Arthur E. Keiser, Ph.D., Chairman (House Republican)
Arthur Keiser is Chancellor of Keiser University and Chairman of the Board of Southeastern College. Dr. Keiser has served the higher education industry in various capacities for nearly 40 years. He served as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). Dr. Keiser is a former member of the Jacob K. Javits Fellows Program Fellowship Board. He served as elected Chairperson and Board Member of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). He was appointed by the Governor of Florida to the State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities and the State Board of Independent Postsecondary, Vocational, Technical, Trade and Business Schools. Dr. Keiser has also served as President of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC). Dr. Keiser earned his doctorate in Higher Education Administration at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kathleen Sullivan Alioto, Ed.D. (House Democrat)
Kathleen Sullivan Alioto is a Consultant who enables philanthropic, corporate, political, and educational leaders to make a genuine impact on students’ lives. She brings a depth and scope of knowledge, critical understanding, and vision that only experience with education’s myriad challenges can provide. In 1967 she began teaching at an innovative public school in Harlem, continuing her career in Boston where in addition to her success working with emotionally disturbed students and their parents she took on a school system desperately in need of reform. This led to her election as a member and, ultimately, as President of the School Board during Boston’s Desegregation Crisis. She earned a Doctorate in Education from Harvard and has since persisted in fighting for diverse, low-income families; prioritizing needs, strategically identifying opportunities to meet those needs, and finding essential support to improve school systems and community colleges.
Dr. Ronnie L. Booth, Ph.D. (Education Department)
Dr. Ronnie L. Booth retired in 2019 as President of Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year technical and community college serving Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties in South Carolina with campuses in Anderson, Easley, Pendleton, and Westminster.
During his sixteen years at Tri-County, Dr. Booth launched three community campuses, three Workforce Training Centers, an Economic Development Center, and a state-of-the-art Industrial Technology Center. In addition, he led the establishment of several groundbreaking initiatives, including the nationally-recognized Bridge to Clemson program with Clemson University and the Connect to College program for high school dropouts.
A native of Aiken, South Carolina, Dr. Booth holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, a master’s in Education in Student Personnel Services, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and Policies from the University of South Carolina. He also holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Clemson University.
During his tenure, he served in a number of professional associations, civic groups, and State and national boards, including the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; Executive Committee of the Upstate SC Alliance; Board of Directors for Anderson County Economic Development, Duke Energy South Carolina President’s Advisory Board; Alliance Pickens, WorkLink, Oconee Economic Alliance, SENIOR Solutions, Community Colleges of Appalachia, Partnership for Academic and Career Education, and Tamassee DAR School. He is a former member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and former chair of the AACC Finance Committee, Leadership South Carolina Board of Directors, and Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce.
He is married to Sara Booth and they have two adult daughters, Ashley and Erin, and two granddaughters. They make their home in Anderson, SC.
Jill Derby, Ph.D. (Senate Democrat)
Jill Derby is a cultural anthropologist by background and training. Dr. Derby is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani in Kurdistan, and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. Dr. Derby served as an adjunct faculty member in two Nevada colleges. She also served 18 years on the Nevada Board of Regents – the governing board of the Nevada System of Higher Education – filling three terms as board chair. She currently is a governance consultant for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
George T. French, Jr., Ph.D. (House Democrat)
George T. French, Jr. is the President of Miles College in Fairfield, AL. He formerly served as the Director of Development at Miles College and is a Christian Methodist Episcopal minister. Dr. French is a graduate of the University of Louisville with a law degree from Miles College.
Brian W. Jones (House Republican)
Brian W. Jones is the 15th President of Strayer University. He joined Strayer in 2012, initially serving as its general counsel and later serving as a founding team member of Strayer@Work, a business unit focused on corporate skills development. Prior to joining Strayer University, he co-founded and served as president of Latimer Education, Inc., an early-stage venture-backed company partnering with a historically black college to provide online postsecondary education solutions to African American working adults. Mr. Jones previously served for four years as the U.S. Department of Education’s general counsel, a Senate-confirmed presidential appointment, during the administration of President George W. Bush.
Mr. Jones currently chairs the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and serves on the board of directors of College Loan Corporation. He previously served as chair of the D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB), the sole authorizer of public charter schools in the nation’s capital. He is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow, a program of the Aspen Institute that seeks to strengthen and sustain diverse, high potential leaders who are reimagining public education.
He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Georgetown University.
Paul LeBlanc Ph.D. (Senate Democrat)
Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc is President of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Under the 15 years of Paul’s direction, SNHU has grown from 2,500 students to over 100,000 on campus and online. SNHU is the second largest non-profit provider of online higher education in the country, and the first to have a full competency-based degree program untethered to the credit hour or classes, approved by a regional accreditor and the US Department of Education. He served as Senior Policy Advisor to Under Secretary Ted Mitchell at the US Department of Education, working on competency-based education, new accreditation pathways, and innovation. In addition to his work at SNHU, he serves on The American Council on Education’s Board of Directors and on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Board on Higher Education and Workforce (and served on its Committee on Quality in Undergraduate Education). Paul immigrated to the United States as a child, was the first person in his extended family to attend college, and is a graduate of Framingham State University (BA), Boston College (MA), and the University of Massachusetts (PhD).
