Community college leaders, presidents, and trustees from across the nation convened at the 2023 Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Leadership Congress held in Las Vegas from October 9 to October 12. This year’s event, titled “Building a Legacy: Uplifting Students and Transforming Communities,” drew more than 1500 attendees, including leaders from philanthropic organizations, government agencies, and national non-profits.
The Leadership Congress, the largest professional development platform within the community college sector for addressing real-world challenges in higher education, served as a dynamic hub for community college leaders to exchange ideas and expertise, fostering collaboration and innovation within the evolving educational landscape. With over 150 sessions focused on enrollment strategies, technology-supported innovation, DEI, uplifting students, and transforming communities, the Leadership Congress offered a comprehensive agenda featuring renowned keynote speakers, engaging peer panel discussions, and expert presentations.
Jennifer Keiper, Senior Director of CollegeBuys, participated in a noteworthy panel discussion, titled “Funding Strategies to Provide Sustainable Mental Health and Basic Needs Support in a Post-HEERF World”. This session addressed contracting and sustainable funding for student mental health services in a post-pandemic world. The urgency of this discussion was underscored by a recent survey revealing that 75% of community college students voiced concerns about a mental health crisis on campus, with 68% grappling with stress, anxiety, and depression. Recognizing the imperative of addressing student mental well-being given these statistics, obtaining viable and sustainable funding through federal, state, and system-level sources to establish comprehensive and equitable support networks has become a top priority for community colleges.
Panelists for this discussion included:
- Jennifer Keiper, Senior Director of CollegeBuys, Foundation for California Community Colleges
- JW Kelly, Associate Vice President of Student Services, North Carolina Community College System
- Ryan Balber, Director, Virginia Higher Education Procurement Consortium
Moderated by TimelyCare’s Chief Strategy Officer, Becky Laman, these leaders within their fields shared their insights and strategies. Drawing on the collective experience between three different educational systems, attendees learned how to garner support from stakeholders for mental health solutions, how to effectively use and interpret data for funding purposes, and left the session with renewed commitment towards supporting student wellbeing.
The 2023 ACCT Leadership Congress reinvigorated the community college sector by harnessing the wealth of knowledge contributed by both attendees and speakers. Such events facilitate innovation and collaboration, furthering our shared mission of advancing governance and promoting student success.