Dr. Levy Brown Chosen for Aspen National Presidential Fellowship

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The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Dr. Levy Brown, Jr., Vice President of Learning, Student Engagement & Success at Vance-Granville Community College, is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2021-22 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selective leadership program preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.

The Rising Presidents Fellows will embark on the 10-month fellowship beginning in November 2021. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the fellows will be mentored by esteemed current and former community college presidents who have achieved exceptional outcomes for students throughout their careers, and will learn strategies to improve student outcomes in and after college, lead internal change, and create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, employers, and other partners.

“To become institutions that truly advance social mobility and talent development, community colleges must have presidents with a clear vision for equitable student success,” said Monica Clark, director of leadership initiatives at the College Excellence Program. “We have selected these fellows because they share that commitment and are well-positioned to become transformational leaders.”

“As an Aspen Community College Presidential Fellowship Cohort 2 participant, I know the incredible value and honor of being selected for this program,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC. “On behalf of Vance-Granville Community College, I am incredibly proud that Dr. Brown has been admitted to this program and will benefit both professionally and personally from participation. Dr. Brown will be able to hone his transformational leadership skills amongst the senior fellows and incoming participant fellows in this auspicious program.”

The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship responds to the growing need for a new generation of leaders well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Nationally, nearly 80 percent of sitting presidents plan to retire in the next decade. While the traditional pathway to the presidency has often excluded women and people of color, the incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is composed of 68 percent women and 70 percent people of color, and represents institutions of varying sizes and locations.

Meet Dr. Brown

“The opportunity to be a part of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship is something I do not take for granted,” Dr. Brown said. “I am truly humbled and grateful for the chance to develop lasting professional relationships, exchange innovative ideas, and engage in deep thought about what community college excellence looks like, both now and in the future. As a thoughtful lifelong learner, I look forward to learning with and from exceptional, experienced leaders from across the country. Further, I am elated to have the support of our president, faculty, staff, and communities as a representative of Vance-Granville Community College. This experience will help me make a greater impact in my current role while giving me the tools to be an exceptional community college president in the future.”

Brown added, “On a more personal note, I am thankful for the support of my wife Elisa Brown, children, family, close colleagues, mentors, and friends. It takes a village.”

Brown has been an administrator at VGCC since 2017, originally as Vice President of Student Services. In his current role, he serves as the College’s Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer. He is responsible for leading and working collaboratively with credit faculty and staffers in the areas of academic programs, teaching and learning, student success, equity and inclusion, enrollment management, K-12 partnerships and other areas. On the national level, he serves on the Commission on Student Success for the American Association of Community Colleges.

Prior to joining VGCC, Brown served as Dean of Arts & Sciences at Lenoir Community College. He has been engaged in higher education work for nearly two decades. Brown holds a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University, a master’s degree in library science from North Carolina Central University, and a doctorate in educational leadership with a focus on higher education from ECU.

Together, the 2021-22 fellows are leaders at colleges that collectively serve more than 400,000 students. To date, 67 Rising Presidents Fellowship alumni have become presidents of community colleges that collectively serve an additional 953,000 students nationwide.


2021-22 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows

Aarti Dhupelia, National Louis University (IL)

Aisha Noni Lowe, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CA)

Arlene Rodriguez, Middlesex Community College (MA)

Cedric Bradley, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MS)

Clarissa Cota, College of Southern Nevada (NV)

Cory Clasemann, Ivy Tech Community College (IN)

Denise Douglas, Lorain County Community College (OH)

Diane Stiles, Lake Area Technical College (SD)

Edgar Soto, Pima Community College (AZ)

Eric Dunker, Arapahoe Community College (CO)

George Timmons, Columbia-Greene Community College (NY)

Heather Bigard, Lake-Sumter State College (FL)

Helen Castellanos Brewer, SUNY Rockland Community College (NY)

Iris Freemon, Dallas College (TX)

Jean Marie Runyon, Front Range Community College (CO)

Jennifer Diane Eccles, Minnesota State HealthForce Center of Excellence (MN)

Jessica Robinson, Cuyamaca College (CA)

Kate Connor, Harry S Truman (IL)

Kathryn Anne Rogalski, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (WI)

Kimberly Hurns, Washtenaw Community College (MI)

Kristen Raney, Saint Paul College (MN)

Lamata Mitchell, Pima Community College (AZ)

Levy Brown, Jr., Vance-Granville Community College (NC)

Lizette Navarette, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CA)

Michelle Schutt, College of Southern Idaho (ID)

Mike Munoz, Long Beach City College (CA)

Monica Parrish Trent, Achieving the Dream, Inc. (MD)

John Maduko, Minnesota State Community and Technical College (MN)

Pamela Poh-Ling Lau, Parkland College (IL)

Ryan Ross, Colorado Community College Students (CO)

Sanjay Rai, Montgomery College (MD)

Shawnda Navarro Floyd, Dallas College (TX)

Terricita Edreana Sass, Reynolds Community College (VA)

Tiffany Hunter, Clark State College (OH)

Tina Maria King, Southwestern Community College District (CA)

Tracie Sawyer Clark, Central Piedmont Community College (NC)

Uppinder Mehan, West Kentucky Community and Technical College (KY)

Van Allen Wigginton, San Jacinto College (TX)

William Comey, College of Southern Maryland (MD)

Yoshiko Harden, Seattle Central College (WA)


About the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices and leadership strategies that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Aspen Presidential Fellowship, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of students from low-income backgrounds and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org and follow on Twitter at @AspenHigherEd.

About the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative

The Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative (SELI) advances the critical cause of diversity, equity and inclusion in learning science and postsecondary education leadership.  SELI’s research practice partnership with the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has enabled faculty from the Stanford Graduate Schools of Education, Business and Engineering to host and prepare 200 Aspen Presidential Fellows to lead U.S. community colleges for student success in graduation and preparation for workforce advancement.  For more information, visit seli.stanford.edu

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.

picture of Dr. Levy Brown