a great education. "

After obtaining a law degree and working as the executive director of an international research institute in her native Sri Lanka, Herath came to Ithaca in 1980 to further her education at Cornell University. She earned a master's degree in 1984 and her Ph.D. in 1986, both in Adult and Continuing Education. She worked as the assistant director of the Cornell South Asia Program from 1986 to 1988 prior to taking over at the Women's Opportunity Center.

In her 22 years at the Women's Opportunity Center, Herath has often worked closely with Tompkins Cortland to help her participants. Her connection to the College, however, goes back to when she first arrived in the area, and is more personal than professional. "When I came to Ithaca with my family in 1980 to study at Cornell, Tompkins Cortland Community College was the only college we could afford for my husband, Wije," she said. Wije earned his degree in hotel technology from Tompkins Cortland and now the two own and operate Sri Lankan Curry in a Hurry, a food business at the Ithaca Farmers Market since 1990.

Herath is extensively active in the community, already serving as a board member of Tompkins County Workforce and the Cayuga Medical Center. She says she's ready to help the College continue to serve the community. "The final outcomes of both the College and the Women's Opportunity Center programs lead low-income families in our community towards their economic independence," she said. Her serving on the College board "is a great match."

The Tompkins Cortland Community College Board of Trustees consists of 10 members, including a student trustee elected by the student body. The governor appoints four trustees, two each from Tompkins and Cortland Counties; the Cortland County Legislature appoints two; and the Tompkins County Legislature appoints three.