2022 Summer Council of Presidents: Speakers

Wajahat Ali

Wajahat Ali

How do we build a compassionate and inclusive America in an age of distrust? Wajahat Ali knows from personal experience that when we come together to be the superheroes of our own stories, we can create honest social change. The beloved TED speaker has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic about urgent issues, such as immigration, politics, and parenthood, with boldness, hope, and humor. His memoir Go Back to Where You Came From, one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year, follows his life as a Muslim Pakistani American on a surprising, emotional, and challenging quest for the good life. Iconic journalist Katie Couric says, “we are all so fortunate to be on the receiving end of his intellect, his humanity, and his heart.” 

Wajahat Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. The Daily Beast columnist, TED speaker, award-winning playwright, and Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series "The Secret Life of Muslims" offers us his experiences of triumph over hardship as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of life’s impossible situations. From his experiences with Islamophobia growing up as a Muslim Pakistani American to his two-year-old daughter’s liver cancer diagnosis, Wajahat is living proof that when we share our authentic stories, we build the America we wish to live in.

Sally Amoruso

Sally Amoruso

Sally Amoruso is Chief Partner Officer for EAB and serves as an extension of the Office of the CEO.

In addition to advising university presidents, provosts, and other executive leaders on campus, Sally leads EAB’s strategy research team and is a sought-after speaker—presenting to boards, executive teams, and other higher ed audiences. She leads EAB’s Presidents Advisory Council and hosts EAB’s Presidential Experience Labs, bringing presidential partners to out-of-industry exemplars such as Google, LinkedIn, and Zappos to explore models for transformative leadership outside of higher education. She also founded and currently leads EAB’s annual New Presidents Intensive, providing insights, research, and support to new college and university presidents each summer.  

Heidi M. Anderson

Heidi Anderson

Heidi M. Anderson joined the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) as the 16th president on Sept. 1, 2018. She immediately established access, quality, and opportunity as key areas of emphasis at UMES. She focuses on positioning UMES for both physical and intellectual growth, an effort that is yielding results. UMES became the nation’s first historically Black college and university (HBCU) to launch a massive open online course (MOOC) and has experienced record-breaking research funding and philanthropic efforts. Within the past three years, UMES has moved two levels in the U.S. News & World Report’s Rankings from 20th to 17th of HBCUs. 

In 2020, Anderson was named as one of The Daily Record's Influential Marylanders, which honors people who have significantly impacted vital social, economic, and environmental issues in their field and continue to be leaders in Maryland. In 2020 and 2022, The Daily Record named her to its listing of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, which acknowledges women who excel professionally, within the community, and as mentors. In 2021, the Del-Mar-Va Council selected Anderson as the recipient of the Lower Shore Distinguished Citizen Award.

Richard Bailey

Richard Bailey

Richard J. Bailey Jr. became president of Southern Oregon University in January 2022, after overseeing the resurgence of Northern New Mexico College (NNMC) during five-plus years as president. Bailey earned accolades on and off campus while at NNMC, increasing enrollment by more than 20%, cutting student loan defaults by more than 50%, and more than doubling the college’s graduation rate—all without an increase in tuition rates.

Prior to his hiring as president at NNMC, Bailey was the first-ever dean of students at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Bailey was also the associate professor of strategy and security studies. In addition, he completed a 24-year career in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a full colonel and command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours.

Bailey earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences from the U.S. Air Force Academy, his master’s degree in international affairs from Washington University in St. Louis, and his doctorate in government from Georgetown University.

Loren Blanchard

Loren Blanchard

Loren J. Blanchard became president of the University of Houston-Downtown in March 2021. He oversees the university’s historic downtown campus, UHD Northwest, and off-campus locations at Lone Star College in CyFair and Kingwood. In his first year, Blanchard unveiled strategic priorities, known as the UHD Institutional Compass, which will lead the university to four points of excellence: strengthening justice, strengthening student success and equity, supporting institutional excellence and infrastructure, and growing as an anchor institution.

Blanchard previously served as executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at California State University (CSU), the country’s largest, most diverse higher education system. He led CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025, which increased graduation rates while eliminating equity gaps and preparing students to meet California’s projected workforce needs by 2030.

A first-generation college graduate, he holds a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology education from Xavier University of Louisiana, a master’s degree in educational administration from McNeese State University (La.), and a doctoral degree in education psychology from the University of Georgia.

Sue Borrego

Sue Borrego

Over the course of her 30-year career as an innovative leader in higher education, Susan E. Borrego has remained above all else a passionate advocate for students and the individual’s ability to enact positive change. An outspoken champion for student success, Borrego understands that education opens doors and opportunities that might otherwise stay shut.

