Named one of the country's Notable Education Leaders of 2017 by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Michael Baston serves as the seventh president of Rockland Community College. A leader who helps develop comprehensive supports that foster college completion, Michael is a contributing author to the books Race, Education, and Reintegrating Formerly Incarcerated Citizens, and The Handbook for Student Affairs in Community Colleges. Michael is a pathways coach for the American Association of Community Colleges and consults with college leadership teams around the nation, helping them integrate student success initiatives to advance college completion. Prior to serving as president of Rockland Community College, Michael was vice president of academic and student affairs at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, NY. He was also part of the Aspen Institute's inaugural class of Fellows for Community College Excellence, where he explored systemic issues affecting the educational access pipeline and student success. Michael previously served as a public interest lawyer representing educational institutions and social justice organizations as well as a professor of business and legal studies. Dr. Baston holds a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, and an Ed.D. from St. John Fisher College.
Ed Bowling is the executive director for completion and performance at Guilford Technical Community College in North Carolina, and served as the managing partner director for Completion by Design in North Carolina from 2011-2018. Before joining GTCC as a developmental education adjunct instructor in 2006, Ed held a senior management position at a large bank. In 2010, he became the Developmental Education Initiative grant director, overseeing the scaling of three core programs and two smaller projects under the DEI grant.
Ed has engaged in state and national guided pathways work since 2011. In addition to his leadership with Completion by Design, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ed has provided coaching and consulting to institutions in seven states through the North Carolina Student Success Learning Institute, AACC Pathways Project and Pathways 2.0, Texas Pathways, and the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement. Furthermore, he shares the work and outcomes of Completion by Design and guided pathways at state and national conferences. Ed received the BB&T Staff of the Year Award for the North Carolina Community College System in 2014. Ed earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
As director of higher education strategy, policy, and services at the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Martha Ellis spearheads strategic planning for Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP), an initiative to modernize entrylevel college mathematics programs. A former college president and leadership coach for Achieving the Dream, Martha works to advance the DCMP mission and vision in collaboration with higher education, governmental, and philanthropic partners. In addition to her role at the Dana Center, Martha serves as vice president/dean of graduate faculty and professor at the Roueche Graduate Center at National American University. In this capacity, Martha leads graduate faculty, teaches doctoral courses, oversees practicums, and chairs dissertation committees in the Community College Leadership program. Before joining National American University, Martha served as associate vice chancellor for community college partnerships for the University of Texas System, where she addressed state policy issues related to transfer and developed and implemented new models for student completion. Previously, Martha served as president of Lee College (Baytown, Texas) and Texas State Technical College (Waco, Texas). She earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration and research from the University of North Texas.
Special advisor to the president of the American Association of Community Colleges, Kay McClenney also serves as senior associate for the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) at the University of Texas at Austin. Founding director of CCCSE, Kay also taught in the Program in Higher Education Leadership and served as senior consultant on the national Achieving the Dream initiative. Kay co-directed Student Success BY THE NUMBERS, the California Leadership Alliance for Student Success, and the national Bridges to Opportunity initiative. For over 10 years, she served as vice president and chief operating officer of the Education Commission of the States. She has consulted with education institutions, state higher education systems, state government, and professional associations in 47 states and internationally. Furthermore, she served as a community college faculty member, program director, system administrator, and interim CEO. A frequent keynote speaker, Kay has authored numerous publications on education issues, strategic planning, accountability, student success, and leadership, and has been recognized with numerous honors, including the 2011 National Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges. She earned a Ph.D. in educational administration from the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin.
Krista O'Neill recently retired as the coordinator of advising and counseling services at Lorain County Community College (LCCC), a position she held since 2010. In addition to managing enrollment services and advising, Krista advised students for 32 years, working primarily with dismissal students returning to LCCC.
In 1995, Krista was nominated by LCCC and honored by the National Academic Advising Association as one of thirteen Outstanding Advisors nationally. A certified college alliance Bridges Out of Poverty trainer, Krista was a key contributor to LCCC's Completion by Design and Achieving the Dream initiatives. Krista provided leadership for LCCC’s redesign effort whereby all students are assigned to an advisor and advisors work in specialty advising teams. Using a case management model infused with predictive analytics and early identification of students at risk, the advising redesign has contributed to the 79% increase in LCCC’s graduation rate since 2011. Krista currently serves as an advising redesign coach for the Ohio Association of Community Colleges.
Krista graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hiram College in 1985 and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
Laura Rittner serves as executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges’ Student Success Center in Columbus, Ohio. In this role she oversees the OACC’s student success initiatives including Ohio’s guided pathways project for community colleges, the Student Success Leadership Institute, Completion by Design statewide policy and scaling work, and the AmeriCorps College Completion Coaches program. The Student Success Center’s portfolio of grants has grown to include over $8 million in state, federal and private foundation investments under Laura’s leadership. She has engaged many national partners in the OACC’s student success efforts and served as an inaugural coach for the American Association of Community College’s Pathways Project from 2016-2017.
Laura has 13 years of experience in community college leadership. After serving as as Director for Institutional Research for 7 years at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, OH, Laura joined the OACC in 2013 as Director of Research and Data Analysis. 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.
With 35 years of experience in higher education, Ted Wright currently serves as a data coach for multiple colleges and universities participating in the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network. As a data coach, Ted guides colleges in the development, analysis, and use of student outcomes data to inform improvement efforts. In over a decade of coaching Achieving the Dream institutions, Ted has helped community colleges in Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Louisiana, Kansas, and Florida build capacity to incorporate evidence in planning, implementing, and evaluating reform initiatives. Prior to his data coaching role, Ted served as director of research and planning at Broward Community College in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for over 20 years, followed by a tenure as special assistant to the president of Broward. Previously, Ted served as a senior research associate at Miami-Dade Community College, now known as Miami Dade College. Ted also taught educational research methods in the College of Education at Florida International University in Miami. Ted earned an Ed.D. in higher education leadership from Florida International University.