Olive-Harvey College to Share Equity Best Practices and Lessons Learned at Upcoming Community College Conference


This spring, the far South Side is getting ready for its share of far-reaching attention.

Six Olive-Harvey College faculty and staff members, including President Kimberly Hollingsworth, will present their work in academic program development and student inclusion at the 2023 American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) annual conference on April 3, 2023, in Denver, Colorado.

In a morning session titled “CannaBliss – Growing an Equity-Centered Urban Agriculture Department,” Olive-Harvey leaders will share how the college’s cannabis certification program provides an equitable and sustainable career pathway to the cannabis industry for students who have often encountered barriers in the field. Olive-Harvey’s program is the first of its kind to be approved as an accredited associate degree in Cannabis Studies in the state of Illinois. The session will be led by Dr. Kimberly Hollingsworth, Olive-Harvey College president; Dr. Brandon Nichols, senior vice president of Academic and Student Affairs; and Akilah Easter, dean of the Urban Agriculture Department.

“It’s an honor to share our unique approach to cannabis education with a national community college audience,” President Hollingsworth said. “The work we’re doing in urban agriculture at Olive-Harvey seeks to empower and educate our students through an equity lens, while preparing them for in-demand career opportunities.”

Later on April 3, members of the Olive-Harvey student services team will share information about their work to cultivate a trauma-informed, culturally sensitive college community in a session titled “Nobody Wants to Be Here: Trauma informed DEI Strategies.” The afternoon session will be led by Patrice Henderson, director of the Olive-Harvey College ACCESS Center; LaTia Lane, clinical director of the Olive-Harvey College Wellness Center; and Michelle Adams, dean of Student Services at Olive-Harvey College.

The college recently renewed its commitment to removing barriers to inclusion for LGBTQIA+, Latinx, and disabled students. The session will share how the college implemented faculty and staff trainings and holistic retention strategies to create a more inclusive environment.

“Being able to share what we’ve learned and implemented at Olive-Harvey College with our session’s attendees has the potential to change school cultures across the country,” said Patrice Henderson. “Our experience can serve as an excellent example of how colleges can best respond to student data to make real strides toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

City Colleges is grateful to all of our employees involved in this critical work. From developing innovative programs to ensuring our students experience true inclusion, our faculty and staff are making a difference.