Trailblazers in Higher Education

University and college leaders preparing the next generation.

City & State presents Trailblazers in Higher Education

City & State presents Trailblazers in Higher Education University at Albany; NYC Kids RISE; The New School

From campus protests to record donations, few sectors have garnered as many headlines recently as higher education – which only illustrates how vital New York’s colleges and universities are to both its economy and its political landscape. On campuses across New York – from Buffalo to Brooklyn – post-secondary leaders are modeling in real time how to respond to geopolitical controversies, navigate an increasingly digitized environment and support stakeholders through challenges like this year’s financial aid application snafu.

It’s not an easy job – especially in an era of shrinking enrollments and shifting student priorities. But the professionals on City & State New York’s 2024 Trailblazers in Higher Education list exemplify how New Yorkers are meeting the challenges, and then some. They represent diverse corners of the industry: presidents, professors and provosts, but also lobbyists, lawyers, nonprofit entrepreneurs and advocates.

Thanks to their efforts, enrollments are up at many schools, along with state investment in key engines of mobility like the Tuition Assistance Program. New initiatives are lifting up underserved communities and creative initiatives are responding to the evolving needs of both employers and the workforce.

Here, a look at the 100 professionals who are keeping New York at the fast-paced forefront of higher education.

John Alfonso

Partner and Not-for-Profit and Education Industry Leader, CohnReznick

For decades, colleges, universities, museums and other institutions have sought financial counsel from accountant John Alfonso, a partner at the financial advisory and accounting firm CohnReznick in Manhattan. He leads the firm’s nonprofit and education practice, which provides audit, tax, accounting and financial advisory services to more than 1,700 organizations nationally. Alfonso is also a three-decade volunteer with the American Cancer Society, having chaired its national board of directors.

Victor G. Alicea

President, Boricua College

Puerto Rico native Victor Alicea is the founding leader of Boricua College, having championed the Hispanic-serving institution since its 1974 establishment – which makes him New York’s longest-serving college president. Alicea grew up in East Harlem and earned a doctorate at Columbia University, where he taught urban planning before taking on the challenge of leading a new, bilingual college catering to his fellow Latinos. Nearly a half-century later, his vision is amply realized in Boricua’s affordable, highly personalized education across three New York City campuses.

K.L. Allen

Vice President, Northeast Region, Western Governors University
K.L. Allen / Chris Davey

Since 2020, K.L. Allen has steered the regional expansion of the 27-year-old Western Governors University – most recently as regional vice president for the Northeast, leading operations across 12 states from Maine to Virginia for the online institution. Allen joined as director of WGU’s central region and chancellor in Ohio, where he boosted enrollment by 60%. He brings an entrepreneurial sensibility to his role, having earned a master’s of business administration and a doctorate in educational leadership, taught college-level business and served in various entrepreneurship and advocacy posts.

Horace E. Anderson Jr.

Dean and Professor of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
Horace E. Anderson Jr. / Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

Under Horace E. Anderson Jr., Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law has increased its enrollment, donations, full-time faculty and partnerships with leading universities worldwide. Anderson, an intellectual property and technology law specialist who joined the faculty in 2004, recently established the Sustainable Business Law Hub, a research incubator devoted to global sustainability. The school now boasts the nation’s top-ranked environmental law program, according to U.S. News & World Report. Anderson also strengthened social justice and community ties through the new Pace Access to Justice Project.

Edward P. Antonio

Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Marist College
Edward P. Antonio / Carlo de Jesus, Marist College

It’s perhaps only natural that a theologian like Edward P. Antonio, steeped in philosophy and human striving, should become an authority on social justice. Having created and led the Office of Diversity at the Iliff School of Theology in Colorado, Antonio served as chief diversity officer at Concordia College before coming to Marist College, where he is the inaugural vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. The author of books on African theology, Antonio brings his instructor’s instincts to the campus trainings he leads around intercultural and sexual differences, inclusion and conflict resolution.

Don Applyrs

Senior Director, Strategic Engagement, NAF
Don Applyrs / Shawn Gomes Photography

Known as “Dr. Don” at NAF, the nonprofit where he directs strategic engagement, Don Applyrs orchestrates partnerships that open futures for disadvantaged students. With his help, NAF collaborates with hundreds of high schools nationally to provide career-focused academies that boast 99% graduation rates. Applyrs, a former urban public school principal with a doctorate in education, has led pandemic-era workforce development initiatives at the state Department of Labor, and his previous roles with the state Education Department include grant administration for its My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

Jennifer Ball

Vice President, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access, Clarkson University

As a historian of gender and sexuality, Jennifer Ball is particularly well-positioned to appreciate diversity, equity, inclusion and access – the areas under­ her purview as a vice president at Clarkson University, where she is also a longtime humanities professor. As the school’s DEI chief, Ball brings her deep knowledge of social issues to her efforts in civil rights compliance and inclusivity. She has received multiple grants for her work in bystander intervention as well as a community action grant from the American Association of University Women.

Monica Barrett

Member, Bond, Schoeneck & King
Monica Barrett / Ron Jordan/Natoli Photo Studio

Attorney Monica Barrett is a member at the New York City office of Bond, Schoeneck & King, where she co-chairs the firm’s higher education practice group. She is also an active member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, which honored her with its Distinguished Service Award in 2021-22 – and at whose annual conference she recently presented on managing student activism around the Israeli-Hamas war. Barrett previously held general counsel roles at Rutgers University, SUNY and Barnard College, among others.

David Belsky

Founder and CEO, Good Rebellion
David Belsky / Good Rebellion

At Good Rebellion, founder and CEO David Belsky provides strategic consulting and public relations for educational and other mission-driven organizations. Belsky previously spent a decade managing integrated marketing for the State University of New York. Later, at the Fund for Public Schools, which supports the New York City Department of Education, he built and led a new communications department. Last year, Belsky was honored with the Young Alumnus in Public Administration Award from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany, his graduate alma mater.

Charles Bertolami

Dean, New York University College of Dentistry
Charles Bertolami / NYU Photo Bureau

Charles Bertolami, a former president of the American Dental Education Association, is the longtime dean of New York University’s College of Dentistry. His tenure has seen the opening of the NYU Pain Research Center to pioneer opioid alternatives, a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide low-cost care, the launch of several leadership institutes and an annual symposium on health equity. He has also introduced first-of-its-kind robotic dental implant training. Bertolami holds a doctorate in medical science from Harvard University, where he previously served on the dental faculty.

Erik J. Bitterbaum

President, SUNY Cortland
Erik J. Bitterbaum / SUNY Cortland

In over two decades at the helm of SUNY Cortland, Erik J. Bitterbaum has driven transformative changes. Among Bitterbaum’s accomplishments are a nearly $300 million overhaul of its campus located in the Finger Lakes region, including a green-friendly residence hall and a new science complex. Bitterbaum has also seen dramatic increases in the diversity of the school’s student body, an increased commitment to volunteerism and partnerships with the local community aimed at boosting economic development and civic engagement.

