In Memory of Scott Lay

The California EDGE Coalition is saddened by the untimely passing of Scott Lay, one of our founding Board members. Together we forged a non-partisan coalition of unlikely allies, bringing business, labor, social justice, public higher education and workforce development groups together with a common focus on building shared prosperity and economic vitality. Scott lent his considerable political and social capital to that effort – helping to launch the successful coalition that continues to inform and influence workforce development and higher education policy in California today. 

Scott served on the EDGE Board from 2007 through 2012. At that time, he was the CEO of the Community College League of California (CCLC) where he led efforts with the state legislature and the Governor’s Office to increase the funding and overall support for CA’s community colleges. Scott took CCLC’s reins in the run up to and aftermath of the 2008 recession, taking advantage of the crisis to help forge unity across the CCC system and elevate the centrality of the colleges in state policy circles. His passion and drive were rooted in his own lived experience; he knew, first hand, of the challenges community college students were up against.  Scott completed his GED and found his own second chance as a student at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.  And it was from there that he emerged on the state scene as a determined student leader advocating for better policies and support for community college students.

Scott was proud of being a community college success story, graduating with his Associate’s degree in political science from Orange Coast College; earning his bachelor’s degree in political science and public policy after transferring to UC Davis; and earning his Juris Doctorate from the UC Davis School of Law. Throughout his journey he never really left the community colleges; he interned at the Community College League while at UCD. Though he went onto other pursuits after CCLC, including playing a pivotal role as an astute chronicler of state politics though the “Nooner,” Scott never lost his fierce commitment to the community colleges as linchpin institutions for fighting poverty and promoting upward mobility for Californians.

A natural bridge-builder, Scott understood the big win for students—and for California as a whole—If we could help bring the disparate post-secondary and workforce systems into better alignment. His energy, insight and sharp wit animated our board meetings. And, Scott was generous in lending EDGE the early credibility that came along with our deep and continuing partnership with CCLC.

EDGE will honor Scott’s memory by continuing our collective work to ensure all Californians have the supports they need to succeed in gaining post-secondary credentials with labor market value—and careers that provide family sustaining wages and ongoing opportunities for advancement.  Scott was among the founding Board members who crystallized our vision and launched our work.  For that we will always be grateful.

A scholarship has been established in memory of Scott Lay by the Orange Coast College Foundation where Scott attended and served as a student leader in the early 1990s.  Online gifts can be made here.  Donations by check to the Scott Lay Memorial Scholarship should be directed to the Orange Coast College Foundation; Attn: Doug Bennett; 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.  For questions about the scholarship, contact Doug Bennett at or (714) 412-1939.

All of us here at EDGE – and in the extended EDGE community – send our deepest condolences to Scott’s family and friends.

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