Kate Connor of Harry S. Truman College Chosen for National Presidential Fellowship for Community College Leaders


40 Aspiring Community College Presidents Will Participate in
21-2022 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship to Advance Student Success

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Kate Connor, Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs at Harry S. Truman College, is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2021-22 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selective leadership program preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.

“I am excited about this opportunity, and I am looking forward to learning from the fellowship and my peers in the program. I hope to be able to bring what I learn back to City Colleges of Chicago to further support our work in our communities across the City,” said Vice President, Kate Conner.

The Rising Presidents Fellows will embark on the 10-month fellowship beginning in November 2021. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the fellows will be mentored by esteemed current and former community college presidents who have achieved exceptional outcomes for students throughout their careers, and will learn strategies to improve student outcomes in and after college, lead internal change, and create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, employers, and other partners.

“To become institutions that truly advance social mobility and talent development, community colleges must have presidents with a clear vision for equitable student success,” said Monica Clark, director of leadership initiatives at the College Excellence Program. “We have selected these fellows because they share that commitment and are well-positioned to become transformational leaders.”

“Truman College and all of City Colleges of Chicago is transforming lives through education. We are very proud of Kate Connor for her leadership and commitment to our students. This fellowship will help to galvanize her abilities and knowledge, all in service to our students,” said Dr. Shawn Jackson, President of Harry S. Truman College.

The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship responds to the growing need for a new generation of leaders well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Nationally, nearly 80 percent of sitting presidents’ plan to retire in the next decade. While the traditional pathway to the presidency has often excluded women and people of color, the incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is composed of 68 percent women and 70 percent people of color, and represents institutions of varying sizes and locations.

Together, the 2021-22 fellows are leaders at colleges that collectively serve more than 400,000 students. As well, 67 Rising Presidents Fellowship alumni have become presidents of community colleges that collectively serve an additional 953,000 students nationwide.

2021-22 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows

Aarti Dhupelia, National Louis University (IL)

Aisha Noni Lowe, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CA)

Arlene Rodriguez, Middlesex Community College (MA)

Cedric Bradley, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MS)

Clarissa Cota, College of Southern Nevada (NV)

Cory Clasemann, Ivy Tech Community College (IN)

Denise Douglas, Lorain County Community College (OH)

Diane Stiles, Lake Area Technical College (SD)

Edgar Soto, Pima Community College (AZ)

Eric Dunker, Arapahoe Community College (CO)

George Timmons, Columbia-Greene Community College (NY)

Heather Bigard, Lake-Sumter State College (FL)

Helen Castellanos Brewer, SUNY Rockland Community College (NY)

Iris Freemon, Dallas College (TX)

Jean Marie Runyon, Front Range Community College (CO)

Jennifer Diane Eccles, Minnesota State HealthForce Center of Excellence (MN)

Jessica Robinson, Cuyamaca College (CA)

Kate Connor, Harry S Truman (IL)

Kathryn Anne Rogalski, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (WI)

Kimberly Hurns, Washtenaw Community College (MI)

Kristen Raney, Saint Paul College (MN)

Lamata Mitchell, Pima Community College (AZ)

Levy Brown, Jr., Vance-Granville Community College (NC)

Lizette Navarette, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CA)

Michelle Schutt, College of Southern Idaho (ID)

Mike Munoz, Long Beach City College (CA)

Monica Parrish Trent, Achieving the Dream, Inc. (MD)

  1. John Maduko, Minnesota State Community and Technical College (MN)

Pamela Poh-Ling Lau, Parkland College (IL)

Ryan Ross, Colorado Community College Students (CO)

Sanjay Rai, Montgomery College (MD)

Shawnda Navarro Floyd, Dallas College (TX)

Terricita Edreana Sass, Reynolds Community College (VA)

Tiffany Hunter, Clark State College (OH)

Tina Maria King, Southwestern Community College District (CA)

Tracie Sawyer Clark, Central Piedmont Community College (NC)

Uppinder Mehan, West Kentucky Community and Technical College (KY)

Van Allen Wigginton, San Jacinto College (TX)

William Comey, College of Southern Maryland (MD)

Yoshiko Harden, Seattle Central College (WA)

Harry S. Truman College, since 1976, Truman College has been a vibrant and vital part of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, delivering high-quality, innovative, affordable and accessible educational opportunities and services. It continues to grow and evolve as a premiere urban college and a generator of educations of economic value for its students. Truman serves to create a College to Careers (C2C) hub for Education, Human and Natural Sciences. It is an institution of higher education where the best teachers are teaching the teachers of tomorrow how to be the best. For more information, visit ccc.edu or call 773-COLLEGE.

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, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of students from low-income backgrounds and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org and follow us on Twitter at @AspenHigherEd.

The Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative (SELI) advances the critical cause of diversity, equity and inclusion in learning science and postsecondary education leadership.  SELI’s research practice partnership with the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has enabled faculty from the Stanford Graduate Schools of Education, Business and Engineering to host and prepare 200 Aspen Presidential Fellows to lead U.S. community colleges for student success in graduation and preparation for workforce advancement.  For more information, visit seli.stanford.edu

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, D.C., the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.