Michael A. Baston, J.D., Ed.D.
Vice President, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Associate Provost
LaGuardia Community College (NY)
29-10 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
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Dr. Michael A. Baston is a highly respected educator and leader in higher education. Dr. Baston is the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Associate Provost at LaGuardia Community College. Dr. Baston has the largest student services portfolio among City University of New York’s (CUNY) 24 college system. Dr. Baston’s collaborative and participatory leadership style, successful record of creating high-quality educational programs and services for students of diverse backgrounds and strong background in enrollment management, retention and completion have earned him the respect of his colleagues throughout the nation.
As Associate Provost and member of Provost Cabinet, Dr. Baston works closely with faculty and department chairs to enhance student learning and success while strengthening the institution’s focus on the academic mission. In addition, Dr. Baston is an Assistant Professor in the Business and Technology Department at LaGuardia. He also serves as the Board Chair of the LaGuardia College Association, Inc.; Board Chair of the LaGuardia Childcare Corporation; and Board Member of the LaGuardia Foundation.
Before assuming his additional academic roles at the college, Dr. Baston was LaGuardia’s chief student affairs officer, with responsibility for providing leadership and vision through planning, policy development, implementation and assessment of the college’s programs and services that support the recruitment, admission, orientation, retention and graduation of students. Dr. Baston joined the College in 2009 as the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
Prior to joining LaGuardia, Dr. Baston served for 10 years as the Dean of Student Development and Campus Life for the New York Campuses of Berkeley College. He also served as Senior Associate of Dougherty and Associates, LLP representing Iona College, Christian Brothers Institute, Inc. and other educational corporations.
Dr. Baston holds an undergraduate degree from Iona College, a Juris Doctor degree from Brooklyn Law School and a doctorate in education in executive leadership from St. John Fisher College.
R. Edward Bowling (Ed)
Executive Director, Completion by Design – North Carolina
Guilford Technical Community College
601 East Main Street
Jamestown, NC 27282
336-334-4822 X50057 (office)
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Ed Bowling is the Executive Director for Completion by Design in North Carolina at Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) in Jamestown. Ed held a senior management position at a large bank before joining GTCC in 2006. He was an adjunct and instructor at GTCC, where he co-developed two developmental education learning communities and piloted web-enhanced developmental reading courses. He received GTCC’s Claire Hunter Award for Excellence in Developmental Education in 2007. In 2010, he became the Developmental Education Initiative grant director, overseeing the scaling of three core programs and two smaller projects under that grant.
Ed assumed his current role in 2011, providing initiative leadership and support for North Carolina’s five community colleges engaged in Completion by Design. That work provided the framework for planning and implementing guided pathways at over 40 additional colleges through North Carolina’s Student Success Learning Institute. He promotes the work of Completion by Design at many state and national conferences, including American Association of Community Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges, Jobs for the Future, and Achieving the Dream. He was awarded the BB&T Staff of the Year Award for the North Carolina Community College System in 2014.
Ed is the father to three, the husband to one, and the human to a dog named Lucy.
Kathleen C. Cleary, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Student Completion
Sinclair Community College
444 West Third Street
Dayton, OH 45402
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Dr. Kathleen Cleary serves as the Associate Provost for Student Completion at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. She serves as the Managing Project Director for the Ohio cadre of Completion by Design and project director for the U.S. Department of Education Title III grant, Connect 4 Completion. As a member of President’s Cabinet, she integrates the major student success initiatives of the college, including a Department of Labor grant to establish competency-based education and a holistic advising grant funded by the Mathile Family Foundation. Kathleen came to Sinclair in 2003 to serve as the Chair of the Theatre and Dance Department. A professional actor and director, Kathleen worked in both film and live theatre throughout Ohio and New York. She became the Dean of the Liberal Arts, Communication and Social Sciences Division in January of 2009.
Kathleen’s areas of expertise and interests include large-scale change management, academic pathways, redesigning developmental education, holistic advising, career communities, and faculty development. Kathleen completed the Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Management and Leadership in Education Institute, which was focused heavily on change management.
Dr. Darla Cooper
Director of Research and Evaluation
Research and Planning Group
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510-527-8500 ext. 253
Dr. Darla M. Cooper, Director of Research and Evaluation for the Research and Planning Group for the California Community Colleges (RP Group) has worked in the California community college system for over 15 years having previously held institutional research director positions at Santa Barbara City College, Oxnard College, and Ohlone College. She has extensive experience serving as an external evaluator for several federal and private foundation grants and leading Student Support (Re)defined, a research project that examined what supports student success. As part of Student Support (Re)defined, Dr. Cooper has been invited to present at various venues across the state including statewide conferences and college convocations to share the study’s findings and implications. She has worked on various projects including the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Bridging Research Information and Culture (BRIC), and the Accreditation Study. Dr. Cooper also has direct experience assisting students achieve their educational goals in her previous work at the University of Southern California as a director of research and information, student services counselor, and ombudsperson. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and an M.S.Ed. and Ed.D. from the University of Southern California.
