• Presidential Search

  • After an extensive national search, Hudson County Community College is pleased to announce three final candidates:

    Jowel C. Laguerre, Ph.D.

    A native of Haiti, Dr. Laguerre began his tenure as Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District in Oakland, CA, on July 1, 2015. He served as Superintendent/President of California's Solano Community College.

    Dr. Laguerre holds a Ph.D., in Educational Leadership for college and university administration, a Master’s of Science in Education in School Administration and a Master’s of Arts in French Literature from the University of Kansas, and a Certificate in Mathematics and Physics Education from l’Université d’Etat d’Haiti: Ecole Normale Supérieure, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

    Chancellor Laguerre regularly meets with Trustees, students, faculty, staff and administrators, and has engaged the community, meeting with numerous community leaders, elected officials, members of faith-based organizations, labor and educational partners to form key alliances between the community and the Peralta Colleges.

    In addition to forming partnerships with local mayors and nationally-recognized Promise programs– Dr. Laguerre regularly holds workforce development meetings with business leaders, including local Chambers of Commerce, the Private Industry Council, the Port of Oakland, Bayer/Biotech Partners, and others. Dr. Laguerre has also been engaged in the Career Pathways Trust, Foster Youth Service, Hack the Hood, Civic Corps, and other organizations.

    At Solano, Dr. Laguerre was instrumental in creating the UMOJA program, and led the College in a bond campaign to raise $348 million for new facilities and a new Veterans’ Center. He partnered with Sonoma State University to offer some of the first bachelor’s degrees at community colleges in California.

    Previously, Dr. Laguerre was the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada and served as Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Services at Montgomery College (Maryland). He also held a number academic and student services positions at Lake Superior College (Minnesota).

    He is a member of the Civic Leader and Advisor to the United States Air Force Secretary and the Chief of Staff. He has been a Rotarian for over ten years and was an honorary commander at Travis Air Force Base. He was the 1988 U.S. Department of Education Christa McAuliffe Fellow for the state of Kansas and was selected and recognized as Educator of the Year by the Montgomery County African-American Chamber of Commerce.

    Christopher M. Reber, Ph.D.

    Dr. Christopher M. Reber has devoted his entire 37-year career to higher education. He is currently President of Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) near Pittsburgh, PA, where he is leading new initiatives in support of a student-centered learning environment; strategic enrollment management; regional partnerships; and a culture of planning, assessment and improvement.

    Dr. Reber has championed the development of nationally distinctive CCBC High School Academies; more than 600 articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities nationwide; and new program development that addresses high priority workforce and economic development needs throughout western Pennsylvania. Under his leadership CCBC has become known as the tristate workforce development leader in a rapidly emerging economic and industrial transformation.

    Dr. Reber led the development of CCBC’s 2016-21 strategic plan – Partnerships and Pathways for Progress. The plan articulates a vision and goals for reaching new levels of excellence as a high-performing college that provides a personal environment for student achievement; creates strategic partnerships of K-12 school districts, four-year universities, and industry to develop seamless K-16 educational and career pathways for students; and employs high-impact practices to promote student success.

    CCBC was named one of America’s Top 150 Community Colleges by The Aspen Institute and one of Pennsylvania Business Central’s Top 100 Organizations in Pennsylvania during Dr. Reber’s tenure. CCBC is an Achieving the Dream Leader College in recognition of the institution’s student success outcomes, and has gained regional and national recognition for the College’s distinctive programs in Aviation Sciences; Nursing and Allied Health; and Process Technology, among others. Under Dr. Reber’s leadership CCBC was selected as one of 44 colleges and universities in America and the only community college in Pennsylvania to provide federal Pell funding for high school students participating in dual enrollment programs.

    Prior to joining CCBC, Dr. Reber served for 12 years as Executive Dean of Venango College of Clarion University (PA). He led the college to achieve record-breaking enrollments and helped faculty develop new programs supported by a diverse network of partnerships. The College offered stackable credentials including certificates, associate degrees, applied baccalaureates and graduate degrees. Dr. Reber led the development and approval of Clarion University’s first doctoral degree in Nursing Practice.

    Dr. Reber’s career also includes 18 years at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, where he served on the senior management team as the Chief Development, University Relations and Alumni Relations Officer during a successful $50 million capital campaign; and Chief Student Affairs Officer during a period of significant college growth. Earlier in his career he led continuing and cooperative education programs at Lakeland Community College near Cleveland, Ohio.

    Dr. Reber strives to be a servant leader in his work and community engagement. He is passionate about the educational imperative to promote social justice and access to underserved communities. Throughout his career he has provided leadership and support for diversity, including the creation of a Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CCBC; participation on Clarion University’s Diversity Strategic Planning Committee; and creation and leadership of Penn State Erie’s Diversity and Educational Equity Committee. He is currently a member of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Commission on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.

    Dr. Reber holds a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa; a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University, where he was named “Graduate Student of the Year;” and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He also holds a post-graduate certificate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

    Dr. Reber lives in Ellwood City, PA with his partner, Kerry Stetler. He is the father of two children: Jonathan, age 21, and Katherine, age 19.

    Joanne Russell, Ph.D.

    Dr. Joanne Russell is Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Kingsborough Community College, an Achieving the Dream Leader College that is part of the City University of New York. Previously, she was Provost Fellow for Community College Access Programs and Workforce Development at the State University of New York System (SUNY) Administration, responsible for working with SUNY’s community colleges to scale initiatives that increase access, success, completion and workforce development. She has spent over 25 years working in higher education in both faculty and administrative roles, including Vice President for Academic Affairs at Westchester Community College in New York and Dean of Academic Affairs at Manchester Community College in Connecticut. Throughout her career, Dr. Russell has provided leadership for equity initiatives, strategic planning, resource development, regional and programmatic accreditation, general education reform, developmental education redesign, high school partnership work, workforce development, program development and expansion, and extensive hiring of faculty and staff. She has been the Principal Investigator and Project Director of numerous grant-funded initiatives to strengthen student access, success, and completion. Dr. Russell earned a BS in Chemistry and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Connecticut.



