40 Exceptional Leaders Tapped For 2017-2018 Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence

April 20, 2017

Highly-Selective Program Expanding Talent Pipeline Amid Looming Shortage of Community College Presidents and Critical Need to Improve Student Success

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Contact: Millicent Bender
Program Manager

Washington, D.C., April 20, 2017 – The Aspen Institute today announced the 2017-2018 class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a highly selective leadership program aimed at developing a new cadre of 40 outstanding leaders capable of transforming student success at community colleges across the U.S.

The select group of 40 Aspen Presidential Fellows will embark on a year-long fellowship in July 2017. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative and top community college leaders, the program reflects a new vision for leadership that focuses on delivering strong student outcomes in four areas: learning, completion while in community college and of bachelor’s degrees after transfer, employment and earnings after graduation, and equitable access and success for underrepresented minority and low-income students.

“These extraordinary fellows have demonstrated the drive to improve student outcomes and equity and the capacity to lead the college-wide reforms needed to ensure that all students succeed,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “There’s an urgent need to improve student outcomes to benefit not only students, but also families, communities, and our nation’s economy.”

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 365 presidents departed their community colleges over the past year, a staggering rate of turnover. Community colleges enroll over six million degree-seeking students, including rapidly growing numbers of minority, low-income, and first-generation students. Amidst this sea of change of leadership and increasing pressures to dramatically improve student outcomes with fewer resources, community college presidents are being forced to rethink how they lead and how their colleges do business.

“It’s critical that we expand the talent pipeline to the presidency at a time of dramatic presidential turnover,” said Walter G. Bumphus, President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges. “The Aspen Presidential Fellowship is stepping up to the challenge and filling an essential need to prepare the next generation of presidents with the tools they need to raise the bar for student success.”

The Fellows were selected through a rigorous process that considered their abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements for greater student success and access.

“Fulfilling community colleges’ promise to strengthen the American economy, rebuild the middle class, and create opportunity for all students to achieve their goals takes exceptional leadership in these challenging times,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “I’m so pleased that this class of Aspen Fellows – many of whom come from Achieving the Dream institutions – will have an amazing opportunity to hone the skills that will help them become the leaders our colleges need.”

About the 2017-2018 Aspen Presidential Fellows

  • From 24 states and 38 community colleges of varying sizes, rural and urban
  • 68 percent are women, 25 percent are African American or Latino, notable given the predominance of white male presidents leading community colleges today
  • More than 40 percent hail from community colleges that work with Achieving the Dream, a national reform network dedicated to community college success and completion

Dr. Jennifer Berne, Harper College (IL)

Dr. Terri Berryman, McHenry County College (IL)

Dr. Zarina Blankenbaker, Richland College (TX)

Dr. Mary Bolt, Cecil College (MD)

Dr. Andy Bowne, Ivy Tech Community College (IN)

Dr. David Brand, Fayetteville Technical Community College (NC)

Dr. Jeff Cox, Wilkes Community College (NC)

Dr. Kevin David, Tulsa Community College (OK)

Dr. Rachel Desmarais, Forsyth Technical Community College (NC)

Dr. David Doré, Pima Community College (AZ)

Dr. Stacia Edwards, Columbus State Community College (OH)

Dr. Rhonda Epper, Community College of Denver (CO)

Dr. Karla Fisher, Arkansas State University – Beebe (AR)

Dr. Melissa Frank-Alston, Augusta Technical College (GA)

Dr. Ellen Gambino, Dutchess Community College (NY)

Ms. Felicia Ganther, Maricopa County Community College District (AZ)

Ms. DeDe Griffith, Lee College (TX)

Dr. Christina Hart, Indian River State College (FL)

Dr. Katy Ho, Honolulu Community College (HI)

Dr. Kimberly Lee, Albany Technical College (GA)

Dr. Georgia Lorenz, Santa Monica College (CA)

Dr. John Mosby, Mission College (CA)

Dr. Cynthia Olivo, Pasadena City College (CA)

Dr. Paula Pando, Hudson Community College (NJ)

Dr. Paula Pitcher, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MA)

Dr. Keith Pomakoy, Raritan Valley Community College (NJ)

Ms. Meridith Randall, Chaffey College (CA)

Dr. Steven Robinson, Owens Community College (OH)

Dr. Amit Singh, Clark State Community College (OH)

Ms. Michele Siqueiros, The Campaign for College Opportunity (CA)

Mr. Steve Smith, El Paso Community College (TX)

Dr. Mark Weber, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (WI)

Dr. Randy Weber, Johnson County Community College (KS)

Ms. Kristi Wellington-Baker, Walla Walla Community College (WA)

Dr. Jean Wihbey, Palm Beach State College (FL)

Dr. Ashli Wilkins, Wallace Community College – Dothan (AL)

Dr. Falecia Williams, Valencia College (FL)

Dr. Vicky Wood, Current: Marion Technical College (OH), July 1: Washington State Community College (OH)

Dr. Rebekah Woods, Jackson College (MI)

For bios and photos of all 40 extraordinary leaders, visit: http://as.pn/1ky

The Fellows will begin programming in July 2017 at Stanford University and meet several times throughout the year through the Spring of 2018 to learn about specific data to assess student success as well as essential elements of internal change leadership and external partnerships leaders can use to advance student outcomes.

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Siemens Technical Scholars program, the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/college-excellence.

Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative (SELI) strives to help education leaders further develop their ability to transform education systems and drive meaningful change. SELI programs bring together the strengths of Stanford Graduate School of Education and Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as additional Stanford faculty and resources, to offer multidimensional and immediately impactful professional development programming for practicing leaders in PreK-12, higher education, and policy. By fostering collaboration and building relationships between existing colleagues and among new peers, SELI programs create networks supporting participants’ continued learning and organizational improvement. For more information, visit https://seli.stanford.edu/.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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