25 College Presidents Selected for Inaugural Cohort of Aspen Institute’s New Presidents Fellowship for Community College Excellence

February 5, 2020

New Leaders of Colleges Educating a Half-Million Students Tapped to Participate in Comprehensive Program to Advance Student Success

Contact: Linda Perlstein
202-339-7490 │ linda.perlstein@aspeninstitute.org

Washington, D.C., February 5, 2020 – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced the 2020-21 inaugural class of the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship, a new initiative designed to support community college presidents in the early years of their tenure to accelerate transformational change on behalf of students.

The group of 25 Aspen Fellows, who lead colleges that collectively serve more than 500,000 students, were selected from more than 100 applicants for this opportunity, which is fully funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The leaders will engage in a seven-month fellowship beginning in June 2020. Through residential sessions and other learning opportunities, the fellows, who have been college presidents for five years or less, will be supported to deepen their vision for student success, harness data to assess challenges and progress, develop strategies for internal change leadership, and create strong partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, and employers.

“We know more than ever before how community colleges actually improve outcomes for students, both in and after college,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “And the urgency for them to do so is increasing—especially for students of color and low-income students. These fellows have shown they are fully, urgently committed to excellence and equity, and we look forward to working alongside them.”

Nearly 80 percent of community college presidents nationwide plan to retire in the next decade. Through this fellowship and its other leadership programs, Aspen is committed to helping to replace those exiting the presidency with an exceptionally capable and highly diverse talent pool. According to the American Council on Education, only 36 percent of community college presidents are female, and 20 percent are people of color. The incoming class of Aspen fellows is 48 percent female, and 40 percent are people of color. Their institutions span 15 states and vary widely, from a rural college with fewer than 2,000 students to a statewide system that educates more than 150,000.

“By preparing students and workers for in-demand jobs and meeting the training needs of businesses, community colleges are critical institutions for their regions’ prosperity and development,” said Jennie Sparandara, head of workforce initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to partner with the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program to build the next generation of diverse community college leaders.”

The program for new presidents is an addition to the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, which has been serving aspiring presidents since 2016. Of the nearly 160 fellows who have taken part in the Rising Presidents Fellowship, 41 are now community college presidents, serving more than 500,000 students.

JPMorgan Chase funds the Aspen Presidential Fellowship as part of New Skills at Work, a five-year, $350 million investment to support community colleges and other pathways to great careers and economic mobility.

The 2020-21 Aspen New President Fellows 

  • Julianna Barnes, Cuyamaca College (CA)
  • Kim Blosser, Lord Fairfax Community College (VA)
  • Kevin Brockbank, Spokane Community College (WA)
  • Paul Carlsen, Lakeshore Technical College (WI)
  • Lisa Chapman, Central Carolina Community College (NC)
  • Hara Charlier, Central Lakes College (MN)
  • Jeff DeFranco, Lake Tahoe Community College (CA)
  • Sue Ellsperman, Ivy Tech Community College (IN)
  • Jose Fierro, Cerritos College (CA)
  • Gregory Haile, Broward College (FL)
  • Ivan Harrell, Tacoma Community College (WA)
  • Jessica Howard, Chemeketa Community College (OR)
  • Anthony Iacono, County College of Morris (NJ)
  • Shanna Jackson, Nashville State Community College (TN)
  • Suzanne Johnson, Green River College (WA)
  • Larry Johnson, Phoenix College (AZ)
  • Russ Kavalhuna, Henry Ford College (MI)
  • Kevin McCarthy, Renton Technical College (WA)
  • Luis Pedraja, Quinsigamond Community College (MA)
  • Greg Peterson, Chandler-Gilbert Community College (AZ)
  • Maria Pharr, South Piedmont Community College (NC)
  • Christina Royal, Holyoke Community College (MA)
  • Pamela Senegal, Piedmont Community College (NC)
  • Joianne Smith, Oakton Community College (IL)
  • Janet Spriggs, Forsyth Technical Community College (NC)

For bios and photos of all extraordinary 25 leaders, visit HERE.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices and leadership strategies that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, 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 students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org and follow us on Twitter at @AspenHigherEd.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.


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