Spotlight Sessions

(All Listed Session Times are ET)

Beyond COVID: Exploring the College Experience Post-Pandemic

Presenters will share how colleges are thinking about re-designing the student experience and working with their communities to address emerging workforce and support needs and opportunities.


  • Laurie Fladd, Achieving the Dream
  • Esmerelda Sweeney, Broward College
  • Levy Brown, Vance-Granville Community College
  • Calandra Stringer, Tallahassee Community College

Building Resiliency in Rural Communities for the Future of Work

Now more than ever, rural colleges must prepare students for careers that pay family sustaining wages in today’s digital economy. Join this spotlight to hear from leaders at two rural Achieving the Dream colleges share how their institutions’ innovative programs and community partnerships are improving students’ pathways to sustainable local careers. Patrick Henry Community College in southern Virginia has become the state’s hub in preparing students to contribute to “The Internet of Things.” Similarly, Motlow State Community College in Middle Tennessee has become a leader in virtual reality. Participants will also learn about the work seven new, rural Achieving the Dream Network colleges are embarking upon to “Build Resiliency in Rural Communities for the Future of Work” through supporting economic mobility in the digital economy for their students and the vitality of their communities.


  • Dr. J. Gregory Hodges, Vice President for Academic and Student Success Services
  • Dr. Michael L. Torrence, President, Motlow State Community College
  • Dr Karen A. Stout, President and CEO, Achieving the Dream, Inc.
  • Dr. Monica Parrish Trent, Vice President, Network Engagement, Achieving the Dream, Inc.
  • Meredith Archer Hatch, Director, Network Relations, Achieving the Dream, Inc.

Chat Moderator:

  • Cindy Lopez, Executive Director, Network Engagement, Achieving the Dream, Inc.

Critical Conversations: A Discussion among Diversity and Equity Officers

College Equity and Diversity Officers have been charged with supporting institutions advance student success agendas and strategic plans while keeping the needs of the diverse college community at the forefront. A leading expert in Diversity and Higher Education will share best practices and strategies to implement and sustain essential DEI work, and participants will dialog with peers about how to lead from a position of influence during social, cultural and political unrest.


  • James A. Felton III, Executive Director for Inclusive Excellence, The College of New Jersey, Co-Author of Inclusive Directions: The Role of the Chief Diversity Officer in Community College Leadership
  • Michelle Smith, Vice President for Workforce Development, Harper College, Co-Author of Inclusive Directions: The Role of the Chief Diversity Officer in Community College Leadership
  • Dr. Adena Williams Loston, President, St. Philip's College
  • Francesca Carpenter, Director of Equity Initiatives, Achieving the Dream

Increasing Equity in K-12 Partnerships: Inside Information from School District Leaders

Dual Enrollment and high school partnerships are more than a tool for increasing enrollment. When designed with a focus on students underrepresented in higher education, these programs also advance progress toward equity goals. This session will feature K-12 leaders’ insights and priorities for building college partnerships that increase participation for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation college students. Covering program design, outreach, student supports, and sustainable funding, we will address the crucial issues for partnerships that meet the needs of the college and your school district partners.


  • Nick Mathern, Vice President of K-12 Partnerships, Achieving the Dream
  • Gelsey Mehl, Senior Program Manager at the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program
  • Stephen Zrike, Superintendent, Salem Public Schools
  • Malika Savoy-Brooks, Chief Academic Support Officer, School District of Philadelphia

What Works? Professional Learning for Equity and Student Success

Presenters will share ATD’s theory of change for building capacity in teaching and learning, including the four cornerstones for building a culture of excellence and the Principles of Good Practice. Representatives from two ATD colleges will share their experiences designing equity-focused faculty professional learning for student success.


  • Jon Iuzzini, Director, Teaching and Learning Achieving the Dream
  • Bret Eynon, ATD Teaching and Learning Coach
  • Shantell Strickland-Davis, Executive Director, Parr Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence, Central Piedmont Community College
  • Donna Love Seagle, VP, Academic Affairs, Walters State Community College

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