In her work with campuses as a speaker and consultant, Borrego encourages leadership to build on the talents, experiences, and resilience students bring with them, and to value their voices. In her work with institutions of higher learning, Borrego combines her unique perspective on the student experience with a practical grasp of strategic planning. She conducts and shares ongoing research into improving student learning and success, building organizational capacity, serving diverse and underrepresented students, and addressing class issues to ensure greater educational equality.

Borrego has applied her innovative approach to higher education to the work she does with public and private organizations, as well as the leaders and entrepreneurs who run them. She helps individuals and organizations alike understand and tap into their own power to transform the lives of employees, customers, and entire communities, through innovative, bold leadership that opens rather than shuts doors.

Haley Carter

Haley Carter

Haley Carter is a former U.S. Marine officer and retired professional women’s soccer player. She competed in NCAA Div I soccer at the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated with honors in 2006. After earning her commission, she served nearly eight years as a Marine Corps Logistics Officer, making two combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Between deployments, she competed for the U.S. All-Armed Forces Women’s Soccer team in the Council for International Military Sports World Championships in Ede, Netherlands in 2008 and Cherbourg, France in 2010. Haley was Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Female Athlete of the Year and finalist for Marine Corps Female Athlete of the Year in 2010.

Following Active Duty, Haley spent three seasons as a Goalkeeper for the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). In her final professional season, she was the first ever women’s player recognized with the FIFPro World Players’ Union Merit Award. Now retired from professional play, she has served as the Assistant Coach for the Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team and most recently, as the Goalkeeper Coach for the Antigua and Barbuda Women’s National Team.

In addition to her degree from the Naval Academy, Carter owns an MBA with Distinction from the University of Liverpool and a Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center.

Monique Claiborne

Monique Claiborne

Monique Claiborne is president and CEO of Greater Portland Inc (GPI), a role she assumed in 2021 after a national search. She brings 15 years of experience to GPI from her previous roles in business recruitment, government, and finance. Claiborne is leading the organization into a new era, overseeing GPI’s efforts to grow jobs and investment in Greater Portland, Oregon, and ensuring the region’s economic development strategy paves the way for prosperity for all.

Prior to joining GPI, Monique was the founder of The Kenley Group, a Portland-based consulting firm where she advised and strategized with nonprofits and municipalities nationwide. Her previous roles included legislative operations chief financial officer for the City of Detroit, business attraction manager for the Detroit Regional Chamber, and state and local tax consultant for Ernst & Young, specializing in tax credits and incentives.

Claiborne holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in international public policy from University College London. She has traveled to more than 50 countries.

José Luis Cruz Rivera

Cruz Rivera

José Luis Cruz Rivera began his tenure as the 17th president of Northern Arizona University (NAU) on June 14, 2021. Prior to joining NAU, Cruz Rivera served as president of Lehman College of The City University of New York (CUNY) and as executive vice chancellor and university provost of the 25-campus CUNY system.

A leading national advocate for policies to expand opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all students—especially those who have historically been underserved—Cruz Rivera is a frequent keynote speaker and writer on higher education issues, and he has testified several times before the U.S. Congress.

Previously, Cruz Rivera served as provost of California State University, Fullerton. He is a former vice president of higher education policy and practice at The Education Trust in Washington, D.C., and a former chief student affairs officer for the University of Puerto Rico system. He began his career as a faculty member in engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering (magna cum laude) from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez and his master’s and doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is also an alumnus of the Harvard Institute of Educational Management.

Emily Cutrer

Emily Cutrer 100x140

Emily Fourmy Cutrer was appointed president of Texas A&M University-Texarkana in January 2013. Prior to this appointment, Cutrer served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University San Marcos for more than six years, and dean and professor at Arizona State University.

Cutrer is a native Texan, born in San Antonio and raised there and in Houston. She attended Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, and later The University of Texas at Austin where she earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in American studies and began her academic career as a faculty member in American Studies and Art History. Her book The Art of the Woman: The Life and Work of Elisabet Ney (Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, Women in the West series, 1988) was awarded the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Book by a Texas Author in 1988. It was republished by the Texas A&M Press in its Ellen C. Temple Classic in Texas Women’s History Collection in 2016.