    Search Committee Roster:

    • Kevin Callahan, Committee Chair (HCCC Trustee)
    • Bakari Lee, Committee Vice Chair (HCCC Trustee)
    • Jeanette Peña, Committee (HCCC Trustee)
    • Denise Rosilli, HCCC Faculty Member and Chair of All College Council
    • Antonio Acevedo, HCCC Faculty Member
    • Nicholas Chiaravalloti, HCCC College Administrator
    • Veronica Zeichner, HCCC College Administrator
    • Yeurys Pujols, HCCC College Administrator, North Hudson Campus, also HCCC alumnus
    • Bianelly Tellez, President, HCCC Phi Theta Kappa Chapters
    • James Egan, Board of Directors, HCCC Foundation
    • Dorothea Graham King, Administrative Assistant and President HCCC support staff union (AFT)
    • Harry Melendez, Community member
    Support for the Committee:
    • Jennifer Oakley, Senior Executive Asministrative Assistant
    • Roger Jones, President, Jones & Associates Communications
    • Narcisa A. Polonio, Ed.D. and Association of Community College Trustees


    Challenges and Opportunities:

    The next HCCC President will be an experienced leader with a proven track record. The President will be an individual who will embrace this unique, growing, ever-evolving, and highly competitive urban-metropolitan community while addressing the following challenges and opportunities to improve the lives of students and residents of this vibrant and highly diverse area:

    1. Continue to build upon the commitment of the Trustees, administration, faculty and staff to implement innovative approaches in meeting the educational needs of this ethnically diverse, growing, urban commuter student body by providing high quality academic and workforce development programs, as well as continuing education opportunities.
    2. Expand and foster partnerships and build strong alliances with local business, industry, government, community organizations, school districts, and colleges and universities.
    3. Anticipate changes in Federal, state and county funding, and – in partnership with the College’s Foundation – identify new sources of funding and lead fundraising efforts to support the needs of students, invest in faculty and staff development, and equip state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories.
    4. Guide the College through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education ten-year review process, as well as the development of a collaborative and inclusive strategic planning process.
    5. Undertake new capital construction projects while overseeing the development of a new, master capital plan.

    Ideal Characteristics:

    The HCCC College President is responsible for improving the quality of life and economic well-being of the College’s students and the Hudson County community by providing access to a quality learning environment and fostering student success. The next President will possess a track record of success as demonstrated by the following:

    1. Will be an experienced and successful transformation leader and administrator who is committed to effectively advocate for students’ access, success, and completion.
    2. Will be responsive to evolving workforce needs, as well as the need to invest in STEM programs, support liberal arts offerings, online education, and to develop other new and innovative programs.
    3. Will demonstrate the ability to develop and expand partnerships with K-12 educational institutions, colleges and universities, community organizations, and government, business and industry.
    4. Will be a visible, accessible and active member of the community who will reside within the County.
    5. Will be economically prudent, and provide sound fiscal and resource management while investing and valuing the contribution of all employees.
    6. Will have a demonstrated commitment to student success, equity and completion, and advocate for policies and practices that value diversity and inclusion.
    7. Will be an exceptional communicator and listener, and demonstrate integrity and honesty.
    8. Will be an experienced fundraiser who is adept at obtaining resources through private fundraising, entrepreneurial activities, and grants.
    9. Will be an educator with significant accreditation experience.
    10. Will be experienced in working and negotiating with organized labor.

    Preferred Qualifications:

    The next HCCC President will possess:

    1. Understanding of, and passion for, the comprehensive community college mission;
    2. Knowledge of and experience with transfer, career, technical, and developmental education, as well as workforce development;
    3. Experience showing support of innovation and high standards of excellence;
    4. Knowledge of and experience in implementing current technology in educational institutions;
    5. Appreciation of the expertise and contributions of faculty and staff that is supportive of their professional development;
    6. Success with collegial collaborations and participatory leadership;
    7. Reputation for ethical behavior; and
    8. Willingness to reside in Hudson County.

    Minimum Qualifications:

    The qualifications that must be met to be considered for this position and to continue in this position include:

    1. A doctoral degree from a regionally accredited university.
    2. Prior administrative experience with management responsibilities comparable to those described for this position.
    3. Significant academic leadership experience in higher education (community college experience preferred).

    For confidential inquiries, nominations, or additional information please contact Narcisa A. Polonio, Ed.D. at (202) 276-1983 or npolonio@gmail.com.

    Learn More


    #1 January 16th - Noon to 3:00 p.m.

    Advisory Search Committee Meeting: Conduct committee orientation and training; discussion of confidentiality, timeline, conduct interviews with key constituents and stakeholders, and review of profile. 

    Board of Trustees Meeting: Review initial draft of profile and formally announce the composition of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee

    January 17th 9:30 a.m. Conduct public forums


    Mid-January    Recruitment Commences

    February 28     Target Date for Applications

    #2 Second week in March - Advisory Presidential Search Committee Meeting: Committee Members to select candidates for initial interviews.

    #3 Third week in March Advisory Presidential Search Committee Meeting: To conduct interviews and select final candidates.

    April TBD          Board interviews and Public Forums

    April TBD          Finalist Selected


    More Information to follow

    Learn More


    More Information to follow

    Learn More


  • Contact Information

    For additional information, nominations, or confidential inquiries, please contact:

    Narcisa A. Polonio, Ed.D., 

    Presidential Search Consultant

    (202) 276-1983