Mae Cendaña Torlakson’s passion for providing young people with educational opportunities by building partnerships with business reflects the progressive and pragmatic leadership she brings to the issues of college affordability, environmental protection and economic opportunity.
As a manager of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, Mae Cendaña Torlakson helps educationally disadvantaged students pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Mae has served several roles at MESA since joining the University of California staff in 2000, including Program Coordinator and Manager of Marketing and Resource Development.
A longtime advocate for community parks and open space, Mae is serving her third elected term on the board of the Ambrose Recreation and Park District, which provides recreation services to 26,000 residents of Bay Point and the Oak Hills community of Pittsburg.
Mae also serves as chair of the Friends of the Delta Trail, and led advocacy efforts that secured $4.5 million for the Great California Delta Trail, which seeks to create a continuous trail network through five Delta counties while protecting sensitive habitat. She also serves as President of the Bay Point Garden Club and has been a Neighborhood Watch block captain.
Born in the Philippines, Mae sang and recorded professionally, using her earnings to pay her tuition at the University of the Philippines, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. She immigrated to the United States in 1988 and became a U.S. citizen in 1994. Mae raised two children, both of whom graduated from the University of California, Berkeley.
Mae has long been active in Asian and Pacific Islander community organizations, including the Filipina Women’s Network. The first Filipina elected to state or local government office in Contra Costa County, she was named one of the 100 most influential Filipinas in the U.S.
Mae shares her passion for public service with her husband, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who represented our region in the State Assembly and Senate before winning statewide office in 2010. They live in the Contra Costa County community of Pittsburg.