November 4 (Virtual)
May 16-17 (South Dakota)
November 10-11 (Colorado)
48 member board overseeing the management and control of WICHE
The WICHE Commission oversees the development of WICHE programs and assures that the Western Regional Compact is carried out for the benefit of the citizens of the West. WICHE’s 48 commissioners are appointed by the governors of the 15 Western states and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States. The commissioners are leaders in higher education and include state higher education executive officers, college and university presidents, legislators, business and community leaders, and other key partners. In accordance with the organization’s bylaws, the WICHE Commission has three primary responsibilities:
The commission also appoints members of the WICHE Legislative Advisory Committee which, though not technically a formal commission committee, is composed of WICHE-region legislators as well as several commissioners.
November 4 (Virtual)
May 16-17 (South Dakota)
November 10-11 (Colorado)
*Executive Committee Member
WICHE Commission Chair, President/CEO, The CIRI Foundation
Susan Anderson, president and CEO of The CIRI Foundation and a WICHE commissioner representing the state of Alaska, was elected Chair of the WICHE Commission in November 2020. Anderson has worked for The CIRI Foundation since October 1999 and has been its president/CEO since April 2000. The foundation’s mission is to promote individual self-development and economic self-sufficiency through education and to maintain pride in culture and heritage among Alaska Natives in the Cook Inlet region and their descendants. Its staff manages postsecondary scholarships and grants, research and other education projects. Anderson has advanced the work of the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force: Alaska’s Early Childhood Investment and served as the chair of Best Beginnings Early Learning Council which was formed to implement the task force recommendations. She also serves on the board of Alaska Children’s Trust. Prior to joining the foundation, she was manager of the continuing education programs for SPIE—The International Society for Optical Engineering, a not-for-profit scientific organization. Anderson also consulted with National Alliance for Photonics Education in Manufacturing partners around the United States to facilitate communication and effective implementation of programs among universities, technical institutes and industry members. She received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s in adult education administration from Western Washington University.
Senior Fellow, National Association of System Heads
Jim Johnsen is the Senior Fellow for the National Association of System Heads. His passion for the value of higher education in economic development, civic engagement, and social mobility spans a career in higher education, government, and private industry.
His most recent leadership role was President of the University of Alaska System (UA) from 2015-2020, where he led the system through an historically challenging period marked by severe cuts in state funding, declining enrollment, and the COVID-19 pandemic. His accomplishments include leading UA’s response to a federal Title IX review, increasing consolidation and coordination of academic and administrative units, implementing pay equity and market salary adjustments for faculty and staff, proposing federal legislation to remedy UA’s historic land grant deficit, advocating public support for higher education, supporting numerous initiatives to drive student success, negotiating a resolution to major budget cuts with the governor, creating a long term vision for UA’s future as of 2040 and goals for 2025, and leading UA’s first ever statewide philanthropic campaign.
Jim’s education includes a BA in politics from the University of California Santa Cruz, an AM in political science from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.
Commissioner, Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education
Donn Liston is a retired Alaska teacher and an experienced journalist. Mr. Liston worked for the Anchorage Daily News as a Staff Writer and photographer during construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Over the course of his career, he has taught in Juneau, Haines and Anchorage. He lived in Yakutat during part of his youth. He worked as an aide to two Alaska Legislators, once during the 1983 legislative session and again in 2018. Mr. Liston has resided in Alaska since 1962 and is married to Waneta Borden Liston. He taught Adult Basic Education in Mt. View and Wasilla over 9 years. Today, he is a professional Alaskan writer and storyteller and enjoys being a creative voice for other Alaskans.
Mr. Liston has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Alaska Southeast. Between 2003 and 2019 he held an Alaska Type A Teaching Certificate. In addition, Mr. Liston was the recipient of BP Alaska’s 2013 Teacher of Excellence award.
Executive Director, Arizona Board of Regents
John Arnold was named executive director of the Arizona Board of Regents in July 2018. He is responsible for guiding the board’s strategic plan, with ambitious goals to increase educational attainment by 2025 and to advance the public higher education enterprise to serve students and impact Arizona’s economy. Arnold had served as interim managing director of the board beginning in May 2018, and had joined the board office in March 2015 as vice president of business management and financial affairs, developing financial policies and procedures for the university enterprise, addressing capital development and state budget requests, and coordinating systemwide analysis of complex financial issues.
With more than 20 years serving Arizona, Arnold brings significant public service experience and a deep commitment to higher education to the position. He has an exceptional background in financial affairs and a proven track record of leadership, having served as Gov. Jan Brewer’s state budget director, a role in which he was instrumental in providing fiscal direction and solutions for the state during the Great Recession, and in implementing the budget and advising the governor on related matters. Throughout his career, he has worked with leaders in education from K-12 to college. As director of the Arizona School Facilities Board, he managed programs for new school construction, building renewal, and energy savings. Arnold is married with five children. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and his master’s degrees in accounting and public administration from Brigham Young University.
President Emerita, Northern Arizona University
Rita Hartung Cheng serves as President Emerita for Northern Arizona University, which enrolls more than 31,000 students in nearly 250 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. President Cheng’s strategic focus is to expand upon the university’s historical strengths, providing access to an affordable quality education for all students and pursuing the discovery, advancement, and application of knowledge in research areas unique and important to the region. Previously, she was chancellor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and she spent more than 20 years on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, serving in various administrative roles including provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. She is internationally recognized for her research in government and nonprofit accounting. She earned a Ph.D. in accounting from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management, an M.B.A. from the University of Rhode Island, and a bachelor’s in business administration from Bishop’s University in Quebec. Committed to service, Dr. Cheng also serves on a variety of local and national boards.
