40 Exceptional Leaders Tapped for Inaugural Class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship

MBA Blog / 8th April 2016

The Aspen Institute today announced its inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship, selecting 40 extraordinary leaders with the drive and capacity to transform community colleges to achieve higher levels of student success.

Over the next decade, the majority of current community college presidents are expected to retire. Community colleges enroll over seven million degree-seeking students, including rapidly growing numbers of minority, low-income, and first-generation students.  Amidst a 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. 

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is a highly selective yearlong program to prepare leaders aspiring or recently appointed to the community college presidency. Fellows will participate in a series of innovative, action-oriented seminars and ongoing mentorship focused on a new vision for leadership, delivered in collaboration with Stanford University faculty and top community college leaders.

“This class of remarkable Fellows will expand the talent pipeline to the presidency at a time of dramatic presidential turnover and urgent need to improve student outcomes,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “These individuals are deeply committed to making a difference– they are eager to take bold action to help more students, especially those facing the greatest odds, earn credentials that reflect rigorous learning and lead to well-paying jobs.”

“Leadership development is a major focus for our colleges,” said Walter G. Bumphus, President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges. “The Aspen fellowship is essential to preparing capable and courageous leaders ready to elevate community colleges to greater levels of student success, while maintaining a commitment to access.”  

The 2016 Aspen Presidential Fellows bring a diversity of perspectives to leading transformational change in community colleges. Sixty percent of the class are women and 30 percent African American or Latino – notable given the predominance of white male presidents leading community colleges today. Over half are today working at community colleges that work with Achieving the Dream, a national reform network dedicated to community college student success and completion.

“I’m very pleased so many new Fellows are from ATD colleges where they’ve been practicing the kind of leadership that helps all students, especially those facing the greatest challenges, move through their educational journeys successfully,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “The Aspen Presidential Fellowship offers an exceptional opportunity for Fellows to build on that strong foundation.”

Fellows hail from 17 states and 30 community colleges of varying sizes. They 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. For bios and photos of all 40 extraordinary leaders, visit: http://aspeninstitute.org/pres-fellowship.

The first class of Fellows will begin programming in July 2016 at Stanford University with anticipated completion in Spring 2017. Applications for the second class will be available by September 30, 2016.

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

2016 – 17 Aspen Presidential Fellows

Lisa Armour, Santa Fe College (FL)
Marcia Ballinger, Lorain County Community College (OH)
Michael A. Baston, LaGuardia Community College (NY)
Ed Bonahue, Santa Fe College (FL)
Annesa Cheek, Sinclair College (OH)
Michelle Asha Cooper, Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) (DC)
Jesse Coraggio, St. Petersburg College (FL)
Paulette Dalpes, City University of New York (CUNY) (NY)
Diana Del Rosario, Cuyahoga Community College (OH)
Lisa Freiburger, Grand Rapids Community College (MI)
Amy Fugate, Mott Community College (MI)
Matt Gianneschi, Colorado Mountain College (CO)
Leigh Goodson, Tulsa Community College (OK)
Gayle Greene, Wake Technical Community College (NC)
Michael Gutierrez, Eastfield College (TX)
Meghan Hughes, Community College of Rhode Island (RI)
Suzanne Johnson, Suffolk County Community College (NY)
Brian Kelly, Lane Community College (OR)
Russell Lowery-Hart, Amarillo College (TX)
Mark Mrozinski, William Rainey Harper College (IL)
Morgan Phillips, Pima Community College (AZ)
Bill Pink, Grand Rapids Community College (MI)
Kathleen Plinske, Valencia College (FL)
Keith Pomakoy, Raritan Valley Community College (NJ)
Christy Ponce, Lee College (TX)
Matthew Reed, Brookdale Community College (NJ)
Lisa Rhine, Tidewater Community College (VA)
Casey Sacks, Colorado Community College System (CO)
Kim Sepich, North Carolina Community College System (NC)
Diane Snyder, Alamo Colleges (TX)
Lori Suddick, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (WI)
Brenda Thames, Modesto Junior College (CA)
Lynda Villanueva, Brazosport College (TX)
Thomas Walker, Central Community College (NE)
William Watson, College of Alameda (CA)
Kristen Westover, Patrick Henry Community College (VA)
Matthew Wetstein, San Joaquin Delta College (CA)
Karrin Wilks, Borough of Manhattan Community College (NY)
Tonjua Williams, St. Petersburg College (FL)
Monique Wilson, Cuyahoga Community College (OH)

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 New College Leadership Project, 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, visitwww.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’sEastern 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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