Northeast Community College campus

With the Northeast Community College presidential candidate forums complete, many are anticipating the appointment of the college’s ninth president.

The board of governors hopes to select a new president this fall, with the successful candidate starting in January 2020, said chairman Steve Anderson.

The three finalists — Dr. Leah Barrett, Dr. Lenny Klaver and Dr. Charles Nwankwo — were selected by a committee of 12 board representatives and members of college administration, faculty, staff and a student.

Each candidate had the opportunity to visit campus for two presidential forums to provide a statement of their qualifications and interest in leading Northeast, as well as respond to audience questions.

Here are the final presidential candidates, listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Dr. Leah Barrett

Current position: Vice president for student affairs at Northern Wyoming Community College District

Vision: “We really have to understand what’s happening in the economy in Northeast Nebraska. And have those conversations with our elected officials, with industry professionals, with economic development professionals, to talk about how we can work together to ensure the vibrancy of this part of Nebraska. What’s really important is this is a great time to come in as a president in that the strategic planning process, Vision 2020, is just ending. And so there’s really an opportunity to engage the entire community, our faculty and staff and community members, in those conversations about what does 2025 look like.”

Dr. Lenny Klaver

Current position: President of North Central Missouri College

Vision: “They’re about ready to get into new strategic planning cycle. My approach is very inclusive and collaborative. That’s involve a lot of people, have a good framework for the strategic plan. Also again, to have a vision that involves your quality and your array of programming, that you’re not just going to be a community college that serves the educational needs of Northeast Nebraska, but you’re going to be an exemplary college that could be an example nationwide for what you can do with a quality program in a community college region.”

Dr. Charles Nwankwo

Current position: Vice president of technology and business partnerships at Chandler Gilbert Community College in Arizona

Vision: “We already talked about a master plan. I’m told you need to make another master plan. We have to look at that. We have to incorporate what we’re doing now that is good. We have to be visionary, we have to think about the future — when our students come in the future, what kind of space do they want to be in — and incorporate that. What kind of programs do we want to teach in the future and incorporate that. You do this by talking to people. You do this by talking to the community, faculty, the staff. Understanding what they expect of the community college. After all, we’re a community college. We’re community-bound.”

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Want to learn more?

To read each finalist’s bio, visit

The Northeast Community College Board of Governors met Tuesday in the College Welcome Center for its regular meeting.

Regular meeting duration: 41 minutes.

Board members present: Del Ames, Carol Sibbel, Steven Anderson, Gene Willers, Julie Robinson and Donovan Ellis.

Board members absent: Keith Harvey, Arlan Kuehn, Dirk Petersen, Jeff Scherer and Terry Nelson.

Others in attendance: Two media representatives, 10 college employees, two members of the public and one college student.

Executive sessions: None.


  • Adopted the agenda.
  • Approved minutes from the Sept. 12 regular meeting.
  • Approved claims.
  • Accepted the resignation of Keith Harvey. A new District II representative is anticipated to be announced in the next board meeting.
  • Accepted the second reading and revisions to BP-3610, Grant Development, Management and Compliance.


  • Mary Honke, co-interim president, reported on college happenings, including the Nexus capital campaign and court interpreter training.
  • Amanda Nipp, vice president of student services, reported on recent student events, including TRIO, an extreme bowling event at King’s Lanes, blood drives and athletic records.
  • Dr. Michele Gill, interim vice president of educational services, reported on truck driving simulators, a police officer seminar and the National Association of Teachers of Singing conference in Kearney.
  • Coleen Bressler, interim vice president of administrative services, provided the financial report.
  • Drew Smith, Student Leadership Association president, shared recent SLA activities, including a retreat, signature project planning and upcoming spooktacular event.
  • Greg Adams, executive director of the Nebraska Community College Association, provided the Nebraska Community College Association report.

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