Dr. Yolanda Farmer Selected for Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship 2024-25

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program (Aspen) announced that Dr. Yolanda Farmer, Joliet Junior College (JJC) executive vice president, (EVP) has been selected for the 2024-25 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship.  

The Aspen fellowship prepares the next generation of community college presidents who can lead institutions to higher and more equitable levels of student success.    

"Being selected as an Aspen Rising Presidents Fellow is both an honor and a privilege,” said Dr. Farmer. “I am thrilled to embark on this journey, which deepens my commitment to enriching student experiences and advancing the field of higher education, and more specifically community colleges."

Dr. Farmer is JJC’s first appointed executive vice president. The EVP serves as the strategic institutional partner for the College's president and provides leadership for the academic affairs, finance & administrative services, information technology and student development divisions.

Before becoming JJC’s first EVP, Dr. Farmer served as the vice president for student development for nine years, championing many initiatives to advance accessible and diverse student services and resources. Dr. Farmer has held many respected positions in the State of Illinois, such as the dean of student services at Moraine Valley Community College, director of minority student affairs at JJC and assistant dean of students at DePaul University.

“Dr. Farmer has been an outstanding partner, advocate and supporter of student success,” said Dr. Clyne Namuo, JJC president. “I am inspired by her dedication and commitment to advancing access and equity for students in community colleges. I am confident she will excel during this journey and will undoubtedly continue to lead JJC and future institutions to higher levels of success.”

The fellows, selected through a competitive process, will work closely with highly accomplished community college presidents and thought leaders over 10 months to learn from field-leading research, examine demographic and labor market conditions in their communities, assess student outcomes at their colleges and advance a clear vision for excellent and equitable outcomes for students while in college and after they graduate.  

Aspen Presidential Fellows represent the next generation of college leadership. This incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is 58 percent women and 55 percent are people of color. The institutions they represent are also diverse, located in 20 states, from small rural colleges to large urban campuses.

“Community colleges have a unique opportunity to advance the talent communities need and enable the economic mobility that draws so many students to higher education.” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “I am confident that these fellows can realize that promise — and in turn advance the entire field — by taking the lessons from the highest performing colleges and preparing to bring those lessons to their first presidencies.”  

Dr. Farmer holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Eastern Illinois University, a Master of Education degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a doctorate in educational leadership from DePaul University.  

Dr. Farmer is also a graduate of the League for Innovation in the Community College Executive Leadership Institute and actively contributes to national and state-level educational leadership. Dr. Farmer served as the past president of the Illinois Community College Chief Student Services Officers. She is a Romeoville Area Chamber of Commerce and Romeoville Rotary member. She sits on the African American Business Association of Will County board and is a member of the Zonta Club of Joliet Area. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for 32 years, actively involved with the Glen Ellyn Area Alumnae Chapter.  

Rising Presidents Fellows aspire to enter a college presidency within five years of completing the fellowship. As fellows, they join a network of over 350 forward-thinking peers — 175 of whom are sitting college presidents — who are applying concrete, grounded and innovative strategies to meet student success challenges in their colleges.

The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship is made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Burton Family Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the College Futures Foundation, the Joyce Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. 

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