President/CEO, Midwestern University
Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D., has since 1995 been president and chief executive officer of Midwestern University, an upper-division institution specializing in graduate-level health professions with two campuses (in Downers Grove, IL and Glendale, AZ) enrolling 7,200 students. Previously, Goeppinger had been a tenured professor and director at Loyola University Chicago for the Institute of Industrial Relations and Center for Organizational Development. Prior to her time in academia, she worked in the private sector as a management consultant in health care and organizational development and held corporate management roles in human resources and training. She has served Midwestern University since 1985, initially serving on the board of trustees and as chairman of the board. She is a member of numerous boards of directors in the Greater Phoenix and Downers Grove areas, and among other honors was named as one of 25 most admired CEOs by the Phoenix Business Journal for her leadership, dedication to, and impact on higher education. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, and her master’s degree in industrial relations and doctorate in comparative international policy from Loyola University in Chicago.
Professor, Sacramento State University
Christopher Cabaldon is a partner at Capitol Impact LLC, and a professor at Sacramento State University. His professional career in education policy in California spans more than two decades. He served as Mayor of West Sacramento from 1998 to December 2020, and was the first mayor elected directly by the voters of the city, after serving three terms on the city council. His local and regional leadership on school facilities, effective governance, universal preschool, research-based reform, and workforce/education alignment have resulted in both scholarly recognition and improved student outcomes. After serving as Director of the Assembly Higher Education Committee and then Chief of Staff to the Assembly Appropriations Committee chairwoman, Mr. Cabaldon served five years as Vice Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, with executive responsibility for policy, strategic initiatives, planning, technology, data systems, governmental advocacy and intersegmental relations, and public affairs.
Cabaldon’s work on transportation, land use, water, air quality and climate change, housing, and economic development at the local, regional, and statewide scales has won numerous awards, and has become the model for effective regional collaborative action. He chaired the groundbreaking Blueprint for the Future land use-transportation-air quality project of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, and the development of all three of the region’s pioneering transportation investment plans since 1998. He chaired the region’s Partnership for Prosperity project.
Mr. Cabaldon earned his B.S. in environmental economics from UC Berkeley, where later served on the alumni association board, and a Master of Public Policy & Administration degree from CSU Sacramento, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award.
President, California State University, Stanislaus
Ellen Junn is the 11th president of California State University. As President of Stan State, she has established a strong reputation for displaying a focus for implementing new and innovative programs for student success, especially for non-traditional students, supporting a number of initiatives including Freshman Convocation, Freshman Year Experience seminars and Design Your Life courses, as well as building new state-of-the art technology-enhanced Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs). Other initiatives support faculty success with enhanced funding for research, scholarly and creative activity, use of high impact practices, and supporting numerous faculty learning communities. Another key area of focus has been promoting institutional inclusion.
Dr. Junn has a remarkable and extensive 35-year history with the CSU, having worked at five other CSU campuses prior to joining Stan State. She served as provost and vice president at CSU Dominguez Hills, provost and vice president at San Jose State University, associate provost at Fresno State, associate dean of the College of Health and Human Development at CSU Fullerton, and assistant professor at CSU San Bernardino. She also served as a visiting professor at Indiana University.
President Junn earned a bachelor’s degree in experimental and cognitive psychology from the University of Michigan, where she graduated cum laude and received high honors in psychology. She obtained both a master’s and Ph.D. in cognitive and developmental psychology from Princeton University. In addition, she holds a Management Development Program Certificate from Harvard University. She is widely published and has written numerous peer-reviewed research and journal articles on topics, such as supporting the success of underserved students, the importance of university-community engagement and strategies for supporting non-tenure-track faculty — especially women and minorities, as well as promoting innovative teaching strategies.
She is the first Korean-American woman president appointed in the US to a four-year public institution.
Director of Higher Education Excellence and Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation
Robert Shireman is director of higher education excellence and senior fellow at The Century Foundation working on education policy with a focus on affordability, quality assurance, and consumer protections.
He served in the Clinton White House as a senior policy advisor to the National Economic Council, and in the Obama administration as deputy undersecretary of education. In 2004 he founded The Institute for College Access & Success, and in 2011 launched the policy organization California Competes.
In his various roles since 1989 Shireman has led successful efforts to reform student loans, streamline the financial aid process, promote campus diversity, and protect consumers from predatory colleges. He has shepherded the evolution of the nation’s income-based student loan repayment system from its initial adoption in 1992 to its expansion and improvement by President Barack Obama. He organized the federal response to emerging signs of predatory for-profit career training in 2009, leading to a widely discussed set of regulatory reforms and enforcement actions. Shireman’s analysis of local needs in California prompted changes in the funding formula for that state’s community colleges, following on his earlier work to improve the ethnic and economic diversity of California’s private colleges. He led an effort that significantly simplified the process of applying for federal college aid, and pressed for and ultimately won the elimination of costly middlemen from the federal loan programs so that more grant aid could be made available to low-income students.
Under Shireman’s leadership, in 2018 The Century Foundation won a contract with the State of California to develop recommendations for reforming the state’s approach to college affordability. In addition to his role at Century, Shireman serves on the board of uAspire, a national nonprofit that helps low-income students find quality, affordable college options, and The Opportunity Institute, an education policy think tank.
Executive Director, Latin American Educational Foundation (LAEF)
Jim Chavez is executive director of the Latin American Educational Foundation (LAEF), a Colorado nonprofit providing college assistance (including direct scholarship support) and guidance to Colorado Latino students and their families. Established in 1949, LAEF is Colorado’s oldest Latino nonprofit.
