Meet the Trust

Julie Alexander, Miami Dade College 

Julie Alexander serves as Vice Provost of Academic Affairs for Miami Dade College. During her tenure at Miami Dade College, she also has served as co-lead for the MDConnect Campus Solutions Pillar and represents the district administration in matters relating to academic affairs. 

Prior to joining Miami Dade College, Dr. Alexander worked for the Florida Department of Education in a variety of capacities, including the vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the Florida College System. Dr. Alexander was involved in major implementation activities impacting the Florida College System such as: the creation of the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test, identification of general education core course options, developmental education reform, negotiating statewide articulation agreements and baccalaureate degree program approval. 

Dr. Alexander holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas, a Master in Education from the University of West Florida, and a Doctor of Education from the Florida State University. Previously, Julie taught art in Botswana, Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer, before moving to Texas where she was an art teacher to elementary and high school students. 

Marcia Ballinger, Lorain County Community College

Marcia Ballinger serves as the 5th President of Lorain County Community College. She has been awarded the prestigious inaugural Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence.

Dr. Ballinger is deeply engaged in the student completion movement at the state and national level serving in leadership roles for Completion by Design project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Achieving the Dream. She also has served as a Pathways Coach for the American Association of Community Colleges. 

Dr. Ballinger is currently serving on the Ohio Articulation and Transfer Network Oversight Board, Ohio Association of Community Colleges Committee and as Co-Chair of the Ohio Guaranteed Transfer Pathways Statewide Steering Committee.  She is also President of the Lorain County Community College Foundation and while serving as Vice President of the LCCC Foundation grew the organization from $12 million in assets in 2004 to over $45 million today.

Dr. Ballinger holds a Ph.D. in Education – Community College Leadership, Walden University. She is an alumnus of LCCC’s University Partnership Program having earned her MBA from Kent State University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Ballinger currently serves as the Co-chair for the Policy Leadership Trust for Student Success.

PLT Marcia Ballinger

"It helps to have an external stimulus, like a new state policy or even a national initiative, to push you. Without it, you could become complacent on campus. The policy work has helped us bring together important partners to improve student success."

Michael Baston, Rockland Community College

Michael Baston is the 7th president of Rockland Community College. He joined Rockland from LaGuardia Community College, where he served as the Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Provost. Dr. Baston also helped grow LaGuardia’s grant funding to support new and creative interventions for student retention and success, with a special focus on diverse and underserved student populations.

Dr. Baston’s work has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher EducationAtlanticDiverse Education, and Community College Times amongst others. An American Association of Community Colleges Pathways coach, Dr. Baston supports college leadership teams in integrating student success initiatives to advance college completion through guided pathways. Dr. Baston was selected as a member of the inaugural class of Aspen Institute Presidential Fellows for Community College Excellence where he explored systemic issues impacting the educational access pipeline and student success.

Dr. Baston began his career as a public interest lawyer representing various educational institutions and social justice organizations. His work with academic clients led him to pursue a second career in academia as both a professor of legal studies and business and a student affairs administrator. Dr. Baston holds a BA from Iona College, a JD from Brooklyn Law School, and an EdD from St. John Fisher College. 

Tristan Denley, University System of Georgia

Tristan Denley, PhD, serves as the chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor of academic affairs for the University System of Georgia, overseeing all matters related to academics and students. He leads student affairs and the division of academic affairs that encompasses academic programs and policy, tenure and promotion, faculty development, intercollegiate athletics, distance education, academic and public libraries, teacher preparation, accreditation, and other areas.

Before being appointed to his current role, Dr. Denley served for four years as the vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Tennessee Board of Regents. He has also served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Austin Peay State University.

While in Tennessee, he played a key role in transforming developmental education and advising at a system scale. He is known for using a data-informed approach to implement a wide variety of system scale initiatives surrounding college completion, from education redesign in a variety of disciplines, to the role of predictive analytics and data mining, cognitive psychology, and behavioral economics in higher education.

Born in Great Britain, Dr. Denley earned his PhD in mathematics from the University of Cambridge.

