President Charlene Newkirk - Chair of the Three Rivers Regional Network
Charlene Newkirk has served at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a Campus President since March 2009. In July 2019, assumed responsibility as the Southeast Region President overseeing the Boyce and South campuses, as well as the Braddock Hills Center. Her expertise and passion in the institutional areas of student access and success was renewed three years ago, when her responsibilities expanded to include joint leadership with the Northwest Region President to oversee the areas of Enrollment Management and Retention.
Her 45 years of combined administrative and executive experience represents an impressive track record of transformative leadership at large public research institutions, as well as small public and private colleges, (including the University of Pittsburgh, Florida State University, Arizona State University, the College of Southern Maryland, Oberlin College, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland). Most notably in 2001, she was selected by the Governor of Maryland as a founding member of the College of Southern Maryland (CSMD) Board of Trustees representing St. Mary’s County. She would serve as board member for three years. A year later, she was selected to serve as a Vice President and Dean at CSMD Prince Frederick. In that capacity, she oversaw the creation and building of the ($32 million) Prince Frederick campus. This included overseeing the hiring of faculty and staff and provision of service to the Calvert County Maryland community.
Nationally recognized as a thought leader within the community college sector in the areas of executive leadership development and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), she has been tapped and appointed on multiple commissions on the American Association of Community Colleges (Structured Pathways and Global Initiatives). Additionally, she has served as a grant reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Strengthening Institutions program for four years and has served as a member of ten Middle States reaccreditation teams. She was a Baldrige-trained examiner team member for the Maryland Performance Excellence Awards Program.
Highlighting her many accomplishments at CCAC was the spearheading of the planning process in the expansion of the Braddock Hills Center in response to the underserved surrounding community. She is also recognized for her visionary foresight in investing over $6 million dollars in enhancing classroom, laboratory and student spaces at the Boyce and South campuses. She conceptualized and developed the “One College Reads” dialogue series, which led to a partnership between CCAC and thirty other Pittsburgh area partner agencies and schools through a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Highlighting her commitment to leadership development, she facilitated the creation of the CCAC Leadership Development Institute, a nationally recognized emerging leader program. In response to the growing food insecurity needs of the college’s students, she launched a food pantry at the South Campus in cooperation with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. This successful initiative eventually was expanded to all campus locations. Given the success of the pantries, in 2017 she was invited to present at the Association of Community College Trustee conference.
Locally, Charlene who is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh is engaged in multiple civic engagement activities. This includes service on the Jewish Family and Community Services Board (JFCS), the Jefferson Collaborative and the Vision Council for the Southern Pittsburgh Region for the Jefferson Regional Foundation, a member of the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Human Services Corporation Board. She recently served as a member of the Jefferson Regional Hospital Board until 2022. In 2021, she was recognized with the prestigious Pittsburgh Business Times, Women of Influence Award, honoring professional women in western Pennsylvania for outstanding performance and influence for our region in 2022.
A native of Pittsburgh, her service to the region is a living testament to fulfillment of the mission of the Community College of Allegheny County. She graduated from Westinghouse High School and received her BA in English from Oberlin College, and then received a Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. After passing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania bar examination, she actively practiced law for several years. She has served as a prelaw advisor and as an adjunct faculty member at two, 4-year institutions; she taught prelaw credit and political science courses with a focus on women and the law and equity issues in developing and administering public policy in the United States.