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Higher Education Leaders Join CCRC’s Advisory Board

welcome board members 1

Three new members are joining CCRC’s National Advisory Board, bringing fresh perspectives to the 12-member body and bolstering the center’s already strong connections with community college educators and other leaders in the field.

Erica Lee Orians, vice president of the Michigan Community College Association and executive director of the Michigan Center for Student Success; Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of Complete College America; and Lynda Villanueva, president of Lee College in Texas are joining the board.

“Erica, Yolanda, and Lynda bring deep commitment to research as a tool to help community colleges improve,” said Tom Brock, the director of CCRC. “They are also champions for equity. We look forward to working with them to increase CCRC’s visibility and impact in the field.”

The CCRC board, which meets twice a year, provides insight into issues facing community colleges and their students and important input into the center’s long-term research agenda. The board is also serving as advisors for a major project, co-led by CCRC, on pandemic recovery in community colleges.

As executive director of the Michigan Center for Student Success, Orians supports the state’s colleges as they work to improve student success through programs on transfer, guided pathways, workforce development, and various learning initiatives.

Watson Spiva works on increasing college completion rates and closing institutional performance gaps as president of Complete College America (CCA). CCA addresses policy, perspective, and practice at the federal, state, and institutional levels to drive systemic changes. CCA’s strategies, including improving the first-year experience and the college-career connection, are backed by research by CCRC and others.

Villanueva, who has had a long career in college administration, took the helm at Lee College a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and guided her college through the transition to remote learning. She is an Aspen Presidential Fellow and a data coach for Achieving the Dream.

The new CCRC board members are replacing three members who are leaving the board after lending their expertise over several years: Lande Ajose, managing director at Waverley Street Foundation, a climate philanthropy, and former vice president and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California; Jacob Fraire, director of policy and strategy for the Diana Natalicio Institute for Hispanic Student Success at The University of Texas at El Paso and former president and CEO of the Texas Association of Community Colleges; and Jeffrey Rafn, the president of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, who has served on the CCRC board for 19 years.

We thank our retiring advisory board members for their service to our organization and mission, and we welcome our newest members.

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