PLT Tristan Denley

"My feeling always has been that if we at the system office pass a policy to tell everybody 'You have to do this,' then we wouldn’t actually achieve any change. Instead, by working with people at colleges to create a powerful wave of consensus around what works, people made very significant changes because they knew it was the right thing to do. We told people that once the right way became clear, then we would enshrine that in policy afterwards, just to make sure that we didn’t go backwards with a new wind."

Leigh Goodson, Tulsa Community College

Leigh Goodson, PhD, serves as the fourth president and chief executive officer of Tulsa Community College. Dr. Goodson has strong ties to education, having served previously as a university faculty member, university administrator, and school board member for Tulsa Public Schools. She is passionate about student success.

Dr. Goodson serves on the board of directors for the YMCA of Greater Tulsa and the Oklahoma Innovation Institute. She is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma class XXIII and Leadership Tulsa Class 35. She has served as chair of the Education Task Force for the Tulsa Regional Chamber One Voice initiative as well as on its Board of Directors. She has a special interest in creating a pipeline for students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Dr. Goodson was a member of the first class of Aspen Presidential Fellowship Program, and under her leadership, Tulsa Community College was selected as one of 30 institutions nationwide to participate in the AACC Pathways Project. 

Dr. Goodson earned a PhD in education research and evaluation from OSU, a master's degree in organizational communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, and a bachelor's degree in political science from OSU.

David Harrison, Columbus State Community College 

David Harrison, PhD, is president at Columbus State Community College. During his tenure, he has focused the college around goals for student success and attainment, workforce innovation, and civic engagement. In 2012, Columbus State was named an Achieving the Dream college, a national initiative to help more students earn college credentials with an emphasis on first-generation students, students of color, and low-income students. Additionally, in 2015, the college received Achieving the Dream's esteemed designation as a Leader College.

Dr. Harrison came to Columbus State with extensive experience building successful community partnerships. As vice provost for regional campuses at the University of Central Florida, he worked with community colleges to create the Central Florida Higher Education Consortium and the nationally recognized DirectConnect to UCF program, which guarantees the opportunity for a bachelor's degree for graduates of partner community colleges.

Prior to joining UCF, Dr. Harrison served in leadership roles at Seminole State College in Florida and Sinclair Community College in Ohio and was a consulting manager with Accenture in Pittsburgh. 

He holds a PhD from Ohio State University, a master's degree in business administration from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh, and a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Dayton.

Jennifer Haygood, North Carolina Community College System

Jennifer Haygood has served the NC Community College system since 2008 in various roles. Currently, as executive vice president and chief of staff, Haygood is responsible for overseeing the internal operations of the System Office and creating a fully integrated, highly performing System Office team that supports the System's mission 

While contemporaneously performing her duties as System Office chief of staff, Haygood served as acting president of the NC Community College System from October 2017 through May 2018. She also served eight years as the System's CFO, from September 2008 through October 2016, leading the division responsible for managing approximately $1.5 billion in state, federal, and tuition funds that support the state's 58 community colleges and the System Office. 

Prior to working for the NC Community College System, Haygood worked for the Fiscal Research Division of the NC General Assembly and the Juvenile Education Services department of the NC Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. 

Haygood earned a master's degree in public policy from Duke University and received her undergraduate degree from Rice University. Prior to returning to graduate school, she was a Teach for America corps member and taught elementary school in inner-city New Orleans. Haygood serves on the College Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors, State Employees' Credit Union Audit Committee, and the Duke University MPP Alumni Advisory Council. When she’s not working, Haygood likes to travel, hike, enjoy time outside, and spend time with friends and family.

Jack Hershey, Ohio Association of Community Colleges 

Jack Hershey is the president & CEO of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC), which represents the presidents and trustees of the state’s 23 community colleges.

Hershey came to the OACC in 2014 after spending 10 years at Ohio State University, where he most recently was the university’s associate vice president for state relations, a position in which he managed state government affairs for the university.

Hershey was a leader on successful collaborations by all state colleges and universities to produce a unified approach to funding for both capital and operating budgets for campuses statewide. Both models were endorsed by Governor John R. Kasich and were supported by large bipartisan majorities in the Ohio General Assembly.

Earlier in his career, Hershey was deputy director of the Office of Budget and Management under former Governor Bob Taft and was director of finance and a financial analyst in the Ohio House of Representatives under former Speaker Jo Ann Davidson.

