Presidential Search

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Presidential Search Finalists

The Presidential Search Committee is pleased to announce four finalists for the position of President. Each finalist will participate in a full-day interview, including in-person and Zoom forums. Anonymous feedback will be collected and shared with the Board of Trustees.

Finalists and Interview Dates 
March 17 – Dr. Eric Heiser, Provost, Central Ohio Technical College
March 21 – Dr. Yoshiko Harden, Interim President/CEO, Seattle Central College
March 22 – Dr. Suzanne Ames, Vice President of Instruction, Lake Washington Institute of Technology
March 24 – Dr. Rolita Ezeonu, Vice President of Instruction, Green River College

Read their complete biographies below.

Dr. Suzanne Ames has served as an instructional administrator at Lake Washington Institute of Technology since 2015, including Vice President of Instruction, Associate Vice President of Instruction and Dean of Instruction. Her career in the state’s community and technical college system includes Director of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness at Skagit Valley College, Vice President of Advancement and Executive Director of the Foundation at Pierce College, Director of Communications at the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and Director of Marketing and Communications at Cascadia College. She has taught Business Management courses and serves as an accreditation evaluator for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Significant accomplishments in her career include:

  • Navigated LWTech through the early stages of the pandemic as Campus Zero, and served as the college’s Covid Supervisor to safely manage campus operations for two years;
  • Led a team of faculty and staff in the creation of a required Diversity & Social Justice class for all students;
  • Led a team of faculty and staff to add Cultural Humility as a new college-wide learning outcome;
  • Supported faculty in creating 4 Associates degrees and 9 applied bachelor’s degrees;
  • Worked with staff and faculty to design and implement college-wide planning processes at two colleges;
  • Secured private and federal grants of $21.7 million;
  • Led the Foundation Board in the development and execution of three strategic fundraising plans resulting in a capital campaign that exceeded fundraising goals by 25 percent and increased annual giving by 117 percent over four years;
  • Collaborated with faculty and staff to implement Guided Pathways with a holistic lens that builds on college’s strengths, including metamajors, mandatory advising, and embedding gen-eds in technical programs;
  • Led a statewide committee of college presidents, trustees, State Board members, State Board staff and public information officers in the creation of a statewide strategic communications plan, resulting in new state funding and advocacy from lawmakers;
  • Supported faculty and staff in planning two future buildings and successfully secured approval from the SBCTC through the capital projects allocation process;
  • Supported three colleges through several successful accreditation visits;
  • Served as a co-Principal Investigator on two National Science Foundation grants to increase opportunities for I.T. students.

Dr. Ames has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University, an MBA in Marketing from City University, and B.A.s in Communications and Political Science from the University of Washington. She earned Certificates of Completion from Washington Executive Leadership Academy (WELA) in 2016 and the League of Innovation Executive Leadership Institute in 2017. She lives in Stanwood with her husband and elderly chocolate lab.

Dr. Rolita Flores Ezeonu has over twenty years of experience in the Washington community and technical college system. Currently, Dr. Ezeonu is the Vice President of Instruction at Green River College. She also served as the Interim Vice President of Instruction and Dean of Instruction for Transfer and Pre-College Education at Highline College from 2008 to 2018. Prior to her administrative leadership roles, Dr. Ezeonu served as both an adjunct and tenured faculty member in Communication Studies from 1998 to 2008.

At Green River College, Dr. Ezeonu oversees and directs all instructional divisions and departments, including transfer, transitional studies, career and technical education and trades along with the Kent, Auburn, and Enumclaw branch campuses. In collaboration with all parts of the college, Dr. Ezeonu works closely with the Guided Pathways Advisory Team in providing focus and guidance to strengthen student retention, transitions, and completion. She is also helping to facilitate and lead in Strategic Enrollment Management efforts.

Dr. Ezeonu’s experience with equity runs deep. When Highline College became an Achieving the Dream college, she engaged faculty in rethinking the internal and external communities’ mindset around basic skills and English acquisition students while also preparing the classrooms for culturally responsive teaching and learning. As Dean, she was instrumental in acquiring and implementing the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) grant. At Green River College, she created and leads a team of Instructional leadership whose responsibility is to advance the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, as well as provide professional development opportunities for faculty, division chairs, and deans on DEI and anti- racism. She is also the co-chair for the Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion hiring committee at Green River College.

Her community work includes collaborating with Centro Rendu in providing classes on-site, serving as a board member of Para Los Niños and the Greenbridge Foundation, and as a member of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) dream team, to investigate the opportunity gaps in K-12 education. She has partnered with local school districts, community-based organizations, business, religious organizations, and industry in South King County that serve incumbent workers, low-income, out-of-school youth, immigrant and refugee populations, and students of color. At Green River College, Dr. Ezeonu also serves on the administration team for faculty union negotiations. She leads accreditation teams and is a peer reviewer for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Dr. Ezeonu earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in the community college from Seattle University, a Master of Arts degree in Communication from Washington State University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication/Public Relations from Washington State University. She also holds a certificate in “Closing the
Achievement Gap” from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She co-authored, “Providing Equitable Education as a Daily Call to Action.”

Dr. Ezeonu’s work in South King County is personal because she sees herself in these communities. She is married with two adult children and an English Labrador.

