2019 Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges

Each year, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education spotlights the Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges.

Diverse is excited to announce this year’s 2019 Most Promising Place to Work in Community Colleges.
Each institution is featured in the May 16, 2019 edition.

Congratulations to the 19 in 2019!
19 Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges

Institution Chief Executive Officer Location Control Level
Arkansas State University Mid-South Dr. Debra West West Memphis, AR Public 2-year
Coastline Community College Dr. Loretta Adrian Fountain Valley, CA Public 2-year
Community College of Allegheny County Dr. Quintin Bullock Pittsburgh, PA Public 2-year
Garden City Community College Dr. Ryan Ruda Garden City, KS Public 2-year
Gateway Community College Dr. Steven Gonzales Phoenix, AZ Public 2-year
Harrisburg Area Community College Dr. John Sygielski Harrisburg, PA Public 2-year
Illinois Central College Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey Peoria, IL Public 2-year
Madison Area Technical College Dr. Jack E. Daniels III Madison, WI Public 2-year
Malcolm X College Dr. David A. Sanders Chicago, IL Public 2-year
Maricopa Community Colleges Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick Tempe, AZ Public 2-year
Martin Community College Dr. Paul Hutchins Williamston, NC Public 2-year
Montgomery County Community College Dr. Kevin Pollock Blue Bell, PA Public 2-year
Mountain View College Dr. Sharon Davis Dallas, TX Public 2-year
New Mexico State U.y-Alamogordo Dr. John Floros Alamogordo, NM Public 2-year
Northeast Lakeview College Dr. Veronica Garcia Universal City, TX Public 2-year
Palm Beach State College Ava L. Parker, J.D. Lake Worth, FL Public 2-year
Pierpont Community & Technical College Dr. Johnny Moore Fairmont, WV Public 2-year
South Seattle College Dr. Rosie Rimando Chareunsap Seattle, WA Public 2-year
Tallahassee Community College Dr. Jim Murdaugh Tallahassee, FL Public 2-year

About the Study

This study was first commissioned by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2014. The purpose of this commissioned study was to examine the extent to which diversity and inclusion permeates various aspects (e.g., administrative structures, commitments, work environments, staffing practices) of the work places at participating two-year community and technical colleges, all of which are NISOD-member institutions.

The survey was developed by Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, in consultation with members of the project’s advisory board. The original survey was pilot tested with a small sample of institutions; feedback from the pilot study helped to clarify survey items, correct logic sequencing, and determine the utility of the scoring algorithm.

The larger project, Promising Places to Work, has been administered by Strayhorn and his teams at various centers. It is now administered by Do Good Work Educational Consulting, LLC — an independent educational consulting firm committed to inclusive excellence, student access and success. The Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs project is in partnership with American College Personnel Association (ACPA); findings were published in the March 7 edition of Diverse.


Today’s community colleges are as diverse as the students they serve. There are over 1,100 community colleges in the United States that educate more than 12 million students each year. Community colleges also employ thousands of staff members who work in critical functional areas, including student affairs or support services. These committed professionals make the institution warm, welcoming for all students so that they can develop, grow, learn, and thrive optimally.

This year’s list of the 19 Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges includes an impressive cast of 2-year institutions that specialize in equipping students for securing the bright promises of their future. Each of them have signature programs and marquee initiatives that make them uniquely who they are. Promising Places is a national recognition that celebrates student affairs workplaces that are vibrant, diverse, supportive, and committed to staff work-life balance, professional development, and inclusive excellence.

In this edition of Diverse, we strive to pull back the curtain, so to speak, so that others can see the good work going on at these institutions and learn from them to affirm or improve your own workplaces. PPWCC offers institutional leaders information that can be used to improve work environments, raise morale, or continuously improve practices across the student affairs division. It also serves as a useful tool for employers, career services staff, and job seekers across the country.

Here’s what we’ve learned from readers since the initial launch of the Promising Places projects back in 2014. Employers use this national recognition to celebrate their success in creating a vibrant workplace for staff and they mention the award on their careers website, job announcements, and recruiting materials. Career counselors interpret the award to mean that the campus offers high quality support to staff, respectable compensation and benefits, and best forms of practice in terms of diversity and inclusive policies.


Promising Places were selected based on a comprehensive analysis of results from an annual survey that was administered to all institutional members of NISOD. Scores were computed using the algorithm that considers weighted data for all points highlighted on the survey such as diversity benefits, staff demographics, and diversity policies (e.g., bias monitoring, staff orientation). For full discussion of these methods, see previous versions of this report in Diverse.


As the Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges project evolves, we learn more and more about what’s going on at various institutions to increase faculty and staff diversity, to foster staff sense of belonging and to equip college student educators for their work with students. Presented here is a set of “promising practices” that have held up across each year of the study.

Promising Practice #1:
Recognition of Good Work

Each year, we hear from faculty and staff who work at community colleges about the importance of good work being recognized, especially by those in leadership positions. Specifically, institutions recognized as Most Promising Places over the past three years have been known for hosting formal ceremonies that recognize the meaningful contributions of various members of the campus community. Quite often, faculty and staff described this practice as a positive feature of institutional culture that was beneficial to their retention as well as their colleagues’. In addition to institutional awards and ceremonies, many faculty and staff noted that their campus leadership also nominated them for regional and national awards, honors and recognitions. We encourage community college leaders to adopt similar practices or approaches to recognizing the good work of staff and members of the campus community.

Promising Practice #2:
Commitment to Meeting the Needs of Community

The espoused mission of community colleges includes a clear focus on serving the needs of the local community. Thus, it is no surprise that faculty and staff at institutions designated as Most Promising Places underscored the importance of their institutions living up to this responsibility. Over the years, faculty and staff have consistently shared insights about their institution’s connection to, service of and appreciation for the communities in which they are located. For instance, some institutions provide support to the business community through rapid responses, professional development, and workplace training that meets the needs of today’s labor market. Other institutions, like Illinois Central College (ICC), signal the importance of community engagement by having cabinet-level leadership in the area such as a Vice President of Diversity and Community Impact. ICC hosts a summit on Racial Justice and Equity, comprised of keynote presentations, panel discussions, and roundtables that connect community to campus. It is important for all community colleges to truly be members of their local communities, serving the needs of the people on campus and beyond.

Promising Practice #3:
Investment in the Development of Faculty and Staff

Institutions represented among our Most Promising Places over the years have prioritized significant investment in the professional development of faculty and staff to better prepare them for leadership within the organization and broader community. Faculty and staff at institutions recognized as Most Promising Places over the years have discussed at length the ways in which their institutions have signaled commitment to them by investing in their professional development. For instance, at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), faculty and staff highlighted the Faculty Diversity Fellows program for junior minority faculty and the President’s Leadership Academy for staff members considered “rising leaders” within the institution. Likewise, Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) staff members report that there were always resources available to support their pursuit of professional development on and off campus, including book clubs, conference attendance, employee resource groups, webinars and on-campus leadership training seminars. Coastline Community College hosts a college-wide training on equity mindset and two all-college flex days on topics ranging from data visualization to equity. Interestingly, CCAC staff noted that the campus offers a range of electronic supports like online diversity training, online civility courses, and LYNDA online training with closed captioning. We encourage senior leaders at community colleges to make concerted investments in formal professional development activities for faculty and staff by adopting some of the ideas listed here and in previous editions of this report.