Anne D. Neal, J.D. (Senate Republican)
Ms. Neal is currently the President of The Garden Club of America. She co-founded the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) and was president from 2003 – 2016. She is currently ACTA’s Senior Fellow. Prior to joining ACTA, she served as General Counsel for the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also worked as a First Amendment and communications lawyer for Rogers & Wells, and for Wiley Rein & Fielding and as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Harvard College with an A.B. in American history and literature and received her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She has served on the boards of many cultural, environmental and civic organizations and is currently a trustee of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, The Garden Club of America, and the Alexander Hamilton Institute.
Richard F. O’Donnell (Senate Republican)
Rick O’Donnell is founder and CEO of Skills Fund, a financing and quality assurance platform for accelerated learning programs. He spent two terms in the Colorado Governor’s Cabinet. As Executive Director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, Mr. O’Donnell was the chief consumer protection official in the state with direct oversight of the Financial Services, Securities, Banking, Insurance, and Public Utilities Commissioners as well as all occupational licensing agencies. As Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, he oversaw all 29 public colleges and universities – from community colleges to research universities – the regulation of private and occupational schools, the state’s student loan guarantee agency, and the state’s college savings plan administrator. An entrepreneur, Mr. O’Donnell has founded two social ventures and two for-profit ventures. His last start-up, College Portfolio, was acquired by Fullbridge, where Rick then served as Chief Revenue Officer. Previous positions include President of the Acton Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence and President of the Fund for Colorado’s Future. An active civic leader, he has served on more than a dozen boards, from the publicly traded Princeton Review to the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education. Mr. O’Donnell is an honors graduate of The Colorado College with a B.A. in History/Political Science.
Claude O. Pressnell Jr., (Senate Republican)
Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr., President, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, is a native of Kansas, has spent nearly 30 years in higher education administration. He began his career at Southwest Baptist University in Missouri as an admission recruiter; within a year advanced to the position of Senior Director of Admissions and Student Development. He holds a doctorate in higher education administration/educational leadership from Vanderbilt University. While attending Vanderbilt he served as the Director of Financial Assistance and Assistant Professor of Religion at Belmont University. In 1995 he served as the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Family Studies in Colorado. Pressnell soon returned to Tennessee to become the Executive Director of the Tennessee Foundation for Independent Colleges and since 2000 has served as President of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association. In 2003 the United States Senate appointed Pressnell to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance where he served as Vice Chair from 2007 until his second and final term expired in 2008. In 2007, he testified before Congress on higher education policy issues. The Committee serves as an independent source of advice and counsel to the United States Congress and the Secretary of Education on student aid issues and higher education policy. In June of 2011, Pressnell was selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to develop the student financing policy for the Government of the Maldives. The policy and funding mechanisms were adopted by the Maldivian Parliament in 2012. In August of 2013, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Pressnell as a Commissioner representing the state’s interests on the Education Commission of the States. In 2014 Pressnell was appointed by four US Senators to serve on a committee to recommend a pathway to reduce the federal regulatory burden on higher education in the United States. Pressnell serves on numerous international, national, and state level boards. He also has served as an international advisor on higher education reform in the Middle East, the Balkan region of Europe and South America.
Ralph Wolff, J.D. (House Democrat)
Ralph Wolff is the founder and president of The Quality Assurance Commons for Higher and Postsecondary Education, recently created to develop a certification process assuring that graduates of academic and postsecondary programs have the requisite Essential Employability Qualities needed for the dynamically changing workforce. Previously, he served as president of the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) from 1996-2013.
He is currently a member of the University Quality Assurance Institutional Board (UQAIB) in Dubai, which reviews all universities operating in the Free Zones; the University Council of United States International University – Africa in Nairobi, Kenya; and the Board of Trustees of Palo Alto University (California). He also serves on the Education Committee of the Global Laureate Network of Universities.
Mr. Wolff earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor degree, with high honors, from the National Law Center of the George Washington University.
Steven Van Ausdle, Ph.D. (Senate Democrat)
Steven VanAusdle served as president of Walla Walla Community College since 1984 and was named President Emeritus in 2016 when he retired. Walla Walla Community College won the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence under his leadership in 2013. VanAusdle served six years as a Commissioner for the Northwest Accrediting Association on Colleges and Universities. While on the Commission, he served as a member or chair of ten evaluation visits.
VanAusdle served on the Nation’s Competitiveness Council and as Vice President of the Washington State Economic Development Commission. The National Journal named Walla Walla Community College one of the top 50 innovators in the U.S. and one of four finalists in the Regional Economic Strategies Category in recognition of his efforts toward successfully “reinventing a regional economy”. In 2011 the White House honored VanAusdle as a “Champion of Change” for his efforts in building stronger communities and a stronger nation. He earned a Bachelor and Master’s degree from Washington State University and a doctoral degree from The Ohio State University in 1980.