A Cleveland-area native, Hershey holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy management from the University of Akron. 

Maria Hesse, Arizona State University

Maria Hesse, PhD, serves as vice provost for academic partnerships at Arizona State University, helping to create and sustain productive relationships with community colleges and other organizations. Prior to joining ASU in 2009, Dr. Hesse served as president and chief executive officer for Chandler-Gilbert Community College, one of the Maricopa Community Colleges in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Dr. Hesse holds a PhD and a master's degree in educational leaderships from Northern Arizona University and a master's degree in business administration from Arizona State University. She is also a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Educational Management. Dr. Hesse has served as a consultant to other colleges from Florida to California and is active in a number of nonprofit organizations in the community.

Jon Kerr, Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges 

Jon Kerr serves as director of basic education for adults for the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. Prior to joining the SBCTC, he was dean of instructional programs and library director at Lower Columbia College in Washington State. There, he pioneered the first Academic I-BEST program and administered ELL, ABE, high school, and GED programs aimed at moving underskilled adults, out-of-school youth, and non-native English speakers into family-supporting jobs. His initial work with Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) was as founding Director of I-BEST for the Pierce College District. 

Building upon that experience, Kerr has become a champion for accelerated educational pathways and has been active at state and national levels in promoting the initiative and providing trainings. He has also been instrumental in developing On-Ramp to I-BEST programs in the nation as well as I-BEST for Developmental Education. 

Kerr holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in education and theatre from Central Washington University.

Kenneth Klucznik, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities 

Kenneth Klucznik, PhD, serves as transfer & articulation co-manager for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system office, as well as professor of English at Manchester Community College. 

In August 2014, after 25 years of teaching English, Dr. Klucznik began a leave of absence to co-manage the implementation of Connecticut’s Transfer and Articulation Policy for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities. The system implemented the policy in fall 2016, and it now comprises 22 major transfer pathways that provide 120-credit degree pathways for students to complete baccalaureate degrees by first completing a transfer degree at a Connecticut Community College.  

In his time as a faculty member at Manchester Community College, Dr. Klucznik served in a number of leadership positions, as well as on statewide committees for general education and transfer. He holds a baccalaureate degree from Bates College and a PhD in comparative literature from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. 

Michael Leach, Arkansas Community Colleges

Michael Leach is the executive director of the Center for Student Success at Arkansas Community Colleges. The Center supports Arkansas's two-year colleges in adopting institutional innovations aimed at improving and supporting student success. 

Mr. Leach has developed and managed a variety of institutional reform projects in partnership with Arkansas's two-year colleges, including a statewide TAACCT grant and the nationally recognized Arkansas Career Pathways initiative. He also has been an adjunct instructor for American National Government at Pulaski Technical College since 2003. 

Mr. Leach has extensive experience in public policy development and advocacy, working as the government relations director at Southern Bancorp, a community organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, and a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Harris Wofford.

PLT Michael Leach

"State policy can provide supportive infrastructure for the guided pathways work, whether it’s through better connecting K–12 to the pathways work, financial aid policies that give students the resources they need to go to college, or child care and food stamp policies that help students go to college—performance funding that gets college to think about something other than how many folks they are going to get in their seats in the fall semester."

Russell Lowery-Hart, Amarillo College 

Russell Lowery-Hart, PhD, current serves as president for Amarillo College, a Leader College for Achieving the Dream. His leadership focuses on improving student success through systemic and cultural change. In his career, he created several institution-wide initiatives targeting a systemic approach to poverty, curricular reform, instructional improvement, and partnership development across campus silos. 

Dr. Lowery-Hart was selected into the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a rigorous executive leadership program led by the Aspen Institute and the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative. Dr. Lowery-Hart served as the chair for the Amarillo "No Limits/No Excuses" Partners for Postsecondary Success Collective Impact—a 21-organization collaborative focused on education certificate and degree completion leading to living wage employment. 

He served as the chair for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee charged with evaluating and redesigning the state of Texas general education requirements.

Dr. Lowery-Hart previously served as vice president of academic affairs for Amarillo College. He was named the National Council of Instructional Administrators Academic Leader of the Year for 2014. He received his PhD from Ohio University, a master's degree from Texas Tech University, and a bachelor's degree from West Texas State University. 