Shelly-Ann Eweka

Shelly-Ann EwekaShelly-Ann Eweka is a nationally known financial planner who helps customers reach their retirement goals, both before and after they stop working. Eweka serves as an expert on the Woman-to-Woman Community section of TIAA.org. Within the firm, she launched a group called Black Indigenous Women of Color Financial Advisors/Planners of TIAA, and she’s a member of several other organizations—including ones for Black and female employees—that create leaders and influence culture. After nearly three decades in financial services, Eweka serves the community through volunteer positions at the CFP Board and FINRA. She is also frequently quoted by news outlets, such CNBC, USA Today, Black Enterprise, CNN, and U.S. News & World Report

Andy Feinstein

Andy Feinstein

Andrew “Andy” Feinstein became the 13th president of the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) in July 2018. He has devoted a career to teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and student success, which is his top priority at UNC. 

Throughout his presidency, Feinstein has sought to enhance the fundamental characteristics and commitments that make UNC a great place to live and learn by making intentional decisions that put students first. He has recommitted the university and its leadership to design and activate new approaches that honor and celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring that UNC sustains a nurturing and supportive environment where all students, faculty, and staff thrive. 

Feinstein has worked tirelessly to ensure UNC is well positioned for future success. In fall 2019, he marshaled a collaborative process resulting in the articulation of a new vision for the university: Rowing, Not Drifting 2030.

He most recently served five years as provost and senior vice president at San Jose State University. Prior to that, he served in roles including professor, department chair, associate dean, dean, and senior advisor to the president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 

Mildred García

Mildred García

Mildred García assumed AASCU’s presidency on January 22, 2018.

As AASCU’s president, García is an advocate for public higher education at the national level, working to influence federal policy and regulations on behalf of nearly 400 member colleges and universities; serving as a resource to presidents and chancellors as they address state policy and emerging campus issues; developing collaborative partnerships and initiatives that advance public higher education; directing a strategic agenda that focuses on public college and university leadership for the 21st century; and providing professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors, and their spouses. She is the first Latina to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington, D.C.

Prior to joining AASCU, García served as the president of two minority-serving institutions: California State University (CSU), Fullerton—a nationally ranked university for its full range of academic offerings and research, the largest university in the CSU, and the third-largest university in the state—and at CSU Dominguez Hills, where she was the first Latina president in the largest system of public higher education in the country. Before her arrival in the CSU, García served as the CEO of Berkeley College (N.Y. and N.J.), where she was the first systemwide president for all six campuses. 

Gloria Gibson

Gloria Gibson

Gloria J. Gibson was appointed president by Northeastern Illinois University’s board of trustees on March 15, 2018. She assumed the role on June 1, 2018. Prior to coming to Northeastern, Gibson served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Morgan State University, one of the largest federally designated Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the largest HBCU in Maryland.

At Indiana University (IU), starting in 1995, she served as an associate professor in a variety of departments, including Afro-American Studies, Communications and Culture, and Folklore and Ethnomusicology. She also served as IU’s director of the Archives of Traditional Music as well as associate vice chancellor for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. In 2004, she went to Arkansas State University, where she was the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2009, she accepted the role of executive vice president and provost at the University of Northern Iowa, where she was also a professor (with tenure) in the Department of Communication Studies. She moved to Baltimore in 2015 for her role at Morgan State University.

Rick Gonzalez

Rick GonzalezRick Gonzalez, a native of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, has worked as a staff member in higher education for 10 years in both student affairs and university advancement at both Texas State University and The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. Since moving to Pueblo in 2017, Gonzalez has invested hundreds of hours volunteering at Southern Colorado Spay & Neuter and Adoption Clinic in the feline unit as well as Colorado State University-Pueblo. At CSU-Pueblo Rick contributes to the university by volunteering and providing administrative support to a variety of units on campus. He also hosts numerous dinners and receptions for donors, alumni, and students. Gonzalez serves as a member of the Parkview Medical Center Foundation in Pueblo, Colorado. Gonzalez and his spouse, Timothy Mottet, have two shelter cats (Emily and Birdie). They enjoy scuba diving, international travel, and exploring the music and art scene in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Bonita Jacobs

Bonita Jacobs

Bonita Jacobs is the 17th president of the University of North Georgia (UNG), which serves nearly 20,000 students across five campuses. She is the university’s first woman president and is only the second to lead one of the nation’s six senior military colleges.

In 2013, North Georgia merged with Gainesville State College to become UNG. Since then, UNG has expanded educational access, and the university has become a tremendous economic driver for the region. With a strong focus on student success initiatives and building UNG’s reputation for academic excellence, Jacobs has been named as one of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” by Georgia Trend magazine and has been recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of its “Women Who Mean Business” and among the “Top Education Leaders in Atlanta.” A recipient of multiple awards for leadership in higher education, Jacobs is a frequent speaker on mergers in higher education, and transfer and student success issues.

Jacobs received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and history and a master’s in counseling from Stephen F. Austin State University. She earned her doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University. 

Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval

Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval

Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval was appointed to serve as the ninth president of California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) in May 2021. He previously served as interim president, provost and vice president of academic affairs, and dean of arts and humanities. Prior to his administrative appointments, Jiménez-Sandoval taught at Fresno State for almost 15 years. His area of expertise is Spanish and Portuguese poetry, and he has published on authors from Cuba, Mexico, Spain, and Portugal.

Jiménez-Sandoval received dual bachelor’s degrees (cum laude), in history and in Spanish, from the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine). His M.A. and Ph.D. are in Spanish literatures, also from UC Irvine.

Jiménez-Sandoval’s leadership has been recognized in various ways. He serves on a number of boards, including the Mountain West Athletic Conference Board, University High (Fresno) Board of Directors, and California Teaching Fellows Foundation. He received the Horizon Award’s Excellence in the Arts by the Fresno Art Council in 2019, was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society in 2016, and, as a faculty member, received the Provost’s Award for Graduate Teaching and Mentoring in 2012–13.

Tressa Kelly

Tressa Kelly

The University of West Georgia’s first lady, Tressa Kelly, is a champion of finding one’s truth. She is a proponent of empowering students to find their passion—and themselves—during their university experience.

As the daughter of two educators, she always felt comfortable in the classroom, earning a Ph.D. in communication with a focus on rhetorical studies from Wayne State University (Mich.) and receiving her master’s degree in communication and a bachelor’s degree in communication and theatre arts from Eastern Michigan University.

Having taught for 24 years at the collegiate level—in an array of undergraduate and graduate courses, including public speaking, advanced public speaking, research methods, gender communication, rhetorical criticism, social movements, and intercultural communication—Kelly always felt like she belonged in higher education, what she calls the “gateway to success in society.” Being first lady aligns well with that passion, as she enjoys bridging the university and its students, faculty, staff, and alumni with the West Georgia community. Kelly has spearheaded numerous university initiatives, including the Wolfie Finds His Howl children’s book project, leadership of the Blue Coat student ambassador program, and instilling new life and inspiration into the Alumni House Flower Gardens.

Brendan Kelly

Brendan B. Kelly

Brendan B. Kelly, president of the University of West Georgia (UWG), has overseen the implementation of the institution’s Strategic Plan for 2021–2026, which draws upon the university’s 115-year history and the input and feedback of more than 1,300 students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, community members, and other stakeholders to establish a path toward long-term growth and excellence.

During his time at UWG, Kelly has led innovation in programming both inside and outside the classroom with an emphasis on creating valuable, lifelong outcomes for students. This commitment to launching or advancing each student’s career when they graduate—if not before—has resulted in students engaging in challenging, rewarding work both in class and in their chosen fields through internships, intentional mentorship, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Kelly is a practiced academic leader, previously serving in leadership roles as chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate, interim president of the University of South Carolina, and vice president of university advancement at the University of West Florida. public relations and a master’s degree in communication from Eastern Michigan University, Kelly then earned his doctorate in rhetoric and political communication from Wayne State University (Mich.).

Jay Lemons

L. Jay LemonsL. Jay Lemons became president of Academic Search in 2017, after serving for 25 years as a college president in both public and private higher education. A recognized leader in the academy, Lemons has been particularly devoted to supporting leadership talent by working with new college presidents on the faculty of the new presidents’ programs of AASCU and the Council of Independent Colleges and through the professional development programs for aspiring leaders of the American Academic Leadership Institute. This passion for working with new and emerging leaders and the opportunity to help them build teams and their institutions was what led him to accept the presidency of Academic Search. 
 
Lemons was president of Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, from 2001 through June 30, 2017, and prior to that served as chancellor of the University of Virginia’s (UVA) College at Wise, UVA’s public liberal arts college in southwestern Virginia. Both institutions experienced highly generative periods of growth and development under his leadership. He understands colleges and universities and the leadership needed to propel institutions into the future.

Lynn Mahoney

Lynn Mahoney

Lynn Mahoney serves as the 14th president of San Francisco State University (SF State). Prior to her appointment at SF State, Mahoney served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. Earlier in her career, she served as the associate vice president for undergraduate studies and interim vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies at California State University, Long Beach. Mahoney also served in a variety of leadership roles at Purchase College, State University of New York, including associate provost for integrative learning and vice president for student affairs.

Mahoney received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University (N.J.). She is the author of Elizabeth Stoddard and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Culture and has lectured extensively on the construction of whiteness in the U.S. and the construction of gender globally.