Chavez has worked much of his professional life for education-related causes. As a board member and staff member of the Colorado Student Obligation Bond Authority, he was instrumental in creating Colorado’s first prepaid college tuition program, now known as CollegeInvest, and then worked across the U.S. to develop and implement numerous state college savings programs, or Section 529 plans. He began his career as a certified public accountant with Ernst & Young.
Chavez is a member of the board of commissioners for the Denver Housing Authority and a member of the board of directors for the Colorado Nonprofit Association. He is a former trustee for the Clayton Early Learning Center, past board member for the Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Corporation, and a past member of the board of trustees for the University of Northern Colorado. He is a graduate of Colorado State University.
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Colorado Denver
Antwan Jefferson is a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver. In his work, Antwan teaches in the Human Development and Family Relations program, the Urban Community Teacher Education program, and the Urban and Diverse Communities concentration of the Leadership for Educational Equity EdD program. His teaching emphasizes achieving social justice, increasing an asset-based emphasis on diverse families, and supporting stronger and deeper community engagement in the schooling education of students through the pre-service training of helping professionals and teachers. His research agenda considers the ways that family and community members experience schools and organizations in their communities, including the implications of space, voice, and power in decision-making and not-for-profit organizations and schools. Antwan also is the faculty liaison for community-based partnerships in the SEHD’s Office of Partnerships. He earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Innovation from CU Denver in 2013, following completion of a dissertation entitled “(Un)Invited Families: Locating the Institutional Power of School at Work Against the Involvement of Families.”
Executive Director, Colorado Department of Higher Education
Angie Paccione was appointed executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education by Gov. Jared Polis in January, 2019. Paccione has more than 20 years of experience in secondary and postsecondary education. She was a high school teacher, coach, and administrator at Smoky Hill High School before earning a doctorate in education and human resource studies from Colorado State University. Paccione served on the CSU faculty for nine years as a teacher educator in the “Project Promise” program and conducted research in the teacher education field, examining educators’ life events that led them to commit to issues of diversity and inclusion. Her findings, which informed a teacher preparation program, were published in Teacher’s College Press and have been cited in more than 75 academic papers.
In 2002, Paccione elected to two terms in the Colorado House of Representatives, rising to become house majority caucus chair. She served on the education committee during all four years in the legislature, helping guide Colorado’s education environment. In 2006, she ran for U.S. Congress and came within 2.5 percent of unseating the incumbent.
From 2007 through early 2019, Paccione worked for Verus Global, where she specialized in leadership development, diversity and inclusion, talent development, and change management. She has worked with leaders from the shop floor to the C-suite in 40 countries and all 50 states and has co-authored two books on leadership.
Growing up biracial in New York City, attending college in California and residing in Colorado, Paccione bridges many divides. She was raised to believe you can accomplish anything to which you set your mind. Playing basketball at Stanford University and professionally in the 1980s, Paccione likes to say that she is as committed to your success as she is her own.
WICHE Commission Vice Chair, President, University of Hawai'i
David Lassner is the 15th president of University of Hawaiʻi (UH). In that capacity he leads the 10-campus system as well as the flagship research university, UH Mānoa. He has worked at the UH since 1977, most recently as its first vice president for information technology and chief information officer. As a member of UH’s graduate faculty, he has taught both online and in-person in computer science, communications, business, and education. Lassner served on the boards of Hawai‘i’s High Technology Development Corporation and Public Broadcasting Service affiliate and chaired the state’s broadband task force. Lassner also served on the board of Internet2 and was a co-founder and board member of the Kuali Foundation, a founding steering committee member and past-chair of WICHE’s Western Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), and past-chair of the boards of the Pacific Telecommunications Council and of EDUCAUSE. He is currently a board member of the National Association of System Heads (NASH), and on the Board of Governors of the East West Center. Lassner earned a bachelors’ in economics and a master’s in computer science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in communication and information sciences from University of Hawai‘i.
Vice President Emeritus, University of Hawai'i Community Colleges
John Morton is the vice president emeritus of the University of Hawai’i Community Colleges. Morton retired after nearly 49 years with the Hawai’i community colleges, including 21 years as CEO of Kapi‘olani Community College and 14 years as Vice President for Community Colleges. As Vice President, he oversaw the seven-community-college system and led the development of the Hawai’i Promise scholarship program that offers support to meet all unmet financial need for eligible students; oversaw the development of a unified University of Hawai’i system student information system and student success initiatives, especially for Native Hawaiian students; and was active on boards of both local and national organizations. Morton earned a B.S. in chemistry and M.A. in political science from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in communication and information sciences from the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa.
Vice President Emeritus, University of Hawai'i
Colleen Sathre is vice president emeritus of planning and policy of the University of Hawaii, where she served the university system as the chief academic planning officer for more than 25 years. She managed efforts that produced university mission statements and strategic plans, tuition schedules, university centers on neighbor islands, performance indicators, a reorganization of university information technology services, and numerous board and executive policies. She co-authored the book, “The Art and Politics of Academic Governance” in 2007 with Kenneth Mortimer, president emeritus of the University of Hawaii and Western Washington University. Sathre holds a B.A. from the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN; and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.