Tom Blum

Associate Vice President for Institutional Research and Government Relations, Sarah Lawrence College

Few people know Sarah Lawrence College as intricately as Tom Blum, who has served the Westchester school in a variety of leadership roles since 2005. He is currently associate vice president for institutional research and government relations, a role in which he advocates before policymakers, coordinates legal representation and tracks key statistics like admissions, retention and outcomes. Blum, who is also secretary of the Sarah Lawrence board of trustees, previously served as vice president for administration and, prior to that, worked in planning at New York University.

Elma Borčilo-King

Senior Director of State Relations and Community Affairs Adviser, University of Rochester
Elma Borčilo-King / Crystal Figueroa Photography

Seasoned higher education advocate Elma Borčilo-King heads state government relations and serves as community affairs adviser for the University of Rochester, the largest employer in upstate New York, representing 33,000 workers. She led the effort to secure $50 million in state funds – a university record – for the university’s Strong Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, as well as a new line item in the state budget to fund the university’s mental health initiative. Borčilo-King previously directed government affairs and public policy for the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

Donald R. Boomgaarden

President, St. Joseph’s University
Donald R. Boomgaarden / Jorg Meyer

Since 2017, Donald R. Boomgaarden has led St. Joseph’s University of New York through a period of expansion. Most notably, he steered the institution from its designation as a college to its accreditation as a university. Boomgaarden has also increased St. Joseph’s endowment by 50%, unveiled a $17 million student center and added myriad new academic programs. A concert pianist and music historian by training, Boomgaarden was formerly the provost at the University of Scranton and dean of the College of Music and Fine Arts at Loyola University New Orleans.

Lola W. Brabham

President, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York
Lola W. Brabham / CICU

More than 100 of New York’s higher education institutions are represented by Lola W. Brabham, who serves as president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York, an influential Albany-based organization. Brabham assumed the post in 2021 after a quarter-century in public service – including, most recently, as commissioner of the state Department of Civil Service. With CICU, she has led successful advocacy to expand the state Tuition Assistance Program, invest in campus improvements and mandate universal FAFSA applications.

La Tasha Brown

Director of Community Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
La Tasha Brown / Brian Styk

Having navigated higher education across the United States, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom, La Tasha Brown brings a global perspective to her role overseeing community relations at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Brown, who holds a doctorate in comparative cultural studies, joined RPI as director of multicultural programs in 2022 and has since nurtured diversity through myriad identity-based programs and support services. She previously served as the inaugural manager of the Shirley A. Chisholm Center for Equity Studies at SUNY Empire State University in Brooklyn.

Susan Burns

President, University of Mount Saint Vincent
Susan Burns / University of Mount Saint Vincent

Susan Burns was an accomplished administrator at Clarke University and Morningside College – but as president of the University of Mount Saint Vincent, she has taken on her highest-profile assignment yet. This year, she successfully steered the college to its new university status and was recognized with the Woman of Distinction Award from the Bronx borough president and My Sister’s Keeper Bronx. Burns, a psychologist, also recently authored the timely textbook “Psychology of Sex and Gender.”

Dara N. Byrne

Dean, Macaulay Honors College
Dara N. Byrne / City University of New York

CUNY veteran Dara N. Byrne was chosen in 2022 to lead the system’s Macaulay Honors College, where she presides over a top-ranked, tuition-free institution with soaring rates of both applicants and student diversity. Byrne had already proven her leadership skills as undergraduate dean at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she raised $15 million and, as associate provost for undergraduate retention, increased the graduation rate by 16%. She joined the John Jay faculty in 2003 as a professor of rhetoric and intercultural communication, and was awarded the college’s first Distinguished Teaching Prize.

Michael Cassidy

Partner, Brown & Weinraub
Michael Cassidy / Timothy H. Raab & Northern Photo

At the top Albany law and lobbying firm of Brown & Weinraub, state government veteran Michael Cassidy is known for his involvement with higher education policy. A trustee of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York, he chairs its council of governing boards. Cassidy is also a trustee of Maria College and an advisory board member for the University at Albany's Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, his graduate alma mater. He previously served as then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s assistant director of state operations.

Anne Clancy

National Executive, Higher Education Strategy, T-Mobile
Anne Clancy / De Anda Photography

What’s a higher education leader doing at a phone company? If you’re Anne Clancy, you’re partnering the telecommunications company with universities to ensure students keep up with a digitizing education landscape. Clancy, T-Mobile’s national executive for higher education strategy, holds a master’s degree in online teaching and business along with a doctorate of education. She has held leadership roles at City Colleges of Chicago, founded the Oral Health Forum and worked as a manager at the American Dental Association – perspectives that inform her role connecting the business world and the business of learning.

Melissa Clarke

New York Policy Director, uAspire
Melissa Clarke / uAspire

Melissa Clarke’s background at the intersection of politics and social work informs her work as New York policy director for uAspire, a nonprofit that champions financial and educational opportunities for underserved students. Her recent wins include successful advocacy to expand financial aid access through the universal FAFSA, as well as to increase income eligibility and award minimums with New York’s Tuition Assistance Program. Clarke has served as a policy associate for The Children's Defense Fund-New York and, prior to that, worked for the New York City Charter School Center.

Daisy Cocco De Filippis

President, Hostos Community College
Daisy Cocco De Filippis / Naugatuck Valley Community College, NVCC

Daisy Cocco De Filippis, a groundbreaking Dominican American writer and scholar, has led Hostos Community College through a period of challenges and opportunities – including a recent $15 million gift, the school’s largest donation ever. Having returned in 2020 to lead Hostos through the pandemic, De Filippis, who had been provost until 2008, recently celebrated rising enrollment, the newly opened Hostos Research Center and the college’s selection as a Top 10 finalist for the national Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. De Filippis previously served as president of Naugatuck Valley Community College in Connecticut.

Faith C. Corbett

Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs and Partnerships, City Tech

Faith C. Corbett has spent a little over a decade at City Tech, CUNY’s designated technology college, where she is responsible for the 17,000-student institution’s strategic partnerships, career services and community engagement. In her role, the former city and state legislative staffer has forged key partnerships with tech and workforce innovation firms. Corbett is also a member of the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, a collaborative group of business and community leaders and academic officials seeking to spur economic growth in partnership with state government.