Luis Maldonado

Luis MaldonadoLuis Maldonado was appointed vice president for government relations and policy analysis at AASCU effective July 8, 2019. He aids the president of AASCU in this position by directing and coordinating activities that advance the mission of the association, serving as the direct liaison with government officials, federal agencies, and other educational organizations to develop policies and positions that support regional comprehensive state colleges and universities. Maldonado has more than 25 years of combined experience in government relations and advocacy efforts with various organizations in the Washington, D.C., region. He has worked in advocacy for three nonprofit organizations, most recently with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, in two former positions from 2002–2005 that included serving in a legislative affairs capacity and as chief advocacy officer from 2014–2019, and in senior advocacy positions with the Council on Foundations and the American Diabetes Association.

Saira Malik

Saira Malik

Saira Malik is Nuveen’s chief investment officer (CIO). In this role, she drives weekly market and investment insights and delivers client asset allocation views from across the firm’s investment teams. Malik also leads the Global Investment Committee, bringing together Nuveen’s most senior investment leaders to deliver the best-thinking and actionable portfolio allocation ideas for clients across institutional and wealth channels. As chair of the Equities Investment Council, she authors a quarterly market commentary.

Since joining the firm in 2003, Malik has held a variety of positions. Prior to being named CIO, she was head of global equities portfolio management, and before that, head of global equities research. Previously, Malik was with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, where her roles included vice president/small cap growth portfolio manager and equity research analyst.

Malik holds the CFA (chartered financial analyst) designation and graduated with a B.S. in economics from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and an M.S. in finance from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She frequently appears on financial news networks such as CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business. Malik has also been profiled in Kiplinger’s and Barron’s, which ranked her among the top 100 most influential women in U.S. finance.

Kevin McDonald

Kevin McDonaldKevin McDonald is the University of Virginia's vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion, and community cartnerships. He joined UVA after serving as the chief diversity officer and vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity, and equity at the University of Missouri System and the University of Missouri – Columbia. 

Marcus Mundy

Marcus Mundy

Marcus C. Mundy has served as the Coalition of Communities of Color’s (CCC) executive director since 2018. Prior to joining the CCC, Mundy was principal at Mundy Consulting LLC, an Oregon state certified minority small business. His practice assisted clients in various disciplines including but not limited to achieving equity, diversity, and inclusion in personnel, contracting, supplier diversity, development, and administrative areas; and achieving compliance with respect to applicable laws, regulations, and accreditation standards for health care businesses and others.

Prior to his role at Mundy Consulting, Mundy served as the president and CEO of the Urban League of Portland, was the vice president and regional compliance officer for Kaiser Permanente Northwest, and has held a host of other leadership positions.

Mundy attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., receiving his Bachelor of Business Administration, and attended Howard University’s Graduate School of Business. He received his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Oregon’s Executive MBA program. 

Felecia Nave

FNave

Felecia M. Nave is the 20th president of Alcorn State University (Miss.), where she serves as the chief executive officer of the nation’s oldest public land-grant HBCU. Nave has administrative oversight for Alcorn’s 1,700-acre Lorman campus and branch locations in Natchez and Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Prior to her appointment as Alcorn’s president, she served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina Central University, developing, managing, and providing oversight for all academic degree programs at the university.

In addition, Nave provided leadership of the existing inventory of degree programs and development of new degree programs and fully online programs, ensuring academic rigor and integrity and supervised program and accreditation reviews, both regional and specialized. She also supervised scholarship and key research activity for the university in collaboration with the associate vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. Prior to joining North Carolina Central University, Nave served in various academic and administrative roles at Prairie View A&M University in Texas.

Mel Netzhammer

Mel Netzhammer

Mel Netzhammer has served as the second chancellor of Washington State University (WSU) Vancouver since July 2012. He is passionate about growing the number of students who successfully complete their academic degrees and expanding access to higher education—especially for the underrepresented. He values campus and community engagement and has developed a number of strategic partnerships to support economic development and grow the workforce in Southwest Washington and the greater metropolitan area. 

Under Netzhammer’s leadership, WSU Vancouver developed a 2016–2021 strategic plan focused on research excellence, student success, growth, diversity and equity, and contributing to the betterment of the community. The plan is the foundation for all decision-making at the university. 

Netzhammer’s civic engagement is extensive. Locally he serves on the boards of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, Greater Portland Inc., the STEM Governance Committee for Southwest Washington and the Vancouver Public Schools’ Management Advisory Task Force. Nationally he is a member of the LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education Board and the National Steering Committee for the American Democracy Project, an initiative to advance the civic learning of undergraduates about the role of citizens in a democracy. 