Dr. Yoshiko Harden (she, her) currently serves as the interim president of Seattle Central College, one of three colleges that comprise Seattle Colleges district. In this role she provides leadership and oversight for all aspects of the college and serves as the Executive sponsor for Guided Pathways’ student success and completion initiatives across the district.

Prior to this role, Dr. Harden served as the Vice President for Student Services at Seattle Central. In this position she led the Student Services division and units such as, Student Development, Student Success, Enrollment Services, Guided Pathways and Faculty Counseling. Under her leadership, the Student Services’ division increased student support programs serving vulnerable student communities with the establishment of the Re-entry/Prison Education program, Veteran student services center, and redesigned the counseling services model. She also served as a member of the leadership team to design and scale the Seattle Promise Scholars program, a partnership with the City of Seattle to provide two years of free tuition to Seattle Public Schools high school graduates.

Formerly, she served as the Vice President for Diversity/Chief Diversity Officer at Bellevue College. There she led college-wide initiatives to address (in)equity in recruitment, hiring, EDI professional development for faculty and staff, Title IX/Violence Against Women Act office, and the college’s bias response team. In that role, she co-designed and implemented mandatory Educational Equity professional development for all tenure-track faculty, modified the college’s search advocate model to include mandatory training for all members of screening/hiring committees, and implemented required diversity statements for all applicants for full-time positions at the college. Prior to her position at Bellevue College, Dr. Harden served as the Director of Multicultural Services and Student Development at Highline College.

She is the 2015 recipient of The Seattle Medium Black Press, Trailblazer and Role Model award,
and the 2016 recipient of the Washington State Multicultural Student Services’ Council, Dr. Rhonda Quash Coates award for Excellence in Multicultural Services. Dr. Harden earned certificates of completion from the American Association of Community Colleges Executive Leadership Institute in 2018, and Leadership Eastside’s Executive Insight Leadership program in 2015. She is a 2021 Aspen Institute Rising President’s fellow. Dr. Harden currently serves on the boards for the Alliance for Education, Washington Compass Compact, and Seattle
University’s Student Development Administration Advisory board.

Dr. Harden was born in Seattle and grew up in Hawaii where she lived until returning to Seattle to attend Garfield High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, San Diego in Communications and Women’s Studies, a M.Ed from Seattle University in Student Development Administration, and a doctorate in Education from Northeastern University in Higher Education Policy. Her research interests center on Black Male student success in Community and Technical Colleges, Racial Microaggressions, and Critical Race Theory.

Dr. Harden resides in Kent with her husband, children, and puppy, Serena Thunder.

Dr. Eric Heiser is the inaugural Provost of Central Ohio Technical College (COTC). He serves as the Chief Academic, Student Support, and Workforce officer for COTC. He has worked in higher education nearly two decades starting as a faculty member and progressing to senior leadership. He holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Colorado State University.

As a full-time assistant professor at Central Wyoming College (CWC) for six years, Dr. Heiser taught in the areas of business, management, and criminal justice. He also spent time as a director and workforce training coordinator during his time at CWC. He spent six years at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) as an Associate Dean and Dean and built one of the nation’s largest Competency-Based Education (CBE) Programs, from which the college was recognized nationally by multiple outlets. The school transitioned 20 formerly non-credit, clock-hour programs into CBE, each with an emphasis on serving underserved and minority students. He led award-winning efforts and established procedures for SLCC’s non-credit to credit conversion, which allows students to transfer non-credit studies towards associate degrees. He has delivered over three dozen conference presentations and key notes and published several articles on the topic of CBE and academic innovation over the past seven years.

Dr. Heiser is the principal/owner of Heiser Education Consulting, LLC, an education consulting firm specializing in change management in higher education. He has advised numerous colleges in the areas of change management, competency-based education (CBE), and leading change through innovation. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Lumina Foundation-funded Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN). He is also a founding member of the National Advisory Board for Postsecondary Competency-Based Education and Learning Research. In addition to his work in CBE, Dr. Heiser serves as President of the Board for the National Council of Instructional Administrators (NCIA), an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). In 2020, he was selected for a three-year term on AACC’s Commission on Workforce and Economic Development. He was also appointed as a content expert to the Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse to advise the department on best practices in career and technical education.

Dr. Heiser has experience working with two of the nation’s regional accreditors, Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). He has held leading roles at multiple institutions for reaffirmation of accreditation. Most recently, he was an accreditation reviewer and advisor for NWCCU with specific expertise in the area of CBE.


Daily Interview Schedule

Public forums will be held for each candidate in Blencoe and via Zoom (open to all, but questions will be focused on constituencies below):

Calendar invites and more information will be forthcoming soon. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the President Search Committee.

Subject Location Time
Interview with Cabinet RTC 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Tour of Campus RTC 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
Open Forum: Staff/ Renton Community Blencoe Auditorium & Zoom 10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Lunch with President Dr. Kevin McCarthy RTC Noon – 12:45 p.m.
Interview: DEIC Council RTC 12:45 – 1:30 p.m.
Interview: Search Committee RTC 1:40 – 2:30 p.m.
Open Forum: Faculty/Students/Renton Community Blencoe Auditorium & Zoom 2:40 – 3:30 p.m.
Continuation of Open Forum (if necessary) Blencoe Auditorium & Zoom 3:30 – 4 p.m.
Interview: Board of Trustees C-111 4:30 – Conclusion

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