Anthony W. Crowell

Dean and President, New York Law School
Anthony W. Crowell / New York Law School

As dean and president of New York Law School, Anthony Crowell brings an insider’s knowledge of New York City government and a first-generation student’s enthusiasm for education. His dozen-year tenure has included the launch of the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as the Plumeri Center for Social Justice and Economic Opportunity. Crowell has also introduced a new curriculum and experiential learning programs. A longtime teacher of state and local government law, he previously served as counsel to then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Anthony Davidson

Dean, School of Professional and Continuing Studies, Fordham University
Anthony Davidson / Fordham University

As dean of Fordham University’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies, Anthony Davidson has overseen the rollout of industry-oriented programs at three New York campuses and online – including graduate credentials through the new Real Estate Institute and an allied health division. Davidson, a scholar of management, has also orchestrated Fordham’s academic and corporate partnerships in England, China, South Africa and the Dominican Republic. He previously served as the founding dean of New York University’s School of Professional Studies business programs and founded the School of Business at Manhattanville University.

Sharon DeVivo

President, Vaughn College
Sharon DeVivo / Vaughn College

Sharon DeVivo has shepherded Vaughn College in Queens for nearly three decades, the past one as president and CEO. She guides a Hispanic-serving institution dedicated to upward mobility for its 1,600 students, most of whom are first-generation students as well as new Americans. DeVivo, who holds a doctorate of education from the University of Pennsylvania, counts both affordability and employability as cornerstones of her success at Vaughn: 98% of the college’s graduates are employed or continuing their education within a year of graduation.

Dennis Di Lorenzo

Executive Director, RIT Certified, Rochester Institute of Technology
Dennis Di Lorenzo / Grant Taylor

Alongside the Rochester Institute of Technology’s more traditional degree programs, Dennis Di Lorenzo champions workforce education through RIT Certified, the employer-focused skills training initiative where he serves as executive director. Di Lorenzo, a former dean at the New York University School of Professional Studies, has also served as a principal consultant for Education Forward Advisory. His expertise in workforce development and adult education are helping RIT to bridge the region’s skills gap through courses in fields ranging from health care and cybersecurity to manufacturing, construction and artificial intelligence.

Andrew Dobbyn

Executive Vice President, Education Division, Communication Workers of America Local 1104
Andrew Dobbyn / Sean Mascarenhas

As chief of CWA 1104’s education division, Andrew Dobbyn represents 6,000 graduate student workers across the State University of New York system, Fordham University and other bargaining units he has added since assuming his post in 2020. Dobbyn recently helped secure a contract that boosted Fordham students’ base stipends, reduced workloads and eliminated graduate student fees. At Stony Brook University, where he is completing his doctorate in philosophy, Dobbyn previously led the Graduate Student Employees Union in successful campaigns to save the embattled Spanish department and raise stipends.

Alexander Enyedi

President, SUNY Plattsburgh

It’s easy to spot President Alexander Enyedi on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus: The Canada-born plant biologist is a ubiquitous presence in his red baseball cap. Enyedi arrived shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, steering the 5,000-student institution through remote learning and, more recently, transitioning the former Plattsburgh College to university status. Enyedi previously served as provost at Humboldt State University, where he reorganized its academic programs and spearheaded external partnerships. Prior to that, he was a longtime faculty member and dean at Western Michigan University.

Linda Essig

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Baruch College
Linda Essig / Baruch College

As Baruch College’s provost and academic affairs chief, Linda Essig has been at the forefront of innovation for the New York City institution. Among her initiatives are a new program for transfer students, Baruch’s Office of Experiential and Community Engaged Learning and the Digital Learning Hub, with its online masters programs. Essig has also doubled research expenditures while growing full-time faculty by 10% and increasing instructor diversity. A former theater professor, Essig was previously dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Cal State LA.

Jim Finnerty

Vice President for Institutional Advancement, SUNY Buffalo State University

Jim Finnerty, a veteran of institutional fundraising and development, currently lends his talents to SUNY Buffalo State University, where he is vice president for institutional advancement. Over the past half-dozen years, Finnerty has nearly doubled annual fundraising, to $9 million, including multiple seven-figure gifts. He also developed a corporate engagement program that provides students with mentors, internships and scholarships. Finnerty, who began his career operating a financial aid counseling business, most recently led a $52 million campaign as senior director of campaigns for Oishei Children’s Hospital.

Hank Foley

President, New York Institute of Technology
Hank Foley / New York Institute of Technology

Before becoming president of the New York Institute of Technology in 2017, Hank Foley was a noted scholar of nanotechnology with 16 patents, 150 articles, a textbook and a legacy of mentorship to his credit. Foley, who has taught chemistry and chemical engineering at Penn State and the University of Delaware, most recently served as interim chancellor of the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is currently a board member of both the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York and the Long Island Regional Advisory Council on Higher Education.

Dan French

Co-Chair, Higher Education Practice Area, Barclay Damon
Dan French / Cindy Bell, Focus Studios

A veteran of government and academia, Dan French co-chairs Barclay Damon’s higher education and its white collar and government investigations practice. He is also a leader of the firm’s Indian law practice. For much of the past decade, French was the senior vice president and general counsel at Syracuse University, his alma mater, where he additionally served as the university’s interim athletics director. French, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York, also previously held legal roles in the U.S. Senate.

Dan Fuller

Senior Vice President, Ostroff Associates
Dan Fuller / Elario Photography

Dan Fuller, one of New York’s most experienced education advocates, joined Ostroff Associates in 2022. His portfolio includes lobbying for operating revenue and campus capital funds for the State University of New York, as well as for expanding financial aid access. Previously, as deputy secretary of education under Govs. Kathy Hochul and Andrew Cuomo, he worked on initiatives such as the Excelsior Scholarship Program and the Tuition Assistance Program; he was also instrumental in expanding child care access and opening food pantries on SUNY campuses.

Richard Gatteau

Vice President for Student Affairs, Stony Brook University
Richard Gatteau / Stony Brook University

Vice President for Student Affairs Richard “Rick” Gatteau isn’t just a longtime pillar of Stony Brook University. He’s also a champion of the next generation of higher education leaders, dating to his Fordham doctoral dissertation on female university presidents. More recently, Gatteau founded and directs Stony Brook’s master’s program in higher education administration – and for aspiring leaders from underrepresented backgrounds, he created the Student Affairs Fellowship Program. Last year, he was elected president of the SUNY Council of Senior Student Affairs Officers, representing the profession across 30 institutions.

Aaron Gladd

Chief Strategy Officer and Senior Advisor for Operations and Management, State University of New York
Aaron Gladd / Valerie Caviness

From Afghanistan to Albany, and from war to pandemic, Aaron Gladd has demonstrated exemplary leadership skills. The onetime U.S. Army platoon leader is now strategy chief for the State University of New York, where he is also senior adviser for operations and management – and has won plaudits for steering the system through its COVID-19 response. Gladd, currently a master’s degree candidate at Harvard University, previously served as chief of staff for two SUNY chancellors and was then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy chief of policy.