Dr. Donna E. Dare, Education Consultant
1815 Barbary Way
Swansea, IL 62226
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Dr. Donna E. Dare retired from St. Louis Community College in July 2015, where she served as the district-wide vice chancellor for academic affairs. Since that time she has worked as a consultant and is currently serving as the Pathways Coach for Achieving the Dream for a grant-funded pathway project. She also is currently teaching part-time in the Higher Education Leadership Ed.D. program at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Prior to April 2014 when a reorganization resulted in splitting out academic and student affairs, Dare served as the vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. In her seven years as vice chancellor, she was responsible for the overall planning, development, coordination, evaluation and continuous improvement of the college’s academic programs and all related services and functions. She provided districtwide oversight of curriculum and assessment, online education and instructional technologies, instructional resources, institutional research and planning, international education, professional development, and workforce development. Her district-wide units of oversight also included financial aid and enrollment management. Also in her role, she oversaw the effort of the college to use Achieving the Dream and other initiatives as a catalyst for change in reimagining student success and addressing the completion agenda. Those efforts resulted in a redesigned first semester experience for all first time in college students and in ongoing redesign of developmental education. Prior to serving as a vice chancellor, she also served as the director of career and technical education at STLCC.
Between 2000 and 2005, Dare worked at Richland Community College. From 1996 to 2000, Dare worked at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as part of a national research center charged with conducting research on pathways, high school to college transitions, contextual teaching and learning, and career development. She also has taught English and education courses at a small community college, a small private university, a public university, and a corporate setting.
Dare recently co-authored, with Dr. Kay McClenney, a series of articles on academic pathways that was published in the Community College Journal in 2013. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She completed her Ph.D. in education from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2000.
Cynthia Ferrell, Ph.D.
Texas Success Center
Texas Association of Community Colleges
1304 San Antonio, Suite 201
Austin Texas 78701
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Dr. Cynthia Ferrell is the Executive Director of the Texas Success Center for the Texas Association of Community Colleges. In this position, she provides statewide leadership in building the capacity of Texas community colleges to engage in and advance student success efforts at scale; building the capacity of the Association to evaluate, support and scale college student success efforts; and developing and proposing public policy change to enhance student success.
Dr. Ferrell previously served as the Director of Student Success Initiatives at The University of Texas at Austin, which included concurrently serving as Interim Executive Director for the Texas Success Center, the National Director of Leadership Coaching for Achieving the Dream, the Director of the Board of Trustees Institute, the Director of Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Success, and the UT Director of the Governance Institute for Student Success (a partnership with the Association of Community College Trustees). In these roles, she was responsible for multiple national, state and regional initiatives that provide training and ongoing support for community college trustees, chancellors, presidents and leadership teams to implement data informed policies and practices to improve the success of all students. Prior to these positions, she was the Director of the Texas Developmental Education State Policy Initiative, supporting the Texas Association of Community Colleges and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board efforts in statewide scaling of student success innovations and establishing the state and institutional policy supports needed to improve developmental education. She has also served as the Developmental Education Program Director for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, District Director of Developmental Studies at Lone Star College and Faculty, Faculty-Advisor, and Learning Center Director at a four-year institution. She earned her Ph.D. in higher educational administration from the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin.
John S. Nixon, Ph.D.
656 Canterbury Lane
Cambria, CA 93428
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Dr. John Nixon retired as President of Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) in 2011. As an Achieving The Dream Leadership Coach, Dr. Nixon works with Los Angeles Harbor, Pierce, and East Colleges, College of Southern Nevada, Kern District’s Bakersfield, Portervillle, and Cerro Coso Colleges, Big Bend College, and Modesto Junior College. In addition, he works with Los Angeles East, Harbor and Southwest Colleges in the ATD sponsored program, Working Families Success Network.
Prior to his role with Achieving the Dream, Dr. Nixon served as President of Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC), California’s largest single-campus community college, serving over 60,000 students annually and with over 2,200 full and part-time faculty. Dr. Nixon started his tenure at Mt. San Antonio College in 2004 as Vice President of Academic Affairs. He became President of Mt. SAC in 2006 and immediately began expanding relationships and partnerships with local government, business, community, nonprofit, and educational organizations and leaders.