While his calling is education reform, his passion is family. His wife, Tara, and children, Christopher, Campbell, and Cadence, fill his life with beauty and joy. 

Sharon Morrissey, Virginia Community College System

Sharon Morrissey, PhD, serves as the vice chancellor for academic services and research in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), where she is responsible for state-level coordination of academic programs, student success initiatives, research and reporting, and related policy review and professional development for Virginia’s 23 community colleges. 

Dr. Morrissey leads initiatives to increase student success outcomes across the VCCS, including development of policies for alternative placement measures, math pathways, credit for prior learning, improved transfer outcomes, and dual enrollment redesign.

Prior to joining the VCCS, Dr. Morrissey served as the executive vice president for programs and chief academic officer for the North Carolina Community College System. She led several systemwide student success initiatives, along with leading a revision of North Carolina’s statewide articulation agreement between the 58 community colleges and 16 public universities to ensure transfer students’ success. 

In previous community college roles, Dr. Morrissey served as president of Richmond Community College, vice president for instruction at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, and vice president for academic and student services at Fayetteville Technical Community College. She began her community college career as an English instructor at Central Carolina Community College. 

Camille Preus, Oregon Community College Association

As Executive Director of OCCA, Camille Preus, PhD, represents all 17 of Oregon's community colleges as the primary voice on legislative and regulatory issues at the state and federal level, advocating state-level leadership for student success efforts and fostering partnerships to further community college interests.

Prior to Dr. Preus's role as executive director of OCCA, she was president of Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC), serving Morrow, Umatilla, and Baker counties in Oregon. With service centers in Pendleton, Milton-Freewater, Boardman, Hermiston and Baker City, BMCC serves more than 8,000 students and is recognized as a preferred provider of workforce training for businesses across the district.

Dr. Preus also serves on numerous regional/national boards that champion and advocate for increasing opportunity for postsecondary education. A few of note include: American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Presidents Academy Executive Committee, the AACC Advocacy Advisory Committee, Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corp. (current chair), Eastern Oregon Women’s Coalition, Greater Eastern Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee (convener), and the Eastern Oregon Workforce Board. 

Prior to her appointment as president in 2013, Dr. Preus held leadership roles in Oregon in community colleges & workforce development at both state and local levels. She also has private-sector experience as a chemist and quality control manager with United States Steel. 

Dr. Preus graduated from Cumberland College and Middle Tennessee State University, both in Tennessee, earned a master's degree in business administration from Indiana University, and received her PhD in community college leadership from Oregon State University.

Madeline Pumariega, Florida College System

Madeline M. Pumariega is the former chancellor of the 28 colleges that make up the Florida College System, which serve more than 800,000 students. Recognized among the top in the nation, the Florida College System is committed to maintaining the highest quality programs to meet Florida's growing workforce needs and to make sure college is accessible and affordable.

Appointed as the first female, Latina chancellor in August 2015, Chancellor Pumariega has worked to build on successes of the Florida College System. Her goal is to ensure that all students have a pathway to complete their degree or professional credential that leads them to their academic goals and ultimately helps them get a job.

A product of the college system herself, Pumariega began her academic career at Miami Dade College and returned to the college where she spent 20 years growing her career culminating as president of the Wolfson campus. At Miami Dade, she is regarded for her work in developing innovative approaches to support academic progress and student success, ensuring that thousands of youth can access and complete college. Pumariega was instrumental in supporting workforce programs by leveraging key partnerships in the community.

Before becoming chancellor, Pumariega served as president of Take Stock in Children, a statewide nonprofit focused on breaking the cycle of poverty through education. Take Stock in Children has helped more than 25,000 students living in poverty successfully complete high school and move into postsecondary education and careers.

Pumariega is a member of the Florida Prepaid College Board, Higher Education Coordinating Council, Florida Council of 100, The Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University, City Year Miami, and an advisory board member of the Florida College Access Network. She was a Kellogg Fellow for the League for Innovation’s Expanding Leadership Diversity in Community and a graduate of Leadership Florida Class 33.