Alison Nooks

Alison Nooks

Alison N. Nooks is the proud first lady of Gordon State College (Ga.). She also serves as the online academic program coordinator (OAPC) for the School of Arts & Letters (SOAL) and teaches media and communication for the Media, Culture and Arts Department. As the SOAL OAPC, she provides training and support for online teaching and works on a range of special projects. She also serves as Middle Georgia State University’s Affordable Learning Georgia Design Champion and a Momentum Champion. Nooks has more than 21 years of experience in higher education with additional years working in government and industry.

Nooks has used her skills in communication, marketing, graphic design, event planning, fundraising, and project management over her career. She has also chaired several curriculum committees; developed growth mindset training; and presented at several regional, national, and international conferences. She holds a B.B.A. in economics and an MBA in finance, both, from Mercer University (Ga.) and an M.A. in public communication from American University (D.C.). Nooks and her husband, Kirk A Nooks, have three beautiful children—a daughter who will be a junior in college this fall and twins who are rising fourth graders. They reside in Forsyth, Georgia. 

Kirk Nooks

K Nooks

A Brooklyn, New York, native, Kirk A. Nooks was appointed to serve as the president of Gordon State College (Ga.) effective June 1, 2018. His career spans both the private and public sector, which leverages over 25 years of education and engineering experience. As president of Gordon State, Nooks is responsible for a campus of over 3,000 students that has a mission of being a catalyst for exceptional and accessible education, and a vision to elevate the region’s economic prosperity.

Nooks serves on national and local boards, including The Chair Academy and AASCU’s Millennium Leadership Institute. As an author and presenter, he continues to stay active on topics that include college and university leadership, strategic planning, and the learning college.

A first-generation college student and graduate, Nooks holds a doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an MBA in marketing and a Bachelor of Science in industrial management from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He is a graduate of the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership and a member of the inaugural cohort of the American Council on Education’s Spectrum Leadership Institute. 

Timothy Mottet

Timothy Mottett

Timothy Mottet is the 15th president of Colorado State University-Pueblo. As a higher education leader, he is recognized for designing innovative learning systems that allow all students to be successful. 

Mottet has a record of success in developing high-performing educators, aligning people and processes to enhance organizational sustainability, facilitating and implementing strategic planning processes, and building consensus among diverse groups of individuals. As provost at Northwest Missouri State University from 2014–2017, Mottet worked to keep higher education accessible and affordable by developing strategic partnerships and pathways with area high schools and community colleges. 

Mottet has coauthored four books and published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. His research examines the intersections of communication, personality, and cognition and their application to instructional, organizational, and interpersonal contexts. Most recently, he has researched the communication effectiveness of pediatric trauma team members in hospital emergency rooms. 

Mottet and his spouse, Rick Gonzalez, enjoy entertaining friends, spending time with their families, exploring the French Quarter in New Orleans, volunteering at animal shelters, collecting art, and scuba diving. 

Stephen Percy

Stephen Percy

Now in his fourth decade as an educator and leader, Portland State University (PSU) President Stephen Percy has dedicated his career to fostering vibrant connections between universities and the communities they serve. An expert in public policy, administrative ethics, and urban politics, Percy is known for his ability to advance civic engagement and create innovative solutions by linking the skills and capacity of universities to the knowledge and energy of communities.

Passionate about promoting educational access for all students, Percy has been an educator and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Baltimore, where he was founding dean of the College of Public Affairs. He joined PSU to lead the College of Urban and Public Affairs in 2014, was appointed PSU’s interim president in 2019, and was named president in 2020.

Percy has authored two books about disability rights and civil rights and co-authored four books and the textbook American Government: The Political Game. At PSU, Percy has led several campus-wide initiatives, including the planning process that resulted in priorities and goals for PSU from 2016–2020.

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz is the president of Oakland University (Mich.), a doctoral research institution with more than 19,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Since becoming president, she has increased academic success, scholarship, and community engagement and has focused major efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

She is a renowned pediatric endocrinologist, an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, and an investigator who has published more than 190 papers and books.

Pescovitz’s leadership experiences include serving as senior vice president and U.S. medical leader at Lilly Biomedicines for Eli Lilly and Company and as the first female CEO of the University of Michigan’s Health System and executive vice president for medical affairs. Previously, she served as president and CEO of Riley Hospital for Children, executive associate dean for research affairs at Indiana University School of Medicine, and interim vice president for research at Indiana University.

Pescovitz earned her medical degree from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine (Ill.), where she was awarded Distinguished Alumnus Awards from both the university and the School of Medicine. She completed a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at the National Institutes of Health. She is a professor of biological sciences in the Department of Pediatrics in the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.

Darlene Repollet

Darlene Repollet

Darlene Repollet is a former corporate human resources executive of a major Fortune 500 insurance company. Her 25-year human resources career afforded her the opportunity to work with and be a trusted resource and adviser for employees, managers, and executive leaders at all levels of and within the organization.

