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Alliance Executive Committee
Representing each WICHE state
The Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders is governed by an executive committee comprised of 16 individuals, with one selected from the members’ official representatives in each WICHE state and territory. This group has oversight responsibility for all of the activities of the Alliance. It meets face-to-face twice per year and otherwise by conference call as needed.
Alliance Executive Committee, Maricopa Community Colleges
Bettina Celis serves as the acting Vice Chancellor and Provost of Academic and Student Affairs for the Maricopa County Community College District. In her role, she provides leadership for the multi-college system in the areas of Academic and Student Affairs, Faculty Affairs, Institutional Effectiveness, and the transformational work of Guided Pathways. In addition to collaborating across the MCCCD system on teaching and learning, academic and student focused initiatives and systems change, she provides leadership for strategic partnerships and is engaged in equity, completion, and transfer work nationally and with Arizona’s statewide transfer system.
A native of Arizona, she has over 24 years of experience in higher education, serving in a number of leadership roles across Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Information Technology; and is a certified change and project management professional. As a first generation college student, she understands the positive impact of higher education on families and communities, and is an advocate for increasing college completion, student success, and systemic change centered on equity.
Executive Vice Chancellor for Equitable Student Learning, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
Dr. Aisha Lowe is a passionate educator who has dedicated her life to improving education for all students and communities. As Executive Vice Chancellor of Equitable Student Learning for the CA Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, Aisha provides leadership for Educational Services division activities including transfer and articulation, curriculum chaptering and approval, equity programs and grants, innovations in teaching and learning, special project management, and system wide technical assistance delivery. Prior to joining the Chancellor’s Office in 2020, Dr. Lowe served as Associate Professor of Education at William Jessup University, where she oversaw the thesis research of future teachers in training. She also served as the Dean of the Office of Academic Research, leading the university’s Strategic Academic Research Plan and academic grant making. Additionally, Aisha served the students of the Los Rios Community College District, Sierra College and CSU Sacramento as an adjunct professor for over eight years. Dr. Lowe received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and her Master’s in Sociology from Stanford University where she also received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.
Alliance Executive Committee, Colorado Community College System
Landon K. Pirius is the vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). At CCCS, Pirius provides strategic leadership for all aspects of academic affairs, student affairs, online education, workforce development, and institutional research. Prior to his current position, he was the vice president for academic and student affairs at North Hennepin Community College. Pirius also served in a variety of leadership roles at Inver Hills Community College, Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Walden University, and as an adjunct faculty member. He completed his B.A. in Russian studies and environmental studies from Gustavus Adolphus College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.
Alliance Executive Committee, University of Hawai‘i System
Della Teraoka has been with the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges (UHCC) system since 2020 and began serving as the acting vice president in May 2023. Teraoka provides leadership and support for seven community colleges. Before moving to the system office, Teraoka worked at Leeward Community College where she held positions ranging from professor to vice chancellor for academic affairs. Prior to joining UH, Teraoka worked in private industry for seven years as an accountant and manager. Teraoka earned her MBA from the University of Washington and a BBA in accounting and management information systems from Texas Tech University.
Alliance Executive Committee, College of Southern Idaho
Todd Schwarz currently serves as provost at the College of Southern Idaho since January 2014. He has had a long career in a variety of roles at CSI that exceeds 30 years with over 20 in administration including department chair and dean of career technical education. In 2012 he was appointed to the role of state administrator of the Idaho Division of Career Technical Education where he was instrumental in the creation of the Idaho micro credentialing system before returning to CSI. In 2015 he was recognized with the Institutional Leadership Award by the International Economic Development Council. Schwarz holds an associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degree from Idaho schools and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Idaho.
Angela DeWolf King
Alliance Executive Committee, Montana University System
Angela DeWolf King serves as the director of transfer and special projects for the Montana University System. In this role, DeWolf King leads strategic initiatives in a variety of areas including efforts to develop streamlined, statewide transfer processes, development of Prison Education Programming, and management of academic planning and policy. Prior to joining the Montana University System, DeWolf King worked for the University of Wyoming where she held different roles in enrollment management; specifically working to build collaborative relationships with Wyoming’s post-secondary and secondary partners, creating policies to transform transfer student success and fostering positive relations with Wyoming’s Tribal Nations and American Indian students.
