Two ACC Leaders Selected for prestigious Aspen Institute’s Rising Presidents Fellowship

Two Austin Community College District (ACC) leaders were selected by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program for the 2024-25 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship. Dr. Garrett Groves, ACC Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives, and Dr. Manny Gonzalez, ACC Board of Trustees Secretary, were two of 39 leaders selected to take part in a 10-month leadership program.

The fellows will work closely with highly accomplished community college presidents and thought leaders 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. One of those leaders is ACC Chancellor Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, who was selected in September 2023 for the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence. 

“Working with the Aspen Institute Colleague Excellence Program has been central to my leadership development in the past decade. The training and skills they provide are critical to providing the skills needed for the continued success of our students,” says Dr. Lowery-Hart. “I am so proud of both Dr. Groves and Dr. Gonzalez. I look forward to working with them throughout their fellowship and sharing the lessons I have learned to help shape them as the wonderful leaders I know they will be.”

Through lessons learned from years of research, the Aspen fellowship aims to identify and train the next leaders in higher education, guiding institutions toward greater levels of student success and equity. Many sitting leaders are expected to retire in the next decade, creating vacancies. The fellowship will train select leaders with the skills and knowledge to achieve better student outcomes. 

“With so many community college presidents taking or nearing retirement, Aspen has a heightened sense of urgency to develop new leaders who are committed to systemic change,” says Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “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. 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.” 

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.

Fellows were selected through a competitive process. 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 diverse, located in 20 states, from small rural to large urban campuses. 

ACC has a long history of leadership being selected for this prestigious program. ACC Provost Dr. Monqiue Umphrey, ACC Vice Chancellor of Institutional Research & Analytics Dr. Jenna Cullinane Hege, ACC Vice Chancellor of Instruction Dr. Gaye Lynn Scott, ACC Vice Chancellor of Institutional Effectiveness & Grant Development Dr. Mary Harris, and Associate Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management Dr. Dorado Kinney have all participated in the fellowship.

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.  

For bios and photos of all 39 leaders, visit  

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