Repollet has put her corporate experiences and skill sets to use in new ways as she has transitioned to being an entrepreneur in the real estate investment and logistics arenas. As a woman of color entrepreneur in these two male-dominated fields, Repollet has goals to develop win-win scenarios for those needing property solutions for their real estate dilemmas and to deliver goods timely and safely on the logistics side. Repollet is also passionate about serving her community. She is an active volunteer with her town’s food bank and is afforded the opportunity to serve especially girls and seniors through her membership in service-oriented organizations such as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Links, Incorporated, and the Greater Princeton Drifters Chapter of the National Drifters, Inc.

Repollet is wife to Lamont Repollet, president of Kean University (N.J.) and together they have two daughters, Lauryn and Taylor, and a dog, Rocky.

Madeleine Rhyneer

Madeleine Rhyneer

Madeleine Rhyneer leads enrollment consulting at EAB. As vice president of consulting services, she supports current and future partners as they seek solutions and best practices to succeed.

She brings a rich portfolio of admission, financial aid, and marketing communications experience to her role. Her expertise places her in a unique position to advise presidents, cabinets, and boards as they consider the interplay between these three key elements of enrollment success. Her passions are building high-performing teams, developing a culture of recruitment and retention across campuses, the strategic use of financial aid to achieve revenue goals, and serving first-generation, diverse, and low socioeconomic status (SES) students and families. Madeleine’s experience makes her a powerful partner, as does her Gallup Coach certification.

Leon Roberts

Leon RobertsLeon Roberts is approaching five years as the first gentleman for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He earned a B.A. from Transylvania University and an MBA from Xavier University. Roberts is currently retired but has over 25 years of private industry and higher education management experience. 

Ronald Rochon

Ronald Rochon

Ronald S. Rochon became the University of Southern Indiana’s (USI) fourth president in July 2018, after eight years serving USI as provost. Rochon’s academic and professional career has focused on advocating for educational excellence, access, equity, and equality. His body of work has centered on the needs of diverse learners within underserved schools and communities as well as their integral contributions to the larger society.

Rochon came to USI from Buffalo State in Buffalo, New York, where he served as the inaugural dean of the School of Education, associate vice president for teacher education, and professor. He was director and co-founder of the Research Center for Cultural Diversity and Community Renewal at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, as well as interim associate dean and director of the school of education. His professional teaching career has also included work at Texas A&M University and Washington State University.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at Tuskegee University (Ala.) and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His doctoral work was in educational policy studies, with an emphasis on educational history and policy analysis. 

Vanessa Sansone

Vanessa SansoneVanessa A. Sansone is an assistant professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Her areas of research interest focus on the influence of college affordability, Hispanic-serving institutions, and power structures and governance on the trajectories, experiences, and opportunities of historically underrepresented students. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership with an emphasis in higher education from UTSA, a Master of Education degree in higher education and administration from UTSA, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio. 

Cynthia Teniente-Matson

Cynthia Teniente-Matson

Cynthia Teniente-Matson, a San Antonio native, is the second president of Texas A&M University-San Antonio (A&M-SA), one of the fastest-growing universities in Texas and the only Texas A&M System university located in a major metropolitan city. She also serves as chair-elect on the AASCU Board of Directors. 

Since becoming president in 2015, Teniente-Matson has forged an audacious strategic plan for the university to fulfill its mission. At A&M-SA, she has led the institution’s successful transformation to becoming a designated Hispanic-serving institution and a comprehensive four-year university, welcoming the university’s first freshman class in 2016. She has led new strategic initiatives, including creation of the Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement through private funding and securing Chancellor’s Research funding for the Institute of Water Resources Science and Technology. 

Teniente-Matson has been recognized for her leadership and service in education, including receiving the Making a Mark on the World Innovation Award from the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber and the Women’s Leadership Award from the San Antonio Business Journal

Zulma R. Toro

Zulma R. Toro

Zulma R. Toro, in 2017, became the 13th president of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), the oldest publicly supported institution of higher education in Connecticut. She is the first female and first Hispanic president in CCSU’s history.

Toro has long been an avid scholar and a champion of making higher education more diverse and more inclusive. Her publications have testified eloquently about the national imperative of preparing women for careers in engineering and STEM, and she has spoken passionately about the challenges and opportunities for women of color in realizing their full potential and breaking all manner of “glass ceilings.”

Toro earned a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan, and an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from the University of Puerto Rico. Before coming to CCSU, she served as the executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Prior to that, she was the dean of the College of Engineering at Wichita State University (Kan.), the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of New Haven (Conn.), and the chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.