Debra-Ellen Glickstein

Founding Executive Director, NYC Kids Rise
Debra-Ellen Glickstein / NYC Kids Rise

Executive Director Debra-Ellen Glickstein founded NYC Kids Rise on an ambitious principle: to build a community-driven education savings platform for urban neighborhoods. Glickstein engages higher education leaders and city education officials on innovative programs like Save for College, which has accumulated $30 million for 200,000 public elementary school students through community scholarships. The economic development veteran, who holds a master’s of business administration from NYU and a public administration degree from Harvard University, previously led the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment and was a vice president overseeing programs for the New York City Housing Authority.

Ruth Gottesman

Chair, Board of Trustees, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

As a specialist in pediatric learning disabilities and the founder of an adult literacy program, Ruth Gottesman gave back through her work at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Earlier this year, however, she gave on another scale – donating $1 billion to subsidize free medical tuition at the Bronx institution, where she is a professor emeritus and chairs the board of trustees. With that move, the nonagenarian made one of academia’s most transformative donations ever – and took a singular stand against America's staggering tuition burden.

Carmen Renée Green

Dean, CUNY School of Medicine
Carmen Renée Green / Martin Vloet, Michigan Photography

At the City University of New York’s School of Medicine, Dean Carmen Renée Green is tackling both New York’s physician shortage and its glaring health disparities. Under her leadership, CUNY Medicine is the rare institution that prioritizes lived experiences and excludes the MCAT in admissions decisions, yielding an unusually diverse student population – more than 60% Black and Hispanic. Green, an anesthesiologist and renowned scholar of urban and minority health issues, worked on the Affordable Care Act and advised the U.S. Senate on policy.

Keydron K. Guinn

Executive Vice President, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
Keydron K. Guinn / Provided

As an educator, Keydron K. Guinn leads by example: Alongside a doctorate in medical sociology, he holds three master’s degrees. His background makes him an influential advocate at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, where he is executive vice president and a professor in both the College of Nursing and the School of Public Health. He has also been a national health advocate with the NAACP and held leadership roles at Morgan State University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy.

Donna Heiland

Provost, Pratt Institute
Donna Heiland / Ron Hester

Literary scholar Donna Heiland, Pratt Institute’s provost, is known as a champion of the arts and humanities – disciplines that are vulnerable in today’s STEM-focused climate. Heiland, who began her career as an English professor at Vassar College, has held leadership roles with the Teagle Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, national organizations devoted to humanities and liberal arts in higher education, and currently serves on the board of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project. She joined Pratt in 2016 after serving as a vice president at Emerson College.

Charlotte Hunter

Director of Development and External Relations, Center for Black Literature, Medgar Evers College
Charlotte Hunter / DP Jolly

Charlotte Hunter brings twin loves of education and community to her role at Medgar Evers College, the CUNY school where she directs development and external relations for the Center for Black Literature. Hunter, who holds a master’s in curriculum and teaching from Columbia University, Teachers College, joined Medgar Evers a decade ago managing community outreach programs at the School of Professional and Community Development. Prior to that, she worked in marketing for New York University’s continuing education division and as a career readiness specialist for a city educational nonprofit.

Paul Iaccarino

Director, Building Trades Educational Benefit Fund
Paul Iaccarino / Headshots Long Island

The next generation of New York electricians owes a debt to Paul Iaccarino. As director of the Building Trades Educational Benefit Fund, he runs the union-subsidized, Brooklyn-based apprenticeship program for employees of USWU Local 363, presiding over a pipeline to secure careers. Iaccarino, an accountant by training, is a champion of technical education’s social and environmental benefits: His program is both an engine of diversity – 60% of trainees identify as people of color – and a conduit to more climate-friendly energy practices.

Kelly Jackson

Senior Director of Intergenerational Learning and Program Planning, Government Relations Liaison, SUNY Purchase College
Kelly Jackson / Garrison Jackson

Kelly Jackson wears a number of hats at SUNY Purchase College: In addition to serving as the SUNY school’s government relations liaison, she is also the senior director of intergenerational learning and program planning. In this role, Jackson – who holds a master’s in adult education from SUNY Buffalo State University – ensures opportunities for learners of all ages. Her portfolio includes continuing education and noncredit courses, along with academic and cultural partnerships. Prior to joining Purchase in 2008, Jackson was the director of community arts and education for ArtsWestchester.

John Jennings

Partner, Harter Secrest & Emery
John Jennings / Walter Colley

Higher education is a specialty and a passion for attorney John Jennings, a partner and member of the government affairs practice group at Harter Secrest & Emery. Based in Rochester, he is a magna cum laude graduate and Graduate of the Last Decade honoree of Roberts Wesleyan University, where he currently teaches political science and serves on the board of trustees. At Harter Secrest, Jennings specializes in higher education and other highly regulated industries, including energy and biotechnology, as well as professional associations and nonprofit clients.

Marc Jerome

President, Monroe College
Marc Jerome / Monroe College

Marc Jerome is the third generation of his family to devote his career to Monroe College, a 90-year-old Bronx institution known for championing low-income, first-generation students. After briefly working as an attorney, Jerome joined the college in 1994, which was previously stewarded by his father and grandfather. Since he became president in 2017, his tenure has seen the expansion of Monroe’s New Rochelle campus, the opening of a hospitality training institute on the island of St. Lucia, the expansion of Monroe’s athletic programs and the introduction of several master’s degrees in teaching.

Cydney Johnson

Vice President of Community Engagement and Government Relations, Syracuse University
Cydney Johnson / Alice Patterson

A well-rounded veteran of varied higher education roles, Cydney Johnson currently leads Syracuse University’s government relations and community engagement efforts. In addition to overseeing the institution’s legislative and advocacy agenda, she also manages partnerships like Book Buddies, a literacy initiative in the Syracuse schools, as well as collaborations with local nonprofits and public programs around topics like home buying and nutrition. Johnson previously spent nearly a decade at SUNY Morrisville, where she taught marketing and served as chief of staff.

Larry Johnson Jr.

President, Guttman Community College
Larry Johnson Jr. / William Stock

CUNY’s newest community college is under the leadership of Larry Johnson Jr., a longtime advocate for student equity who became president of Guttman Community College in 2021. Under his leadership, the more than decade-old Bryant Park college – whose enrollment is 94% minority and 58% first-generation – celebrated its largest increase in student enrollment and $2 million in new grants. With a doctorate in humanities from Clark Atlanta University, Johnson led Phoenix College and St. Louis Community College-Forest Park prior to joining CUNY.