President, College of Eastern Idaho
Rick Aman was selected in December 2017 as inaugural president of College of Eastern Idaho, Idaho Falls, created by citizen vote in May 2017. Previously Aman had been president of Eastern Idaho Technical College since July 2015 and interim vice president of student services at Umpqua Community College. He was vice president of instruction and student affairs at the College of Western Idaho from 2008-12, Aman led the then-startup CWI in instruction, curriculum development, and student affairs areas. Aman’s community college administration career began in 1992 at Portland Community College with 16 years of teaching and administrative responsibilities at various campuses around Portland. Originally from Oregon, Aman was commissioned as a U.S. Air Force officer after college and spent four years as an active duty pilot before returning to the Portland area as an Air Force Reserve instructor pilot. He retired as a lieutenant colonel with 21 years of service and 5,000 flight hours. Aman has a doctorate in community college leadership from Oregon State University, a master’s in business administration from Golden Gate University, and a Bachelor of Science in education from Western Oregon University. Aman and his wife of 39 years, Linda, have two grown sons living in Portland.
Executive Director, Office of the Idaho State Board of Education
Matt Freeman is the executive director of the Idaho State Board of Education. The board is constitutionally charged with providing general supervision, governance and control of all public education (K – 20) in the state. Previously, Freeman served as the board’s deputy director & chief fiscal officer for over five years. Prior to working for the board, Freeman spent nine years at the Idaho Legislative Services Office, Budget & Policy Analysis Division; the last four years as principal analyst for higher education. Freeman’s professional experience also includes private sector government relations and communications work, and time in Washington D.C. where he served as counsel/legislative assistant for a member of Congress. Freeman was awarded his J.D. from the University of Idaho and received his B.A. degree in political studies from Whitworth University in Spokane, WA.
Senator, Idaho State Legislature
Senator Dave Lent represents District 33 in the Idaho State Senate, where he is a member of the education and agricultural affairs committees. He is sitewide training manager for Fluor Idaho at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), where he oversees both regulatory and facility-specific training programs and served as chair for the Energy Facilities Contracting Group. He received a Distinguished Leadership award from the Department of Energy for regulatory reform and cost-cutting initiatives, has consulted in the nuclear power industry in radiation protection and training, has managed several multimillion-dollar projects, and has participated in mission-critical activities at the INL since 1980. He served on the Idaho Falls School District 91 Board of Trustees, where he played a key role in replacing four elementary schools and transitioning a junior high into a successful project-based high school. A graduate of Eastern Idaho Technical College and Idaho State University, he and his wife, Terri, have five children and twelve grandchildren.
Representative, Montana State Legislature
Laurie Bishop resides in Livingston, MT, where she is representing her community in the Montana State House of Representatives. When not working as a legislator, Laurie is the Director of the Montana Afterschool Alliance. Her previous work has included improving statewide high school graduation rates with the Montana Office of Public Instruction and serving as the executive director of a youth development nonprofit.
Commissioner of Higher Education, Montana University System
For over a decade, Clayton Christian has proudly served the students of Montana. During his tenure on the Board of Regents (5/2006-12/2011) Christian was a champion for common course numbering, tuition freezes, and other system initiatives aimed at increasing student access, success, and affordability. As chair of the Board of Regents, he continued to focus on implementing measures to improve system accountability, transparency, productivity, and increased confidence in higher education. He was and continues to be an advocate for increased opportunities in distance learning, a measure that continues to have a significant impact on a state that encompasses over 147,000 square miles. In 2012, Christian was asked to continue his service to Montana as the Commissioner of Higher Education. Under his leadership and on behalf of the Board of Regents and in partnership with university presidents, he has elevated Montana’s educational system that serves nearly 45,000 students and 9,000 faculty annually at 16 public colleges and universities. As commissioner, Christian has leveraged public and private partnerships to dramatically increase growth in workforce development, implemented innovative state investments which yielded record amounts of university-based research, and implemented performance-based funding with institutional incentives for student retention.
Past President, University of Montana
Dr. Sheila M. Stearns has served in senior administrative positions in higher education, including president of the University of Montana, vice president of UM, chancellor of UM-Western, president of Wayne State College in Nebraska, and commissioner of higher education in Montana. Early in her career she was a school librarian and taught middle school classes in Department of Defense schools in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Since 2012, Stearns has served as a Senior Fellow for the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (AGB), consulting for boards across the country, from Guam to Florida.
Stearns holds three UM degrees, in English, history, and educational leadership. She and her husband, Hal, a retired educator and brigadier general (R) in the Montana National Guard, both travel and speak extensively on issues such as western historic trails, rural revitalization, college access, and importance of smooth transfer of credits for all students, including K-12 students in military families. They have two children and six grandchildren. She is retired and lives in Missoula, MT.
Executive Director, Nevada State Board of Nursing
Catherine (Cathy) Dinauer, MSN RN, FRE, BC-NE, is the Executive Director of the Nevada State Board of Nursing. In her role, she has overall responsibility for the regulatory agency’s daily operations, which licenses/certifies approximately 65,000 RNs, LPNs, CNAs, and APRNs in Nevada. Before her role as executive director, Ms. Dinauer was the Chief Nursing Officer at a 200-bed facility in Nevada. She has over 40 years of experience as a registered nurse in education, emergency nursing, and leadership. She is a Fellow of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Institute of Regulatory Excellence, a Graduate of the Advisory Board Academy Fellowship, and was the 2017 recipient of the Northern Nevada Nurse of Achievement in Nursing Leadership.
Professor, Truckee Meadows Community College
Fred Lokken is dean of WebCollege and a tenured professor of political science at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. He served as chair of the Nevada Distance Education Directors Group for seven years and has been a board member of the Instructional Technology Council (ITC)—an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) since 2003. He also served as chair-elect, chair and past-chair of the ITC. Lokken also currently serves as chair of the Coalition of Affiliated Councils (COAC) of the AACC. He has been a member of the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) National Academic Integrity Task force for the past two years. He received a B.S. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, a master’s in political science from Washington State University, and completed coursework in political science toward a doctorate from the University of British Columbia.