A 40-year veteran in education, Dr. Nixon previously served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Santa Ana College for 12 years. He also served for a year as Santa Ana’s Interim President in 1998-99 and as Associate Dean of Humanities and Assistant Dean of Continuing Education.
Involved in community affairs, Dr. Nixon has served on the board of directors for the Orange County Community Health Care Clinics, the Orange County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and the Orange County Marine Institute. In addition, he has held statewide leadership roles, including co-chair of the System Advisory Committee on Curriculum, the statewide Basic Skills Advisory Committee, as President of the California Community College Chief Instructional Officers Association, as a Board member for the Chief Executive Officers for the California Community Colleges, and as a Commissioner with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC-WASC), for which he was a consultant from 2011 to 2015, following his retirement and term as a Commissioner.
Dr. Nixon holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from University of California, Irvine, and a Ph.D. in English from University of Southern California.
Dr. Joyce Walsh-Portillo
225 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
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Dr. Joyce Walsh-Portillo earned her BA from the University of South Florida in Tampa. After graduating, she moved to Mexico City to pursue an international business career. She lived in Mexico City for twenty years, and while working there with international corporate and non-profit organizations, earned her MBA from the University of the Americas.
Upon her return to the US, she worked as an adjunct professor in Business at Broward College for three years. In 2006, she became a fulltime tenured professor at Broward. Her work with faculty development along with her management experience created a natural fit to launch and maintain a successful faculty-led outcomes and assessment team in General Education. She continued to teach Business fulltime and enrolled in a doctorate program at Florida International University. She earned her Ed.D from FIU in 2011 in Higher Education Administration. Her doctoral research revolved around first and second year community college students and is titled “The Role of Emotional Intelligence in College Students’ Success.”
Joyce moved into Higher Ed Administration at the College in 2009, developing a more fully integrated assessment process for all academic programs. She has served on a number of committees including Academic Standards, the Curriculum committee, Academic Policy and Procedure committee, Classroom Research Award committee and the Endowed Teaching Chair Awards. Most recently, she was part of the SACS-COC reaffirmation team for the College. (Broward was reaffirmed in June, 2014 with no findings.) She became the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, her current position, in 2013. Her areas of responsibility include: articulation and transfer, dual enrollment, credit for prior learning, curriculum services, data management for academic affairs, academic outcomes and assessment and the Honors Institute. She is the recipient of an Endowed Teaching Chair award (2007) and the NISOD award (2011) for outstanding service at a community college. Most recently, Joyce has been involved in the Career Pathways work and has had the opportunity to represent Broward College at venues within the state of Florida as well as at statewide meetings in New Hampshire, Indiana and Massachusetts. Joyce is married and she and her husband have one adult son.
Laura R. Rittner
Executive Director, Student Success Center
Ohio Association of Community Colleges
175 S 3rd St #560
Columbus, OH 43215
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Laura Rittner serves as Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges’ Student Success Center. In this role she oversees the OACC’s student success initiatives including grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates’ Foundation for Ohio’s Completion by Design (CbD) statewide policy work and the Driving Success Initiative (DSI). She also provides leadership to the AmeriCorps College Completion Coaches program which places 40 coaches on 16 community college campuses across the state.
Laura began working for the OACC in January 2013 as the Director of Research & Data Analysis. She previously worked for Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, OH as the Director for Institutional Research. Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Psychology from Miami University in Oxford, OH and a Master of Public Policy from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Stephanie M. Sutton
Stephanie M. Sutton
Associate Provost Enrollment Management & Student Success/Registrar
Lorain County Community College
1005 North Abbe Road
Elyria, OH 44035
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Stephanie Sutton has over 30 years of higher education experience advancing student services and success initiatives in direct alignment with Lorain County Community College’s Vision 2.0 priority one to “Drive Student Completion for Academic and Career Success.” Stephanie currently serves as the Associate Provost of Enrollment Management & Student Success at Lorain County Community College (LCCC). Stephanie is a proud graduate of the community college system and worked in various positions including Director of Financial Aid and Dean of Enrollment, Financial, and Career Services. Stephanie also serves as an adjunct faculty member at LCCC.
As Associate Provost, Stephanie provides student-centered leadership for the Enrollment, Financial & Career Services division including Counseling, Advising, Admissions, Records, Financial Aid, Student Accounts, Career Services, Disability Services, and Testing and Assessment. In addition, Stephanie serves as the campus co-lead for the college’s student success initiatives including Achieving the Dream and Completion by Design. Stephanie is the Project Director for LCCC’s CUNY ASAP replication demonstration project; Positive Reentry for Ohio Prisoners Improvement Reentry Education Grant; DASH Emergency Aid Grant; and the Lorain County United Way’s Women Engaged, Educated and Employed (WE3) Income Collaborative. Early results from the student success work include a variety of policy changes to enhance and incent student success along with a 48% increase in the number of graduates at LCCC since 2011.