Alliance Executive Committee, Truckee Meadows Community College
Jeffrey Alexander has served as vice president of academic affairs at Truckee Meadows Community College since June 2021, and he represents Nevada’s 2-year public institutions as vice chair of the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (Alliance). Previously, he served for 6 years as dean of arts and sciences at Pueblo Community College, prior to which he taught history at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Alexander is an historian of modern Japan and has published three books on Japanese consumer product manufacturing, sales, and consumption. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in history from The University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Forum Executive Committee, New Mexico Military Institute
Orlando Griego is the chief academic officer/dean of academics at the New Mexico Military Institute. Previously, he served as the dean at the University of St. Francis, associate dean at Azusa Pacific University, senior faculty at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, VA, and professor at Colorado State University. He has co-authored four books, 70 publications, scholarly presentations, and conference proceedings. He is a former Air Force Officer who served in Desert Storm. Griego earned his Ph.D. in human resource development at Colorado State University in 1997, his M.S. in human resource management at Golden Gate University in 1987, and his B.A. in social service at San Jose State University in 1982.
Alliance Executive Committee, Bismarck State College
Kaylyn Bondy, Ph.D., has served as the vice president for student affairs at Bismarck State College since 2020. Previously, she served Williston State College as vice president for student affairs from 2015-2020 and as registrar/director for institutional research & effectiveness from 2011-2015. She has taught as adjunct faculty and for other organizations. Bondy earned a B.A. in French from the University of North Dakota (UND), a master’s in international business from l’Institut d’Administration des Entreprises à Caen, an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas, and a Ph.D. in higher education from UND. She was also selected as an Aspen Presidential Fellow in 2020-2021.
Alliance Executive Committee, Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission
Donna Lewelling is the interim director of the office of community colleges and workforce development at the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. She has been involved in state-level higher education policy since 2006. In her role at the state, she as the privilege of leading a team that works every day to create pathways to success for Oregon’s students. Lewelling is passionate about community colleges and the students they serve. In 2018, she was awarded the Howard Cherry Outstanding Community College Advocate Award by the Oregon Community College Association for her outstanding contributions and advocacy for Oregon’s Community Colleges. Lewelling holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in human resources and a master’s degree in management and leadership.
Alliance Executive Committee, Lake Area Technical College
Barbara Kleinjan, M.A., honors lecturer, began leading Lake Area Technical College as dean of academics in July, 2022. Previously, she served as professor of communication studies at South Dakota State University, designing the honors speech minor which earned the national Basic Speech Course #1 ranking. Further, Kleinjan authored 16 contemporary issues Readers’ Theater performances, winning multiple national titles. Kleinjan received her B.A. in German, English and education from South Dakota State University and an M.A. in educational administration and leadership, also at SDSU. In July 2022, the South Dakota High School Activities Association presented Kleinjan with the prestigious Distinguished Service Award. The award celebrates her lifetime dedication to Fine Arts programs in South Dakota.
Director of Transfer Education, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
Valerie Sundby, Ed.D. serves as the director of transfer education at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. She provides leadership for Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges in the areas of transfer and applied baccalaureate degrees and works collaboratively with higher education partners around the state. She has worked in higher education for the past 20 years, including more than ten years as an academic dean. Sundby holds a Doctorate of Education in higher education leadership, a Master’s of Education in educational policy and leadership, and a Bachelor’s of Science in cell and molecular biology, all from the University of Washington.
Alliance Executive Committee, Laramie County Community College
Kari Brown-Herbst is the senior vice president of academic affairs at Laramie County Community College (LCCC) in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As the college’s chief academic officer, Brown-Herbst provides executive oversight and strategic guidance in the planning, development, and implementation of all aspects of academic programming as well as instructional support services. Brown-Herbst also serves as a representative to the LCCC Foundation Board, is the Wyoming Passport State Facilitator, and is also a member of the Peer Review Corps of the Higher Learning Commission. She received an Ed.D. in instructional technology from the University of Wyoming, her master’s in education technology from Marian University (Wisconsin) and her bachelor’s in sociology with an education endorsement from Kalamazoo College (Michigan).