Chancellor, Nevada System of Higher Education
Melody Rose is the chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. During a 25-year career in higher education, Melody Rose has been a leader as an academic faculty member and administrator, with a focus on improving student access and success in higher education in Oregon. Her leadership roles have included serving as the chancellor of the Oregon University System, Portland State University’s vice provost for academic programs and instruction and dean of undergraduate studies, and chair of Portland State’s Division of Political Science. Prior to creating and running the consulting firm Rose Strategies, LLC, Dr. Rose most recently served as president of Marylhurst University from 2014 to 2019.
Chief Government Relations Officer and Professor, University of New Mexico
Barbara Damron is currently the Chief Government Relations officer and a professor at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing. She also holds a faculty appointment at the UNM School of Medicine’s Department of Family & Community Medicine. Prior to that, she served as New Mexico’s Cabinet Secretary of Higher Education for four years.
On the national level, Damron has been a Congressional Fellow in the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP); an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; a Congressional Fellow for Senator Lamar Alexander; Commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE); Commissioner of the Education Commission of the States; and sits on the Board of Directors of Complete College America.
Damron’s long professional history spans over 35 years – 20 in New Mexico – including being a leader in education, a health care executive, an advanced practice nurse, a college professor, an international consultant, and a cancer scientist. She has built positive and extensive relationships within the state’s higher education community, as well as within the Legislative and Executive branches. She has also worked alongside community and state leaders on the promotion of civic engagement and was featured as a panelist at the Hispanic Leadership Institute’s (USHLI) “Latinas in Politics” forum last year at UNM.
Damron received a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, a Master of Science in nursing from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Senator, New Mexico State Legislature
Mark Moores of Albuquerque has served in the New Mexico Senate since 2013. He is also the executive director of the New Mexico Dental Association. Moores served on the staff of the late Congressman Steve Schiff and as a chief-of-staff for Lt. Governor Walter Bradley in the Gov. Gary Johnson/Bradley administration. Moores has served as a former president of the UNM Letterman Association and currently is a board member of the UNM Lobo Club. He attended the University of New Mexico on a football scholarship and received a B.A. in political science while being a four-year letterman on the offensive line for the Lobos. Moores also earned a Master of Business Administration from the UNM Anderson School of Management.
Director, Office of Strategic Initiatives, New Mexico State University
Patricia Sullivan is the Director, Office of Strategic Initiatives at the New Mexico State University where she directs statewide engineering outreach services under the college’s Engineering New Mexico Resource Network in areas including technical engineering business assistance, professional development, and educational outreach programs. She also provides direction for the college’s corporate relations and student career services. Sullivan is the New Mexico affiliate director for Project Lead the Way, a national program to expand the STEM pipeline. She is also a member of the board of directors for Enchantment Land Certified Development Company (a program that certifies SBA 504 loans in support of economic development). Sullivan received her Ph.D. in industrial engineering with a focus on renewable energy regulatory policy, a master’s degree in public utility economics, and a bachelor’s degree in biology, all from NMSU.
Chancellor, North Dakota University System
Mark R. Hagerott became chancellor of the North Dakota University System in July 2015. Prior to this appointment, he held leadership positions in the U.S. Navy and in administrative positions in the Department of Defense. A certified naval nuclear engineer in power generation and distribution, he served as chief engineer for a major environmental project defueling two atomic reactors. Hagerott has also held numerous academic leadership roles, serving in Annapolis as the dean of humanities and social sciences, special assistant to the provost, chair of the admissions board, chairmanship of senior faculty senate committees pertaining to assessment and accreditation. He also served as a planning and strategy director in one of the largest U.S. Army educational organizations, NATO Training Mission, which included the Afghanistan army, police, air force, and medical school programs. Hagerott holds a B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy, an M.A. in political science and economics from Oxford University where he attended as a Rhodes Scholar, and a Ph.D. in history from University of Maryland, and served as a White House Fellow in the President George H. W. Bush administration.
Senator, North Dakota State Legislature
Ray Holmberg has served in the North Dakota Senate since 1977 and he chairs its appropriations and rules committees, he has held these roles for the past eight legislative sessions. He has served on WICHE’s Legislative Advisory Committee since 2008. Holmberg worked for many years as a high school guidance counselor in Grand Forks before retiring from that position in 2002. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a B.S. in education in 1965 and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance.
Superintendent, New Rockford-Sheyenne School District
Jill Louters began her term of service with the State Board of Higher Education July 1, 2018. Louters has 32 years of experience in education, currently serving in her eighth year as the superintendent for the New Rockford-Sheyenne School District. Her district received the Governor’s System Innovation Award in 2018 and the National Blue-Ribbon Award in 2019 based on superior student achievement. Her district is currently working with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction on a collaborative, five-year grant to redefine customized, personalized learning across the state of North Dakota for all PK-12 learners.
A native of southern Minnesota, Louters worked as a social studies teacher, coach and middle school principal prior to assuming a position on the faculty of Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota.
Louters completed her undergraduate degree at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn., and her master’s degree in education administration at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In 2017, she was the first North Dakota superintendent to complete her National Superintendent Certificate through the American Association of School Administrators and is currently completing her doctoral dissertation through St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.