Stephanie received her Associate of Applied Business Degree from Lorain County Community College. She continued her education and received a Bachelor’s of Arts from Cleveland State University graduating Summa cum Laude. She received her Master’s in Public Administration from Walden University. Stephanie is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education with a specialization in Educational Leadership and Management through Capella University with an expected graduation date of July, 2016. Stephanie has presented at the state and national level on financial aid, enrollment services, guided pathways, and student success initiatives. Stephanie also serves on non-profit Boards; served on the Ohio Department of Higher Education Multiple Measures Assessment Committee; and is a past president of the Ohio Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
Diane K. Troyer, Ph.D.
1737 Harbor Ave. SW #S-206
Seattle, WA 98126
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Dr. Troyer began her community college career at El Paso Community College as the founding faculty member in Dental Hygiene and held several associate dean and dean positions at EPCC in workforce and educational program administration including allied health, occupational programs, continuing education and business and technology. She also served as the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Harford Community College, in Bel Air, Maryland.
She joined the Lone Star College system as President of Tomball College and was selected to be the founding president of Lone Star College-CyFair, in Cypress Texas. In that role, she was responsible for the vision, planning, design, construction, program development, and hiring and community partnerships for the launch of the first college or university to open in the 21st Century.
In 2008, Troyer joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a Senior Program Officer to support the foundation’s goals to improve credential completion for low-income students. Dr. Troyer currently serves as an educational consultant through her firm (DKT Solutions) specializing on access and completion in public community colleges. She also provides consulting services to the Collaborative Brain Trust in Strategic, Academic and Enrollment Planning. She serves as Leadership Coach for Achieving the Dream and a consultant for the New Mathways Project.
Dr. Troyer has been honored as a Distinguished Graduate of the University of Texas, Community College Leadership Program. She has served in numerous community and professional leadership positions including service on the board and executive committee of the American Association of Community Colleges, Board member and President of the National Council of Workforce Education, Chairman of the Board of the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Community College Research Center Advisory Board (CCRC, Columbia University Teachers College), Board member of the El Paso and Baltimore YWCA’s and executive committee of the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation.
Educational Background: Dr. Troyer received her B.S. in Dental Hygiene from the University of Nebraska, M.Ed. in Health Education at the University of Texas at El Paso and Ph.D. in the Community College Leadership Program from the University of Texas at Austin.
Tonjua Williams, Ph.D.
Sr. Vice President, Student Services
St. Petersburg College
PO Box 13489
St. Petersburg, FL 33733
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Tonjua Williams is the Senior Vice President of Student Services at St. Petersburg College. Tonjua has held various positions throughout her 27 years of experience in higher education. Enhancing student success and the quality of their experience is one of her most treasured values. Tonjua is a recognized nationally as an expert in student development and strategic planning that transforms departments and institutions.
She holds a PhD from Barry University in Higher Education Administration with a specialization in Educational Leadership. She has participated in several leadership programs: State of Florida Chancellor’s Leadership Program, Leadership St. Petersburg, Leadership Tampa Bay, University of Florida’s Executive Leadership Program, and the American Association of Community College’s Thomas Lakin Leadership Program (for those aspiring to be college presidents).
She is a local, state, and national presenter and has served as a Retention Management System (RMS) Associate Trainer and consultant for Noel Levitz and a faculty resident for the Center for Community College Engagement (CCCSE) High Impact Practices and Men of Color Institutes. She is a motivational speaker and enjoys encouraging others to excel.
Her passion is to help others overcome obstacles and succeed in life. As a recipient of community outreach services and a member of “the village,” she understands the importance of reaching out to others and helping them realize their full potential. Being the first in her family to attend college and earn a degree, she strongly supports any initiative designed to help others understand their ability to be successful.
She is active in her community and has received many awards and recognition: Jr. Achievement Educator of the Year for Pinellas County (2011), finalist for the Tampa Bay Executive Woman of the Year, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce Iconic Woman of the Year (2013), and chosen as one of Academy Prep Center’s 5 Fabulous Females (2014).
She is a native of St. Petersburg and credits much of her success to the upbringing and training provided by her mother Willie Harris, family members, teachers, neighbors, and the wonderful relationship she has with her loving husband, Derrick Williams.