New CEOs

Jay Allen will become the seventh president of Itawamba Community College (Mississippi) on July 1. He is currently president of Hopkinsville Community College in Kentucky. Before he came Hopkinsville in 2014, Allen served in several leadership positions at Hinds Community College and as a senior-level administrator for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – Perkinston and the George County Center for a total of 22 years. His experience includes academic, career-technical, student services, institutional development, information technology, business services, athletics, workforce and other noncredit areas.

First-time CEOs

John Hauser will serve as the fifth president of Carteret Community College (North Carolina), as of July 1. He is currently vice president of applied career technologies and Alleghany Center at Wilkes Community College (North Carolina). Hauser has spent 19 years in the North Carolina Community College System, with 10 years of administrative responsibilities. He started at Wilkes in 1997 as director of industry services and moved up to executive director, dean and finally vice president, a post he’s held for 11 years. Hauser also has served as an adjunct professor in the higher education program at Appalachian State University. Before his career in education, Hauser was a mechanical and plant industrial engineer.

Laura Leatherwood will serve as the fourth president of Blue Ridge Community College in North Carolina, effective July 1. She is currently vice president of student services at Haywood Community College (North Carolina), where she started in 2000 as the first full-time executive director of the Haywood Community College Educational Foundation and director of institutional advancement. In 2007, Leatherwood was promoted to executive director of continuing and adult education. She has served in her current roles as vice president for six years.

Ricky Shabazz has been named president of San Diego City College, effective July 11. He comes from San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC), where he is vice president of student services. Shabazz previously served for more than five years as assistant director of admissions at the University of California, Davis. He has also held positions as associate director of admissions at Harvey Mudd College, and as a director of counseling at a charter high school in Los Angeles. In 2007, Shabazz was named director of outreach and relations with schools at the Compton Community College District, and later served as dean of students.

Kris Westover will become the next president of Mountain Empire Community College (Virginia) on July 1. Westover has more than 25 years of experience in higher education. She currently is vice president for academic and student services at Patrick Henry Community College in Virginia, a position she has held since 2011. Previously, Westover served as higher education program coordinator at the University of Texas in Austin from 2009 to 2011. Prior to that, Westover was director of technical programs for the Kansas Board of Regents.

Interim CEOs

Peter Provenzano is now interim chancellor at Oakland Community College (OCC) in Michigan. He previously was college’s vice chancellor of administrative services. Prior to coming to OCC in 2014, Provenzano was chief financial officer for Macomb County.

Christopher A. Lewis has been named interim president of J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College in Alabama. His start date is June 1. Lewis currently serves as special assistant for workforce at the Alabama Community College System, which he joined in 2015 as director of the Alabama Technology Network’s Montgomery/Selma Center. Most recently, Lewis has been working as a liaison with Trenholm State Community College to coordinate adult education and workforce development programs.


Joanne Truesdell, who has served president of Clackamas Community College (Oregon) for a decade, plans to retire next summer. Her relationship with the college began more than 30 years ago, where she graduated in 1982. Truesdell joined the college as director of the family resource center before taking a position as director of enrollment services. Later, Truesdell took positions at Chemeketa Community College in (Oregon) as dean of student development and then executive dean.

Truesdell returned in 2007 to her alma mater as its president during one of the most challenging times for education. Facing budgetary challenges and new direction and expectations from the state, Truesdell provided thoughtful leadership that never lost sight of what is best for students and the community. Under her leadership, CCC is an established partner in economic development in the region by integrating workforce and college services, earning national recognition for work around veterans’ reintegration and partnering with the Clackamas Community College Foundation, which recently completed its Education That Works campaign raising more than $11 million for scholarships and innovation.

“The college has been fortunate to have a leader guiding us in these challenging times who is so dedicated, respected and tenacious,” said Board of Education Chair Richard Oathes.


Velmarie Albertini has joined Florida’s Palm Beach State College as the new dean of curriculum. She has 20 years of teaching and leadership experience and comes from Barry University, where she has worked since August 2016 as associate dean of academic and student affairs.

Saeid Eidgahy is the new senior dean of liberal arts and sciences for California’s Sonoma County Junior College District. As a dean at San Diego Mesa College, where he served since 2000, Eidgahy was in charge of the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. For more than a decade he worked with a large group of faculty and staff in planning the new Math+Science Complex, the single largest instructional facility of any community college in California.

Deborah E. Preston is now provost and vice president of academic affairs at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. She previously served for 11 years at Montgomery College in Maryland as dean for visual, performing and media arts. Preston also served for 14 years as a faculty member, department chair and campus provost at Georgia Perimeter College.


Nancy Gray, executive director of financial aid at Aims Community College in Colorado, has received the Hall of Fame Award from the Colorado Association of Financial Aid Administrators. Gray began her career in financial aid in 1988 as the Pell Grant coordinator at the University of Northern Colorado. She later became a financial aid counselor and served for 16 years as assistant director of scholarships. She came to Aims as director of financial aid in 2012.

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