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Karen Lee

Through a competitive process, Honolulu Community College Chancellor Karen C. Lee has been selected for the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidents Fellowship, a program focused on developing a sustainable and comprehensive reform agenda that advances excellence and equity in student outcomes.

The fellows will work closely with top community college leaders and senior staff from the Aspen Institute over one year. They will learn about and compare their practices to those of field-leading colleges; analyze their students’ graduation and post-graduation outcomes, and advance their priority reforms aimed at delivering excellent and equitable student outcomes.

“I am so honored to be chosen as a part of this prestigious inaugural class of fellows,” Lee said. “The Aspen Institute is a global organization, widely recognized for its cutting-edge research, knowledge and practice to advance the capacity of higher education institutions. I look forward to learning from my peers across the nation and from the program to advance Honolulu Community College’s vision.”

The fellows lead community colleges across 14 states that collectively educate more than 280,000 students in varied settings, from a rural college of 700 students to an urban one with more than 24,000. The incoming class of Presidents Fellows is 56% women and 44% people of color.

“Scaled improvements in student outcomes at our nation’s community colleges requires excellent leadership,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “I am continually inspired and motivated by the dedication and expertise that our fellows bring to the work of advancing excellence and equity on their campuses, and I look forward to supporting them as they improve outcomes for their students.”

JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic support for the Aspen Presidents Fellowship is part of the firm’s New Skills at Work initiative to prepare young people for the future of work and meet the growing demand for skilled workers, and a $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity and drive an inclusive economy.

Biographies and photos of the 2023–24 Presidents Fellows are available online.

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