Louters has held membership on the New Rockford Chamber of Commerce, New Rockford Area Betterment Corporation, Sheyenne Economic Development Council and as a carded 4-H Horse Show Judge. She has traveled extensively, training university staff in Europe, South Africa and Thailand. She is the mother of four children who reside in Sheyenne, North Dakota.
Executive Director, Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission
Executive Director of the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission since 2013. In this position, Cannon oversees state funding allocations, policy-setting, and coordination for Oregon’s higher education system, including community colleges and public universities. Cannon is a former teacher, state representative and education policy advisor to the Governor. Elected three times to the Oregon House of Representatives (2006-2011), he chaired House committees with jurisdiction over environment, energy, and water policy. From 2003 to 2011, he taught humanities at a middle school near Portland. He earned his BA from Washington University, St. Louis, and attended Oxford University, England, on a Rhodes Scholarship, earning graduate degrees in comparative and international education and philosophy, politics, and economics.
WICHE Commission Immediate Past Chair, Executive Director, Oregon Community College Association
Camille (Cam) Preus is executive director of the Oregon Community College Association, a role she began in Fall 2018. Previously she had been president of Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC) serving Morrow, Umatilla and Baker counties in Oregon. Preus serves on numerous regional/national boards that champion and advocate for increasing opportunity for post secondary education, a few of note include: AACC Presidents Academy Executive Committee, the AACC Advocacy Advisory Committee, Eastern Oregon Women’s Coalition, Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) (immediate past chair), and the Eastern Oregon Workforce Board. Prior to her appointment as President in 2013, Preus held leadership roles in Oregon in community colleges & workforce development at both state and local levels. She also has private sector experience as a chemist and quality control manager with United States Steel. Preus graduated from Cumberland College (TN), Middle Tennessee State University, earned an MSBA from Indiana University and received her doctorate in Community College Leadership from Oregon State University.
Educational Policy Consultant
Hilda Rosselli has an extensive background in higher education with experience as a faculty member and dean in both Florida and Oregon, and policy development for the state of Oregon. She helped create a Chief Education Office where she facilitated development of the state’s definition of College and Career readiness and championed legislation to improve early access to high quality college level courses for high school students. She regularly engaged community leaders, educators and researchers across the state to identify and promote short and long term goals and plans for increasing college access and completion for historically-underserved students working closely with lead staff from the Oregon Youth Development Council, the Oregon Department of Education and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. She assisted in the creation and launch of the Oregon Equity Lens, established the Educator Advancement Council to prioritize local educator voice informing biennial legislative investments, created a new state-funded scholarship to diversify Oregon’s educator workforce, and developed strong partnerships between higher education and employers. She now consults and writes grants with a focus on equity, access, and excellence.
Executive Director and CEO, South Dakota Board of Regents
Brian L. Maher was appointed June 24, 2020, to lead South Dakota’s six public universities and two special schools as the Board of Regents’ executive director and chief executive officer. Dr. Maher began his duties with the Board of Regents in the Pierre central office July 6, 2020.
Dr. Maher’s experience in educational administration includes 21 years as a superintendent of K-12 school systems. He came to the Board of Regents after five years as superintendent of the Sioux Falls School District, South Dakota’s largest public school district serving more than 23,000 students. He was superintendent of schools in two Nebraska districts, Kearney and Centennial, from 1999 to 2015.
A Nebraska native, he also worked as a school principal and began his career in education teaching mathematics, computer science, and physics. He was honored as Nebraska’s superintendent of the year in 2015.
He holds a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Nebraska and a master’s degree, also in educational administration, from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His bachelor’s degree in mathematics education is from Midland Lutheran College (now Midland University) in Fremont, Neb. Maher’s family includes his wife, Peg, and together they have three grown children, Lindsey, Brett, and Maggie.
The South Dakota Board of Regents is the constitutional governing body for Black Hills State University, Dakota State University, Northern State University, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, South Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, South Dakota School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, and South Dakota School for the Deaf.
Representative, South Dakota Legislature
Larry Tidemann is a former State Senator from South Dakota. He was elected to the South Dakota Legislature for 14 years with terms in both the House of Representatives and the State Senate. He represented District 7 in Brookings, SD, which included the community where South Dakota State University is located. He served on the Appropriations Committee throughout all 14 years of his tenure in the legislature and for 11 years he was Chair or Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee. He also was appointed to the Retirement Laws Committee and served as chair of the Legislature’s Executive Board, and the Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC), during his time in the legislature.
Larry has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from South Dakota State University. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from SDSU in 2019. Larry is retired from South Dakota State University where he was an Associate Dean of Agriculture and Director of the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service.
Vice President, Learning, Education and Development, Sanford Health
Diana VanderWoude has over 38 years of experience in healthcare administration, education, and regulation. She is the Vice President of Learning, Education and Development (LEAD) for Sanford Health; one of the largest health systems in the United States with 50,000 employees and healthcare facilities in 26 states and 9 countries. Diana is a Registered Nurse with a master’s degree from South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Nursing Administration. She was recently recognized as a Distinguished Alumna for SDSU in 2018.
Education and workforce development have been core to Diana’s passion as a leader. In her role at Sanford Health, she oversees learning strategies, collaborative academic partnerships, and career development across the enterprise. Prior to joining Sanford Health in 2002, Diana served 11 years as the Executive Director for the SD Board of Nursing and helped lead efforts to implement the multi-state nursing compact and creation of the health-professionals assistance program (HPAP). She has held leadership roles at the state and national level, including various boards and advisory councils. She currently serves on the Build Dakota Scholarship Board and on the SD Board of Technical Education.
