40 Aspiring Community College Presidents Will Participate in 2020-21 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship to Advance Student Success


Coos Bay, OR – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Dr. Ali Mageehon, Vice President of Instruction at Southwestern Oregon Community College, is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2020-21 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship. This leadership program will bring highly selected leaders together and prepare them to serve as the next generation of community college presidents who will transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success. 

The Rising Presidents Fellows will embark on a 10-month fellowship beginning in July. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the fellows will be mentored by esteemed current and former community college presidents who have achieved exceptional outcomes for students throughout their careers, and will learn strategies to improve student outcomes in and after college, lead internal change, and create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, employers, and other partners.

“Evidence shows that substantial improvements in student success are achieved only when presidents have the commitment and skill needed to lead change within their institutions and through partnerships in the community,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “These fellows have been chosen because they embody that commitment and, we believe, will build their skills even further to become transformational presidents.”

“Aspen chose only one Oregonian for this fellowship, and Southwestern is thrilled they chose a member of our college,” said Dr. Patty Scott, Southwestern president. “Throughout her career, Ali has dedicated her work to equity, and ensuring all groups of students can access training and education. She’s most passionate about carrying out this work in rural communities, where colleges like Southwestern have the greatest impact in people’s lives,” remarked Dr. Scott.

Dr. Ali Mageehon started as Vice President of Instruction at Southwestern Oregon Community College in May of 2017. Dr. Mageehon has been in Oregon since 2009 and has worked at both Portland Community College and Umpqua Community College. Her career started in GED instruction when she taught at a correctional facility in Colorado. She found her passion for education in rural communities while living and teaching in the Marshall Islands. 

Dr. Mageehon completed a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Denver, a master’s degree in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a doctorate degree in Higher Education with an emphasis in Adult Education from the University of Denver. She has published in multiple peer-reviewed journals, as well as has a published monograph on the Value, Belief and Experience in Women’s Jail Based Education.

The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship responds to the growing need for a new generation of leaders well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Nationally, nearly 80 percent of college presidents plan to retire in the next decade. While the traditional pathway to the presidency has excluded women and people of color, the incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows comprises 70 percent women and 61 percent people of color and represents institutions of varying sizes and locations.

Together, the 2020-21 fellows are leaders at colleges that collectively serve more than 500,000 students. As well, 42 Rising Presidents Fellowship alumni have become presidents of community colleges that collectively serve an additional 500,000 students nationwide.

Southwestern Oregon Community College is the premier destination on Oregon’s south coast for acquiring transfer degrees, high-skilled job training, and lifelong learning. Our staff and faculty are committed to student success at all levels. Southwestern has the highest graduation and transfer rate among all community colleges in Oregon. Learn more about Southwestern at www.socc.edu.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices and leadership strategies that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org and follow us on Twitter at @AspenHigherEd. 

Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative (SELI) strives to help education leaders further develop their ability to transform education systems and drive meaningful change. SELI programs bring together the strengths of Stanford Graduate School of Education and Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as additional Stanford faculty and resources, to offer multidimensional and immediately impactful professional development programming for practicing leaders in PreK-12, higher education, and policy. By fostering collaboration and building relationships between existing colleagues and among new peers, SELI programs create networks supporting participants’ continued learning and organizational improvement. For more information, visit https://seli.stanford.edu/.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.


Student Housing

Recreation Center

Curry Campus

Parents & Families


Campus Store


Pathways & Degrees


GED & Pre-College Education

Job & Workforce Training

Maritime Classes

Community Classes

Small Business Dev. Center

CARE Connections


International Students


High School Partnerships

Pay For College

Tuition & Fees

Financial Aid


Campus Safety

Accessible Education Services
TRIO Programs
Career Coach
Skip to content