Max Kenner

Founder and Executive Director, Bard Prison Initiative
Max Kenner / Karen Pearson

Max Kenner is behind a compelling example of campus inclusion as founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative, which enrolls incarcerated people in degree programs at Bard College. Kenner, who serves as Bard's vice president for institutional initiatives, also advises the school’s president on public policy. Kenner’s initiatives include Bard Microcollege, a tuition-free community initiative replicating the BPI model outside of prisons, as well as Bard Baccalaureate, a scholarship program for adult learners. He also co-founded the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, which promotes college in prison nationally.

Kyle Kimball

Vice President of Government Relations and Community Engagement, New York University
Kyle Kimball / NYU

Kyle Kimball joined New York University last year to head its government relations and community engagement efforts. Prior to that, he held a similar role at Con Edison, advocating for the energy company and its clean energy transition with stakeholders across the downstate region. Kimball’s deep knowledge of New York City institutions comes in part from a series of leadership roles with the New York City Economic Development Corp., where he steered high-profile developments, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.

Michael Kohlhagen

President and CEO, Center for Educational Innovation
Michael Kohlhagen / Rob Daniels Photography

Innovative programming is the signature of Michael Kohlhagen, president and CEO of the Center for Educational Innovation. Under his leadership, the organization has announced its new Bronx Innovation Center for local programming, rolled out a coding and robotics initiative in New York City public schools and relaunched Read to Lead, a digital career exploration platform, in Birmingham, Alabama and New York. Kohlhagen previously served as superintendent of schools in Wethersfield, Connecticut; assistant superintendent in the Port Chester and Hartford districts; and a founding partner for the Southern Westchester Collaborative High School, a therapeutic alternative school.

Frederick E. Kowal

President, United University Professions
Frederick E. Kowal / UUP Director of Communications

Frederick E. Kowal heads United University Professions, the nation’s largest higher education union and a local affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, representing nearly 40,000 members throughout the SUNY system. Under Kowal’s purview, UUP leads campaigns for greater state investment in SUNY operating and capital expenses, more full-time staff and expansion of the state’s Tuition Assistance Program. His outspoken advocacy helped block a plan to close SUNY Downstate University Hospital in Brooklyn while securing more direct aid in the state budget for struggling SUNY institutions.

Tessa Kratz

Senior Managing Director, KIPP Forward, KIPP NYC
Tessa Kratz / Kellie Walsh Photography

Having spent nearly two decades at KIPP NYC – North America’s largest network of public charter schools – Tessa Kratz knows education doesn’t end at graduation. With KIPP Forward, she supervises a program guiding high school students through college selections, admissions and transition – collaborating with 400 counselors nationally and cultivating partnerships to aid student success. Kratz, who founded the first KIPP high school in 2008, spearheaded a partnership with Achievement First and other school networks to form the Postsecondary Success Collaborative with the aim of ensuring postsecondary success outcomes for thousands of young people of color.

Joseph Landau

Dean, Fordham Law School
Joseph Landau / Fordham Law School

Known for his LGBTQ+ and immigration advocacy, Joseph Landau is moving up to be the new dean of Fordham Law School, succeeding Matthew Diller at the helm of the country’s sixth largest law school. A two-time winner of the school’s Teacher of the Year Award and a recipient of the Fordham Law Dean’s Distinguished Research Award, Landau has also been recognized by the National LGBT Bar Association and held leadership roles with the New York City Bar Association’s LGBT Rights Committee. Prior to entering Yale Law School, Landau was an editor at The New Republic.

Sayar Lonial

Vice Dean, External Affairs and Public Relations, New York University Tandon School of Engineering
Sayar Lonial / NYU Tandon

On behalf of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Sayar Lonial orchestrates public-private partnerships and manages outreach to community members as well as government officials. He serves as vice dean for external affairs and public relations, handling all communications and promoting Tandon’s world-class engineering education, tech entrepreneurship and contributions to an innovation economy. Prior to joining NYU in 2011, Lonial headed planning and development at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and was deputy chief of staff for the New York City Council.

Amanda L. Lowe

Partner, Phillips Lytle
Amanda L. Lowe / KC Kratt

Litigator Amanda L. Lowe is passionate about her education clients, representing their interests before state and federal courts. Based in Buffalo, Lowe is a partner at Phillips Lytle and co-leader of the firm’s higher education team, advising and defending colleges and their affiliated entities on a wide range of matters – from employment and Title IX to housing, student affairs and day-to-day operations. Lowe is also a member of the firm’s labor and employment practice group and specializes in representing fiduciaries – people and organizations with legal responsibilities to others.

James Maher

President, Niagara University
James Maher / Provided

At Niagara University, James Maher leads a 165-year-old Vincentian Catholic institution with a global outlook. Under his leadership, the campus launched the Afghan Scholars initiative – for women denied education under the resurgent Taliban – and initiated partnerships with universities in India. Maher, a priest who previously spent a quarter century at St. John’s University, has also rolled out a master’s program in nursing, announced a new science research lab and celebrated major gifts along with a No. 30 ranking among North regional colleges from U.S. News & World Report.

Christine Mangino

President, Queensborough Community College
Christine Mangino / Queensborough Community College, CUNY

Since assuming leadership of Queensborough Community College in 2020, Christine Mangino has spearheaded its first five-year strategic plan and launched a series of social justice initiatives aimed at supporting students. Under her leadership, the school has debuted its Truth, Transformation and Racial Healing Center, an equity dashboard, a Men’s Resource Center and, this summer, an LGBTQIA+ center. No stranger to CUNY, Mangino previously rose through the ranks at Hostos Community College, serving as department chair, dean and provost. She is an alum of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence.

Gregory Mantsios

Founding Dean, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
Gregory Mantsios / Aaron Lenchner

When CUNY inaugurated its School of Labor and Urban Studies in 2018, it selected Gregory Mantsios to be its founding dean. The sociologist, a national expert on the labor movement, had previously spent 34 years defining the field and cultivating nontraditional students as the founding director of the school’s predecessor, the Joseph Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. Mantsios, a onetime community organizer and union official, previously directed labor studies at then-Empire State College and is the founder and publisher of New Labor Forum.

Liza Marquez

Manager of Governmental Relations, Queens College

Queens College is Liza Marquez’s alma mater, as well as the institution to which she has devoted her career. For the past seven years, Marquez has managed the CUNY college’s external and government relations, representing a staggeringly diverse and ambitious campus before lawmakers in New York and Albany – along with handling outreach with local and community organizations. Marquez, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the college, previously directed IT client services and served as the school’s human relations manager.

Gabriel Marshall

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, SUNY Oswego
Gabriel Marshall / Jim Russell, SUNY Oswego

From campus events and peer mentoring to family and student engagement, Gabriel Marshall develops support structures and expands programming as the associate vice president for student affairs at SUNY Oswego. Marshall, who holds a master’s in college counseling as well as a doctorate, was previously in the role of assistant vice president for student success and retention at SUNY Buffalo State University. He has also led student achievement programs at Nazareth University and was part of the inaugural cohort of SUNY’s Black Leadership Institute.