Diana has been a life-long resident of SD. Her husband, Jurek, was born in Poland and is a sculptor/artist. They have five children: Skye, Cole, Alexy, Kristian and Luca. They enjoy traveling and many outdoor activities.
Vice President, Administration and Advancement, Northern Marianas College
Frankie Eliptico is Vice President, Administration and Advancement at Northern Marianas College (NMC). He has played an integral leadership role in NMC recovery efforts in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu. His work on NMC marketing and branding efforts has been recognized nationally, and he was named Communicator of the Year in the District VI (Western U.S.) region of the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. In addition to being a WICHE Commissioner, he has served as chair of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council and serves on the board of governors of the Asia Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies.
Attorney, Partner, Calvo Fisher & Jacob LLP
Rodney Jacob is a partner in Calvo Fisher & Jacob’s Guam office, past president of the Guam Bar Association and lawyer representative to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Guam. Jacob has worked extensively in leadership positions for schools and universities in the mainland U.S., Guam, Micronesia, and the Philippines to promote access to basic and higher education and for the purpose of advocating for those living on the margins in his community. In 2016 he took the lead in advocating for Guam’s membership in WICHE as part of the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States membership. Since that occurred three years ago, Jacob has worked to ensure that Guam’s and Micronesia’s political and educational leaders, students, and other stakeholders know of, and utilize, the benefits provided through WICHE.
Jacob has also worked extensively to improve the administration of justice within the local and federal courts throughout Guam and Micronesia. He is admitted to the bar in California, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Jacob received his B.S. and J.D. from Georgetown University. He was the law clerk to Judge Lawrence Howard, Arizona Court of Appeals (1989-1990) and to Chief Justice Jose Dela Cruz, CNMI Supreme Court (1993-1995). He grew up in Tucson, Arizona.
CEO, Women's Leadership Institute and Member of the Utah Board of Regents
Patricia Jones is the CEO of the Women’s Leadership Institute in Utah, an organization focused on elevating the leadership status of women in the state. Prior to this appointment she was the co-founder and former president of Dan Jones Associates for 35 years, a polling company based in Utah that conducts market research, economic analysis and strategy consulting for a variety of well-known national companies and organizations. Jones also served in the Utah legislature for 14 years, serving in leadership positions 12 of those years. She was a member of the Utah House of Representatives from 2000-2006 and was elected to the Utah Senate in 2006-2014, serving eight years there, including serving as the first female leader in either party and in either House. Jones currently is a member of the Utah Board of Regents, the Board of Governors of the Salt Lake Chamber, the Intermountain Healthcare Community Care Foundation, and a member of the National Advisory Board of the University of Utah School of Dentistry. Jones has served on the boards of United Way of Salt Lake, Utah Symphony and Opera, St. Mark’s Hospital, Hale Centre Theatre, Columbus Community Center, University of Utah Alumni Association, Coalition for People with Disabilities, This is the Place State Park, Coalition for the Understanding of Substance Abuse Disease, and Zions Bank Women’s Financial Group. She is a communications graduate from the University of Utah.
Senator, Utah State Legislature
Ann Millner serves as the state senator for Utah District 18. She serves in senate leadership as the senate majority assistant whip. She serves on several committees including the executive appropriations committee, the legislative management committee, co-chair of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Commission and the appropriations subcommittees for both public and higher education. Additionally, she is a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures executive committee. She has sponsored legislation focused on economic development specifically related to business development strategy and workforce preparation, public and higher education, and improving affordable health care. In 2018, she was awarded the Utah Business Legislator of the Year by the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Utah Technology Council Legislator of the Year.
She is a Regents Professor of Health Administration and former president at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Under Millner’s leadership as president from 2002 to 2012, Weber State became a multi-campus institution, experienced a nearly 40 percent increase in enrollment, initiated a major facilities revitalization effort, expanded its network of community partnerships, launched WSU-Davis, emerged as a regional center for economic development, and earned national recognition for its undergraduate research and community-based learning initiatives.
Millner currently serves on the board of trustees for Intermountain Healthcare, the board of directors for Merit Medical and the advisory board for Zions Bank. In addition, she is chair of Ogden United, and a member of the advisory board for the Kem Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, and the Governor’s Taskforce on Educational Excellence.
Commissioner of Higher Education, Utah System of Higher Education
Dave R. Woolstenhulme, Ed.D became Commissioner of Higher Education on July 1, 2020, after serving as Interim Commissioner of Higher Education since July 2019 for the Utah System of Higher Education. Previously, he served as Vice President of Statewide Campuses for Utah State University (USU), a position he held since 2018. Prior to that, he served as the Utah Commissioner of Technical Education where he was the CEO for the Utah System of Technical Colleges, providing state-level leadership and oversight for the eight technical colleges in Utah. He also served as Executive Vice Provost at USU, as well as the President of Uintah Basin Applied Technology College. Woolstenhulme received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah State University and his Doctorate of Education from the University of Wyoming.
Deputy Director, Washington Student Achievement Council
Don Bennett has been the deputy director of the Washington Student Achievement Council since June 2013. He took military leave from July 2015 to June 2016 to serve full-time as state judge advocate for the Washington Army National Guard. Earlier Bennett held several positions over a six-year period with the Achievement Council’s predecessor, the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, including deputy director, and as executive director from 2010 through 2012. Earlier in his career, Bennett served as executive secretary of the State Personnel Appeals Board from 1997 to 2006, leadership counsel for the Washington State Senate, director of Policy and Legal Services for the Washington State School Directors’ Association, and as staff counsel for the Washington State Senate Education Committee. Bennett has also had a distinguished career in the military: he was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004-05) as staff judge advocate for the 81st Brigade Combat Team. He was commissioned as a judge advocate officer in 1989 after 14 years of enlisted service. Since his promotion to colonel in 2008, Bennett has served as staff judge advocate for the Joint Force Headquarters of the Washington Army National Guard. Bennett earned a juris doctor degree from the University of Puget Sound School of Law in 1986.