Ashish Vaidya

Ashish Vaidya

Ashish Vaidya has served as president of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) since July 2018. Vaidya is responsible for championing the university’s mission and core values, charting an adventurous course, and communicating the strategic priorities clearly with internal and external stakeholders.

Before joining NKU, Vaidya served a two-year term as interim president of St. Cloud (Minn.) State University (SCSU). As interim president, he served as the campus CEO and oversaw all operations and the university’s strategic direction. Prior to his tenure as interim president at SCSU, he served as the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Before SCSU, Vaidya served at two different campuses in the California State University system, where his last appointed role was special advisor to the president for regional economic development at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA). From 2010 to 2014, he served as Cal State LA’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Prior to his tenure there, he was dean of faculty at Cal State Channel Islands, where he helped build a new institution from the ground up.

Julie Virjee

Julie VirjeeA Southern California native, Julie Virjee grew up in Glendale and attended public schools. She went to University of California, Santa Barbara, where she met Fram, her husband of more than 35 years, and earned a degree in Communications and Speech. Following graduation, she began a career in publishing, first as a graphic artist and writer/editor for a variety of textbook publishers, and then as a curriculum consultant for K-12 schools. She and Fram eventually started a family with three beautiful sons, and her life revolved around the boys’ academic, athletic, and community service endeavors. She served as the PTA president of several schools and, eventually, the entire district, as well as on the Board of Trustees for the Peninsula Education Foundation. Later, she and Fram cofounded Yambi Rwanda, a nonprofit 501(c)3 dedicated to improving the lives of Rwandans through the provision of basic human needs, which she now runs. In January of 2018, Fram was appointed the eighth president of California State University, Fullerton. Julie Virjee supports Fram, the Office of the President, and all Titans to implement and enhance programs and policies that build upon the academic and inclusive excellence the university is known and revered for.

Daniel Walsh

Daniel Walsh

Dr. Daniel G. Walsh is an accomplished cardiologist with more than three decades of experience specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. He is currently affiliated with Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, and teaches at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. His academic contributions include two internal medicine teaching appointments at the University of Michigan, three cardiac and trauma life support instruction appointments, and authoring more than two dozen scholarly publications. Dr. Walsh has earned five distinct medical board certifications and he is a fellow in the American College of Cardiology. He embarked on his distinguished career after obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Georgetown University and a medical doctorate from Cornell University Medical College.

He is the partner of Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., president of Oakland University (Mich.). Together, they support student success, community engagement, philanthropy, athletics, and the arts. Dr. Walsh enjoys all aspects of campus life.

John Patrick Walsh

John Patrick WalshJohn Patrick Walsh, AASCU’s director of federal relations and policy analysis, has a wide range of experiences in government relations and federal policy development and advocacy. His professional background includes serving as the chief of staff of the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor, as director of federal affairs in the Washington, D.C., office of former Florida Governor Rick Scott, and as transition team leader for the office of former Governor Rick Scott.

Chuck Welch

Charles L. Welch 2021

Charles L. Welch serves as president of the Arkansas State University (ASU) System and as one of the state’s leading advocates for higher education. He is also chair of the AASCU Board of Directors and the program coordinator for the AASCU Emerging Leaders Program.He is the youngest person to ever serve as president or chancellor of an Arkansas community college and is the youngest university president in Arkansas.

During his tenure, Welch has hired new chancellors for all five of the system’s main campuses. He is co-chair of the executive council of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. He previously served as president of Henderson State University (Ark.), chancellor of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, vice chancellor for academic affairs at ASU-Beebe, and dean of university studies at Pulaski Technical College (Ark.). 

A native of Jonesboro, Welch was a first-generation college student and the first member of either side of his extended family to receive a graduate degree. He received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Arkansas, a master of arts degree in political management from George Washington University, and a doctor of education degree in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Alisa White

Alisa WhiteAlisa White earned a Ph.D. in Mass Communication and an M.S.L.S. degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and a B.A. in Business from Lee College (now Lee University) in Cleveland, Tennessee. In addition to her experience in Tennessee and Texas, she has held faculty and leadership positions in Alaska, Louisiana, and Georgia. White and her husband, Elliott Herzlich, a jeweler, have three married children and five grandchildren.

John Silvanus Wilson Jr.

John Silvanus Wilson Jr.

Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. is the director of the Millennium Leadership Initiative.

A former president of Morehouse College, his alma mater, Wilson brings 35 years of experience in higher education to the position – most recently as visiting scholar at Harvard Business School. He also served as senior advisor and strategist to the president of Harvard University and was president-in-residence for Harvard’s School of Education.

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