Lesley Massiah-Arthur

Associate Vice President for Government Relations and Urban Affairs, Fordham University
Lesley Massiah-Arthur / Provided

Known as one of New York state’s top higher education lobbyists, Fordham University Associate Vice President for Government Relations and Urban Affairs Lesley Massiah-Arthur has brought in some $40 million in Fordham-specific grants in her role as special assistant to the president. Massiah-Arthur advocates for her graduate alma mater on local, state and federal matters as varied as Pell Grants, DACA and college affordability. She honed her budget skills as a staffer with the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, and is currently earning her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania.

Linda Mauro

Campus Operating Officer, New York City, Berkeley College
Linda Mauro / Davidson Toussaint

A onetime fashion professional, Linda Mauro now stitches together the day-to-day operations at Berkeley College’s New York City campus, ensuring that everything from finances and personnel to community outreach come together with panache. Mauro left the fashion industry in 2001 to work in enrollment at the college, eventually overseeing admissions at multiple campuses. Mauro, whose purview includes new programming, brought her worlds together last year when she launched Berkeley’s Designer-in-Residence Program, giving fashion students hands-on experience both in Manhattan’s Garment District and at Fashion Week.

Denise Maybank

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, City University of New York
Denise Maybank / Thaddeus Townsel, Photo Sharp, Inc.

From recruitment through graduation and beyond, Denise Maybank is responsible for educational success as vice chancellor for student affairs at the City University of New York. Since joining her undergraduate alma mater in 2020, she has guided both enrollment and student engagement functions to improve outcomes. Maybank previously spent 15 years at Michigan State University, where as vice president and associate provost she spearheaded a wellness initiative, helped guide the campus through the COVID-19 pandemic and rolled out the Neighborhood Student Success Center to cultivate academic and social support.

Jennifer A. McLaughlin

Partner, Cullen and Dykman

For matters ranging from disability accommodation and financial aid to intellectual property, colleges and universities turn to Jennifer A. McLaughlin, a partner at Cullen and Dykman on Long Island. McLaughlin co-chairs the firm’s higher education practice group and is a frequently consulted expert on Title IX, including serving as a panelist for hearings on sexual misconduct. Aside from a brief stint as associate counsel for Long Island University, McLaughlin has devoted her career to Cullen and Dykman, where she is also a member of the commercial litigation department.

Ryan A. McPherson

Chief Sustainability Officer, University at Buffalo
Ryan A. McPherson / Andrea Wenglowskyj

As the University at Buffalo’s inaugural chief sustainability officer since 2011, Ryan A. McPherson oversees a strategy that has so far reduced the school’s carbon footprint by 35%. Under his oversight, the university was recognized by the White House as a national model for climate action, and scored a No. 1 world ranking by the Times Higher Education Impact Assessment in taking urgent action to combat climate change. McPherson first joined the university in a government relations role just after graduating from its law school, with a focus on environmental law.

Belinda S. Miles

President, SUNY Westchester Community College
Belinda S. Miles / SUNY Westchester Community College

Since taking the helm of SUNY Westchester Community College in 2015, President Belinda S. Miles has increased first-year retention and more than doubled graduation rates at the county’s largest higher education institution, which educates 21,000 students annually. She has also celebrated improvements in college readiness and implemented mental health and well-being initiatives. As the school’s first African American and female leader, Miles is a champion of inclusion for WCC, SUNY’s most diverse campus and its first school to be federally designated as a hispanic-serving institution.

James Montoya

Chief of Membership, Governance and Global Higher Education, Secretary of the Corporation, College Board

The mighty College Board boasts a worldwide membership of school districts, secondary schools and post-secondary institutions worldwide – and James Montoya is their liaison. He ensures that the organization’s SAT, AP courses and other programs remain relevant and responsive to institutional needs as well as the 7 million students they serve. Montoya is also responsible for governance and global higher education and serves as secretary of the College Board corporation. He previously was a vice provost and dean at Stanford University, his alma mater, where he still is a guest lecturer.

Alison Munsch

Chief Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Officer, Iona University

At Iona University, business scholar and Chief Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Officer Alison Munsch models the coexistence of capitalism and social consciousness. As an associate professor in Iona’s LaPenta School of Business, Munsch has done this through educational programming – including a popular diversity speaker series – and initiatives like the Equity Collective, which partners students with financial organizations for networking and conversations around inclusivity. Munsch, who holds a doctorate in psychology, jump-started these conversations on campus as a co-chair of the business school’s DEI Task Force and currently moderates Iona’s Women in Business Club.

Wendy M. Nicholson

Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, LaGuardia Community College

At LaGuardia Community College, one of New York’s most diverse schools, Wendy M. Nicholson is the inaugural executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion. The seasoned American Sign Language interpreter joined LaGuardia in 2012 to advise and advocate for students with disabilities in a workforce preparation program. Since becoming DEI chief, Nicholson has developed the school’s social equity plan across multiple divisions, advised on diverse recruitment and retention, and devised DEI metrics to quantify the impact of her work. She recently earned a doctorate in public affairs from Rutgers University.

Joanne Passaro

Outgoing President, Metropolitan College of New York
Joanne Passaro / Stefan Radtke

Cultural anthropologist Joanne Passaro has served since 2018 as president of Metropolitan College of New York, using her own experience as an adult student to encourage others (Metropolitan’s average student age is 33). She leads a 60-year-old, social justice-focused institution with two campuses in Manhattan and the Bronx and schools dedicated to human services and education, business and public affairs. Passaro is retiring this summer after a career that also includes serving as provost at Carroll University in Wisconsin and at Mercy College, where she oversaw planning and budgeting.

Melinda Person

President, New York State United Teachers
Melinda Person / El-Wise Noisette

Melinda Person’s education career started in a Boston sixth-grade classroom and took her to the leadership of New York State United Teachers, a 700,000-member union of workers associated with New York’s schools, colleges and health care facilities. Over nearly two decades with the union, Person has launched NYSUT’s Member Action Center to galvanize political engagement and created the Regional Political Organizer Program to connect members with their elected officials. She also developed the Pipeline Project, which has trained and supported 200 NYSUT members in campaigns for office.

Emma Pierson

Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Cornell Tech
Emma Pierson / Provided

Computer scientist and health equity scholar Emma Pierson has an impact well beyond academia, publishing widely in such outlets as The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight and Wired. Pierson is an assistant professor at Cornell Tech, the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute and Technion. She also holds a secondary joint appointment in population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medical College, where she develops data science and machine learning methods to study inequality and healthcare. Pierson’s work has been recognized with a National Science Foundation Career award and a Rhodes scholarship.