Peter Quigley, University of Hawai'i Community Colleges

Peter Quigley, PhD, serves as associate vice president for academic affairs for the University of Hawai'i community colleges. He is responsible for academic program planning, evaluation and assessment; course and program articulation; regional accreditation; federal higher education and workforce development issues; and collaboration with external agencies.

He also has served as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and chancellor at Leeward Community College.

Prior to coming to Hawai‘i, Dr. Quigley served as dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Minnesota State University and as dean of academics/chief academic officer at Embry Riddle University.

PLT Peter Quigley

"We’re educating people at a cost that they can’t afford, and they take out loans for jobs that aren’t there in many cases. So, you get your bachelor’s degree and end up coming back to the community college for an industry-relevant certificate. We need to keep this in mind as we move forward. It’s not just pathways. It’s not just success. 'Success at what? Pathways to where?' is the real crucial policy question that we have to wrestle with."

Scott Ralls, Wake Tech Community College

Scott Ralls, PhD, is the new president of Wake Tech Community College. Recently, Dr. Ralls left his presidency at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), which serves approximately 70,000 students. NVOA is ranked the 15th largest and 9th most diverse college in the United States. NOVA awards more information technology associate degrees than any community college in the nation and is home to one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing cybersecurity programs.  

In May 2016, Dr. Ralls was named President Emeritus of the North Carolina Community College System after a 20-year career that included roles as state system president, vice president of Economic and Workforce Development, and president of Craven Community College. 

Known as an innovator in workforce development, Dr. Ralls led the redesign of North Carolina’s customized job training programs, as well as the overhaul of statewide college degree structures and financing to foster stackable industry certification models and prioritize STEM, health care, and technical education programs. 

Four times in recent years, he has testified to U.S. Senate and House committees on workforce development and student success innovations. Dr. Ralls currently serves as the co-chair for the Policy Leadership Trust for Student Success.

PLT Scott Ralls

"Is policy in your face or at your back? Either way it blows, we need to recognize its impact. Community colleges need to be front and center in state policy conversations about economic opportunity."

Karen Stout, Achieving the Dream

Karen Stout, PhD, is president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., which leads a growing network of community colleges that is innovating efforts around redesigning student success, developing zero textbook degrees, and teaching and learning. 

Previously, Dr. Stout served as president of Montgomery County Community College for more than 14 years, during which time the college earned numerous national awards for innovation. Dr. Stout serves on several national boards, including College Promise National Advisory Board, Campus Compact, and the President’s Advisory Board to the Community College Research Center. 

She has served as a commissioner with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and in several leadership capacities with the American Association of Community Colleges.

She is a frequent speaker and writer. She holds both a PhD in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in English from University of Delaware and a master's degree in business administration from University of Baltimore. 

Randall VanWagoner, Mohawk Valley Community College

Randall VanWagoner, PhD, is the fifth president of Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC), a position he has held since July 2007. He currently is serving his second term as chair of the New York Community Colleges Association of Presidents, a position he has held since 2015.

Dr. VanWagoner came to MVCC after serving as the chief academic officer at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, and the chief student affairs officer at Red Rocks Community College in Golden, Colorado. He has been instrumental in the development of the national Strategic Horizons Network of community colleges and serves as the co-facilitator of the Network, focused on learning about disruptive innovation and vibrant organizational cultures outside of higher education.

He received his graduate degrees from the Higher Education program at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and his bachelor's degree in communications from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He was also a two-sport athlete at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. 

Tonjua Williams, St. Petersburg College

Tonjua Williams, PhD, is the seventh president of St. Petersburg College. A St. Petersburg native, Dr. Williams began her tenure with the college in 1986, rising through the ranks in a variety of academic and administrative roles.

Prior to becoming president, Dr. Williams was senior vice president for student services from 2013 to 2017. She has served in nearly every area of the college: provost, associate provost, director of special programs, program coordinator, academic advisor, recruiter, senior accounting clerk and adjunct faculty.

Dr. Williams earned a PhD in higher education administration from Barry University, a master's degree in counselor education from University of South Florida, and bachelor's degrees in business administration and humanities from Clearwater Christian College.

In 2016, Dr. Williams was awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, making her part of the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellows. She is a graduate of Leadership Tampa Bay, Leadership St. Pete, the Chancellor's Leadership Program, and the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Florida.