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First class of PCC leadership academy graduates

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The first-ever cohort of PCC’s Leadership Excellence and Development Academy. (Photo by James Hill)

Sometimes leaders make their presence known. And sometimes they need a gentle nudge.

Portland Community College last week celebrated the graduation of the first class of the Leadership Excellence and Development Academy, a leader-in-training program created in 2008 by President Preston Pulliams.

The LEAD Academy is an intensive, eight-month-long leadership training program for PCC managers and faculty department chairs, according to Linda Blanchette, who organized the program. It emphasizes the development of leadership skills through the application of leadership concepts to real-life contexts.

“Participants progress through the program as a cohort team,” Blanchette said, “working throughout the year on a project that will benefit the college and also serves as a laboratory where participants can immediately put into practice the latest concepts in leadership presented in the LEAD training sessions.”

President Pulliams attended the graduation ceremony. “It’s been wonderful watching this group blossom. That have such amazing potential. PCC will benefit from their experience for years to come.”

The graduates include: Teresa Alonso, director of the College Assistance Migrant Program, Rock Creek; Jennifer Boehmer, assistant manager of Marketing, Sylvania; Tonya Booker, director of Community Education, Central Portland Workforce Training Center; Linda Degman, associate bond program director, Sylvania; Jean Garcia-Chitwood, director of Upward Bound, Sylvania; Keith Gregory, interim director of physical plant, Sylvania; Michael Heuer, customer support manager for Technology Solution Services, Sylvania; Sue Quast, media production manager, Sylvania; Deborah Sipe, director of child development, Sylvania; Joy Jerome Turtola, assistant director of workforce development, Portland Metro Workforce Training Center; and DeBorah Williams, director of the Evening Trades Apprenticeship Program, Cascade.

Williams said she has benefitted from being in the program. “For a newcomer, it’s a great pathway into understanding and appreciating the works of PCC,” she said, “as well as enhancing leadership skills to provide positive support to the organization’s current and future mission.”

Alonso seconded that. “It gave me an opportunity to develop relationships and start partnerships with managers from different departments across the district,” she said. “It was great getting to know all the participants and it gave me a greater appreciation to what other managers do for our institution.

“One thing that I have appreciated about PCC is the commitment they have in developing great leadership within the institution,” Alonso added. “Through this experience, I have added more tools to my belt so that I can be a better manager, a stronger leader and a more efficient support system to those who need my help.”

For Booker, the academy helped strengthen her ability to be an effective community college leader. “The content ranged from personal assessment to systems thinking and I gained tools and strategies applicable to my daily work,” she said. “I also developed a new network of peers who represent the diversity of our PCC missions and our shared vision.”

For more information on the LEAD Program, contact Blanchette at or (503) 977-4251.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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