Representative, Washington State Legislature
Representative Gerry Pollet has served in the Washington State House since December 2011. Gerry is an attorney and faculty member at the UW School of Public Health. Gerry is Vice-Chair of the House Higher Education Committee and serves on the Education and Finance Committees. Gerry was the author of the successful efforts in 2016 to pass the nation’s first comprehensive regulation of electronic cigarettes and a comprehensive program responding to the critical shortage of teachers in Washington, including a grant program to pay tuition for low income students seeking to be teachers in under served areas. Gerry has been honored as the “Legislator of the Year” for his work to improve affordable access to higher education and improved student success. He is the House sponsor of “The Washington Promise,” for free community college tuition.
President Emeritus, The Evergreen State College
Dr. Thomas L. (Les) Purce is President Emeritus of The Evergreen State College from which he retired in 2015 after 17 years of service in that position. The Evergreen State College is known for its innovative approach to interdisciplinary study in the arts and sciences, and for its commitment to equity, inclusiveness, and social justice. It is a higher education leader in environmentally sustainable practices. Previously, Dr. Purce served in senior administrative positions at Idaho State University and as a vice-president at Washington State University. Les is a third-generation Idahoan whose family arrived in Idaho in the early 1900s. He was the first Black elected official in the state of Idaho, serving as a Pocatello City council member and then as Mayor. After that, he served first as Director of the Idaho Department of Administration and later, Director of the Department of Health and Welfare. In the private sector, he served as a partner and chief operating officer of Power Engineers in Hailey, Idaho.
Senator, Wyoming State Legislature
Fred Baldwin, a physician assistant in Kemmerer, is serving his first term in the Wyoming State Senate. He serves on the Senate’s labor, health and social services committee as well as on the transportation, highways and military affairs committee. Baldwin is active in his community as assistant chief of the South Lincoln fire district, and as a member of the medical advisory committee of the Wyoming High School Activities Association. He also works with Kemmerer’s suicide prevention group. He is a fourth generation Wyomingite who graduated from the University of Utah School of Medicine in physician assistant studies and earlier was enrolled in the nursing program at Casper College and pursued studies at the University of Wyoming, the University of Wisconsin Washington County, and Western Oregon State University.
President, Western Wyoming Community College Rock Springs
Kimberly Kuster Dale came to Western Wyoming Community College in 2019 as Western’s 8th president. She attended a large university after high school and left after one semester to go to work. She later returned to college and never stopped, finding her love for learning and serving students. Dr. Dale received a bachelor of science degree in business education from Metropolitan State College of Denver, a master’s degree in management and organization from the University of Colorado Denver, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership and human resource studies from Colorado State University.
Kim worked within the Colorado Community College System for over 20 years, serving as a faculty department chair, dean of instruction and outreach. She also taught as an adjunct professor in management and organizational development at the University of Colorado Denver. Prior to coming to Western, Kim served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Western Nebraska Community College.
Kim and her husband, Randy, have five children and one grandson who reside in northern Colorado and Kentucky. Kim and Randy have fallen in love with Wyoming and take time to enjoy the great outdoors every chance they get.
Dean, College of Health Sciences, University of Wyoming
David Jones is dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Wyoming. His previous appointments at the university include associate dean in health sciences, associate vice president for academic affairs, and vice president for academic affairs. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in speech pathology from the University of Iowa. As professor in the Division of Communication Disorders, he published primarily in the area of speech disorders related to cleft palate, and received various awards for teaching excellence. His professional memberships include the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association. He has served as a section editor for the Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, a member of the board of directors for the Cleft Palate Foundation, and a member of the executive council for the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association. Jones has devoted much of his career to clinical service for children and families affected by cleft lip and palate and craniofacial anomalies. Previously, he was clinical associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Indiana University and research scientist in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Iowa.
Executive Assistant to the President and to the Commission
Laura Ewing has been with WICHE since 2007 and currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the President and to the 48 member Commission that governs WICHE. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Public Relations from Graceland University in Lamoni, IA. Community service is important to Laura. Most recently, she served and led the board of a local performing arts nonprofit for several years, and is an active volunteer with ministry programs.
Demarée K. Michelau is the president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Located in Boulder, CO, WICHE is a regional interstate compact that partners with states, territories, and postsecondary institutions to share knowledge, create resources, and develop innovative solutions that address some of our society’s most pressing needs. From promoting high-quality, affordable postsecondary education to helping states get the most from their technology investments and addressing behavioral health challenges, WICHE improves lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy. Prior to her role as WICHE’s president, Dr. Michelau was WICHE’s vice president of policy analysis and research, a role in which she managed WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit and oversaw externally-funded projects related to projections of high school graduates, closing postsecondary attainment gaps, and the development of a multistate longitudinal data exchange. The author of numerous reports and policy briefs, she has experience in a variety of higher education policy issues, including those related to equity and attainment, strategic planning, adult learners, articulation and transfer, accelerated learning options, college affordability, workforce linkages, and K-16 reform. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration (CONAHEC) and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Previously, she held positions with the National Conference of State Legislatures and with former Colorado Congressman David Skaggs. Michelau received her bachelor’s degree in public law from Northern Illinois University and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.