Community College Virtual Forum:  Accelerating Change in Uncertain Times

A FREE Convening Hosted by the Ed.D. in Community College Leadership program at New Jersey City University

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. EST


1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. EST Keynote Presentation:  Accelerating Change in Uncertain Times, Dr. Vanessa Akhtar, director at Kotter

2020 delivered some of the most extreme conditions of change that we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. And while 2020 may feel like an anomaly, it’s clear we are now living in a world with more complexity, more uncertainty, and more volatility – which is requiring us all to respond to change faster than ever before. As the field of education navigates this new normal, the stakes have never been higher. During this keynote session, we will explore how Community College leaders can accelerate change in times of uncertainty. You will walk away from this session with:

  • A model for understanding and navigating uncertainty
  • Real-life examples of how this model has been used to accelerate change – and student success outcomes – in higher education ·
  • An understanding of your role in leading through this context, regardless of where you sit within your institution
Vanessa Akhtar

Dr. Vanessa Akhtar is a Director at Kotter – a consulting firm focused on helping organizations, across industries and sectors, accelerate change. She works on the firm’s most complex engagements and helps drive Kotter’s ongoing research & development efforts. She has worked with organizations around the globe, spanning a variety of industries – including education, healthcare, oil and energy, pharmaceuticals, non-profits, advertising, and philanthropic foundations. Dr. Akhtar has a background in Counseling Psychology, specializing in Sport & Performance Psychology. Before transitioning into the consulting world, she taught undergraduate and graduate students at Boston University and worked with teams, coaches, and athletes to help individuals reach the top of their game. She has a passion for the field of education. Through her work at Kotter, she has partnered with the Gates Foundation and Achieving the Dream to support Community Colleges in their efforts to better leverage technology to drive equity and student success. She has written on the topics of leadership and change for outlets such as Education News, Forbes, Huffington Post, Chief Executive, and Training Magazine, and is the co-author of the upcoming book Change: How Organizations Create Hard-to-Imagine Results Despite Uncertain and Volatile Times (Wiley) with Dr. John Kotter and Gaurav Gupta. Pre-Order this Book


2:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. EST Networking Breakout Sessions

Join a discussion with others from community colleges across the nation, facilitated by leaders in the field, on reframing institutional practices related to different focus areas. Come ready to share challenges, examples, and engage in solution-focused conversations. Choose from one of the following:

Breakout Conversation 1:  Accelerating Change in Uncertain Times – A Focus on Enrollment

Breakout Conversation 2:  Accelerating Change in Uncertain Times – A Focus on Student Services

Breakout Conversation 3:  Accelerating Change in Uncertain Times – A Focus on Teaching and Learning

Breakout Conversation 4:  Accelerating Change in Uncertain Times – A Focus on Leadership and Organizational Change

3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. EST Closing Session: Strategies for Action: Leader Reflections on Promising Practices 

At this closing session, facilitators from each breakout conversation will share one or two promising practices. Walk away with suggested strategies for accelerating change and inspired to take action at your institution.


Yeurys Pujols












Yeurys Pujols, Executive Director, North Hudson Campus at Hudson County Community College


Bette Simmons









Bette Simmons, Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Management, County College of Morris, NJ


Student Services

Eric Klein








Eric Klein, Coordinator of Collegiate Recovery, Northampton Community College



Dekia Smith












Dekia Smith, Associate Dean, Student Success and Retention, Bucks County Community College

Teaching and Learning


Hector Graciano











Hector Graciano, Associate Dean, Adjunct Services, Professional Development & Online Education, Westchester Community College

Ellen Wasserman









Ellen Wasserman, Adjunct Professor, Westchester Community College

Leadership and Organizational Culture

David Edwards
















David Edwards, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, Camden County College


Lilisa Williams









Lilisa Williams, Director of Faculty and Staff Development, Hudson County Community College



Thank you to our sponsor!

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