John Rhodes

Battalion Commander, U.S. Army New York City Recruiting Battalion
John Rhodes / U.S. Army

At the U.S. Army 1st Recruiting Battalion in New York City, Lt. Col. John Rockland “Rocky” Rhodes serves as battalion commander, engaging the next generation of future soldiers. A prodigiously decorated combat veteran and award-winning West Point history professor, he focuses on relationship building for the Army across the education sector. Rhodes’ most ambitious new initiative is working with Army Cadet Command to provide qualified community college graduates automatic acceptance to local universities and Army ROTC programs to earn a degree and Army commission debt-free.

Andrew Rich

Dean, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, City College of New York
Andrew Rich / Sirin Samman

Andrew Rich brings an ambitious spirit to CUNY’s City College of New York, where he serves as dean of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. Over five years, Rich has grown enrollment by nearly 40% – making the 3,500-student school CCNY’s largest student division – and spearheaded a $72 million-and-counting capital campaign. He has also unveiled an Office of Student Success, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center and CCNY’s Social Mobility Lab, which he co-founded. Rich previously headed the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, a federal agency.

Christine Riordan

President, Adelphi University
Christine Riordan / Adelphi University

In just shy of a decade at the helm of Adelphi University, President Christine Riordan has launched two strategic plans, supervised $126 million in campus improvements, added 50 new academic programs and established an Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. A sought-after executive coach and TEDx speaker, Riordan attributes her effectiveness partly to the perspectives she’s acquired studying engineering, earning a master’s of business administration and a doctorate in leadership and organizational behavior. She is an active member and former board chair of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York.

Carolina Rodriguez

Director, Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program, Community Service Society

Carolina Rodriguez helps student loan borrowers across the Empire State as director of the Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program, a project of the Community Service Society. Rodriguez, an attorney who also holds a master’s in social work, brings an advocacy background to her work at CSS, a nonprofit that champions low-income New Yorkers. She joined a dozen years ago as a supervising attorney with its Health Initiatives Department, guiding a statewide coalition of grassroots health initiatives and managing the state’s largest health insurance enrollment network.

Havidán Rodríguez

President, University at Albany
Havidán Rodríguez / University at Albany

In 2017, Puerto Rico-born sociologist Havidán Rodríguez became the first Hispanic president of a SUNY four-year institution – and led the University at Albany to become the Northeast’s first R1 research institution awarded the Seal of Excelencia for Latino student success. He also serves on President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. At the university, Rodríguez has secured $75 million in state support for the Albany Artificial Intelligence Supercomputing Initiative and celebrated the newly merged College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering.

Jeffrey Rodus

Vice Chancellor for Government Affairs, City University of New York
Jeffrey Rodus / Lisa Berg

Jeffrey Rodus joined the City University of New York last year as vice chancellor for government affairs, leveraging his quarter-century in New York City government to advocate for his alma mater. Rodus earned his master’s from Baruch College, where he later taught and was honored with Baruch’s 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award. Prior to assuming his current post, Rodus was a chief of staff to the first deputy mayor to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. His experience also includes over two decades at the New York City Council, where he held financial and administrative roles.

David E. Rogers

President, SUNY Morrisville

Labor economist David E. Rogers is a longtime fixture at SUNY Morrisville, where he became president in 2015. During his tenure, the college has raised $100 million for capital projects, unveiled its first master’s program and rolled out several new bachelor’s programs. Rogers also appointed Morrisville’s inaugural chief diversity officer and developed an environmental plan – anchored by the new Agriculture and Clean Energy Technology facility – that was recognized by the Sustainable Upstate Network. Rogers previously served the college as provost, chief information officer and dean of the business school.

Scorpio Rogers

Vice President, Community Relations and Government Affairs, Mercy University
Scorpio Rogers / Provided

With a background that spans entrepreneurship, academia and administration, Scorpio Rogers is a longtime fixture at Mercy University, where he currently heads community relations and government affairs. Most recently, Rogers has helped forge partnerships with community-based organizations, including Roads to Success and Thrive Scholars. He is also helping to launch Catalyst, a comprehensive student support initiative. Rogers has served as founding director of the Mercy Business Incubation Center, vice president of multiple Mercy campuses and a professor of entrepreneurship.

Terri Rosen Deutsch

Associate Vice President for External Affairs, Hunter College

Over 22 years with Hunter College, Terri Rosen Deutsch has leveraged her city government experience to bring in $2 million annually. Currently the school’s associate vice president for external affairs, she leads advocacy that has facilitated Hunter’s expansion beyond the main campus, including the East Harlem social work school, the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute and Manhattan Hunter Science High School. Rosen Deutsch’s broad collaborations have yielded programs that place students in community-based jobs and internships with city agencies and nonprofits.

Neil Schluger

Dean of the School of Medicine, New York Medical College
Neil Schluger / New York Medical College

An educator, pulmonologist and researcher, Dr. Neil Schluger leads the School of Medicine at New York Medical College, supervising the training of nearly 1,200 medical students, residents and fellows, along with a faculty of more than 1,700. Schluger’s research has centered around public health challenges like tuberculosis, tobacco use and air pollution; he was a principal investigator in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored Tuberculosis Trials Consortium, an international collaboration, and a founder and director of the East Africa Training Initiative, a fellowship program in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

Ali Ryan Scott

Assistant Vice President and Director of Marketing and External Affairs, St. Francis College

Assistant Vice President Ali Ryan Scott brings a wealth of experience in advocacy and fundraising to St. Francis College, the Brooklyn Catholic institution where she directs marketing and external affairs. She joined the college in 2021 after holding a series of development and alumni relations roles, including with New Jersey Seeds, a nonprofit that champions education access for low-income students. Prior to that, Scott was a program director for the Grassroots Community Foundation. She holds a law degree from Howard University.

Brian J. Shanley

President, St. John’s University
Brian J. Shanley / St. John's University

Brian J. Shanley, a scholar of philosophy and a Dominican priest, currently serves as president of St. John’s University, where he teaches a course in ethics and is guiding a post-pandemic strategic plan. Before coming to Queens, Shanley was the longtime president of Providence College, his undergraduate alma mater, where he presided over increased faculty hiring, made significant campus upgrades and raised the institution’s academic and athletic profiles. He holds a doctorate from the University of Toronto and has taught philosophy at Catholic University of America.

Janet Silver

Principal, Hinman Straub
Janet Silver / Paul Castle, Castle Photography

For over 20 years, attorney Janet Silver has provided counsel as well as representation for colleges, universities and the Association of Private Colleges. As a member of Hinman Straub’s education and government relations practice areas, Silver is a familiar presence in Albany. Her legislative wins include significant Tuition Assistance Program increases, and she routinely secures approval for schools’ nonprofit conversions, closures, mergers, new programs and other regulatory matters. An expert in special education and licensure issues, Silver has a long history of leadership with the Albany County Bar Association.

Donna Stelling-Gurnett

President, Association of Private Colleges
Donna Stelling-Gurnett / Corning Place Communications

Donna Stelling-Gurnett had a lot to celebrate in this year’s state budget: As president of the Association of Private Colleges, a 12-institution coalition, she led a successful campaign to expand the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, scoring historic increases in eligibility, income thresholds and financial aid dollars. Before joining APC in 2013, Stelling-Gurnett sharpened her nonprofit advocacy skills as the executive director of several association management organizations – including the Albany-based Association Development Group – and of the National Scleroderma Foundation.

Terrance Stroud

Deputy Commissioner, Training and Workforce Development, New York City Department of Social Services
Terrance Stroud / One Stop Photo

Deputy Commissioner Terrance Stroud oversees the Office of Training and Workforce Development for the New York City Department of Social Services, the nation’s largest municipal social services agency. He was also the first Black recipient of the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award at his alma mater, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where he oversees the New York Externship Program. In addition, he was the inaugural Global Leader in Residence at Indiana’s School of Global and International Studies. Stroud was recently appointed to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Henry Louis Taylor Jr.

Director, Center for Urban Studies, University at Buffalo
Henry Louis Taylor Jr. / Provided

Historian Henry Louis Taylor Jr. has devoted his career to the intersection of race, class and community development, with a focus on Black neighborhoods and social movements. At the University at Buffalo, where he teaches in the Urban and Regional Planning Department, Taylor founded and directs the Center for Urban Studies. He is also the associate director of the Community Health Equity Research Institute. The recipient of the Urban Affairs Association’s Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award, Taylor has had his research widely featured in national media outlets.

Marion Terenzio

President, SUNY Cobleskill
Marion Terenzio / Kyle Fossè, SUNY Cobleskill

With degrees in community psychology and music therapy, Marion Terenzio brings a Renaissance sensibility to the presidency of SUNY Cobleskill, where she is a national authority on campus-driven community development. Terenzio won a 2019 economic development award from the American Association of Colleges and Universities for launching SUNY Cobleskill’s Institute for Rural Vitality. Last fall, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to promote collaborations around international agricultural education. She also recently co-chaired SUNY’s task force on empowering students with disabilities.

Jared Trujillo

Associate Professor, CUNY School of Law

Jared Trujillo, a widely cited expert on criminal justice, teaches constitutional law, critical race theory and the criminal legal system at the CUNY School of Law. Trujillo also co-chairs the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association. He previously served as senior policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he worked closely with elected officials and other stakeholders on criminal justice policy. He began his career at The Legal Aid Society, later serving as president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys.

Krystyn J. Van Vliet

Vice President for Research and Innovation, Cornell University
Krystyn J. Van Vliet / MIT Department of Biological Engineering

Since coming to Cornell University from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last year, research and innovation chief Krystyn J. Van Vliet has connected the university’s research communities with external funding and facilitates the local, regional and national collaborations that translate research into societal impact. Under Van Vliet’s guidance, Cornell campuses have partnered with regional innovation hubs around microelectronics, AI and other cutting-edge fields. She is also a professor of engineering, a Bose Awardee for Excellence in Teaching, a multi-patented scholar of materials science and the scientific founder of a company developing 3D-printed pharmaceutical platforms.

Lisa Vollendorf

President, Empire State University
Lisa Vollendorf / Brian Styk

Online or in the classroom, there are more students than ever at Empire State University, where President Lisa Vollendorf has boosted new enrollment by 24% at the state’s only public online institution. Her approach promotes highly flexible learning and hands-on training through corporate and union partnerships. Vollendorf, a noted scholar of Romance languages, previously spent 16 years in the California State University system, served as provost for the University of Northern Colorado and director of the Hispanic Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Lisa Wager

Director, Government and Community Relations, Fashion Institute of Technology
Lisa Wager / Smiljana Peros

Hemlines go up and down, but advocacy and outreach are always in style. At the Fashion Institute of Technology, that’s where Lisa Wager comes in. As the SUNY school’s first director of government and community relations, Wager has been instrumental in raising FIT’s profile and demonstrating its vital role in New York’s globally resonant creative industry. A veteran of the Clinton administration and, more recently, a New York City nonprofit, Wager also developed FIT’s community relations program, representing the college at local community boards, advisory councils and business improvement districts.

Chanda Washington

Associate to the President for Government and Community Affairs, Hofstra University
Chanda Washington / Matteo Bracco, Hofstra University

Chanda Washington’s career has taken her from community editor to community affairs – the latter at Hofstra University, where she assists the president with government relations and local outreach. Washington honed her knowledge of grassroots communities at The Washington Post, where she spent a decade leading teams that reported on local stories. Prior to joining Hofstra, Washington directed communications around education, housing, public safety and economic opportunity for the mayor’s office in Washington, D.C., and earned a master’s of business administration from Howard University.

Samantha White

Assistant Professor, Manhattanville University
Samantha White / Daniel Freel

Samantha White’s focus puts her at the intersection of such timely issues as sports, health, race and social justice. White, who has consulted for The North Face and serves on the board of the environmental nonprofit 10 Billion Strong, was honored with her school’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Award this year. White and her colleagues received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study sports and the Latino experience. She was selected as an Early Career Faculty Fellow with the Nielsen Center for the Liberal Arts at Eckerd College.

Renée T. White

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, The New School
Renée T. White / The New School

A scholar of the Black experience, Renée T. White serves as the provost of The New School, where she leads academic affairs, having previously held the same role at Massachusetts’ Wheaton College. White, who holds a doctorate from Yale University, is also a well-regarded professor of sociology, currently at The New School for Social Research. She is the editor of several books on Black culture and identity, and the awardee of a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship in Black film studies.

Jeannette M. Wing

Executive Vice President for Research, Columbia University
Jeannette M. Wing / Carnegie Mellon University

In 2017, nationally renowned computer scientist Jeannette M. Wing left Microsoft Research for Columbia University, where she was the inaugural Avanessians Director of its Data Science Institute. As of 2021, she is also Columbia’s executive vice president for research. Wing, whose current scholarship focuses on trustworthy AI, is also a longtime faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University, where she used to head the computer science department. Her experience also includes leadership with the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate.

Joshua C. Woodfork

Executive Director and Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity, Skidmore College

A scholar of American studies, Joshua C. Woodfork has a broad perspective on the nation’s diversity – and its importance at Skidmore College, his longtime professional home. Woodfork joined the school as a faculty member in 2005 and currently serves as executive director and vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity. He also co-chairs Skidmore’s Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding, which advises the president. He previously co-founded Skidmore’s Black Faculty and Staff Group, and in 2008 received the Skidmore College President’s Award.