Riverland names a pair of new hires

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, June 27, 2024

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Riverland Community College has named Dr. Heather Conley Vice President of Academics and Innovation.  

Conley has most recently been working as an independent contractor and has previous academic work experience at Minnesota State College Southeast, Highlands College at Montana Technological University, Kirkwood Community College, Simpson College, Iowa State University and Montana State University Billings.  

Conley holds a Bachelor of Science from Northwest Missouri State University, and a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Iowa, all in Geography.

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“Heather brings with her a strong background in academics, grants, and workforce partnerships. She will play an integral role in the future of Riverland’s academic programming, ensuring that our graduates have the skills to serve our region’s business and industry.” said Riverland President Kat Linaker. “Additionally, her commitment to student success will help the college in our work to transform lives through increased economic mobility.”

A strong advocate for community colleges, Conley’s accomplishments include spearheading initiatives to address achievement gaps among historically excluded groups, expanding work-based learning opportunities, implementing career academies and certifications for high school students, and launching multiple academic programs in emerging technical careers. Conley has raised approximately $100 million in external funding, primarily supporting student success initiatives, academic programming, and adults with barriers to education and employment. 

Her work with community-based organizations and workforce development boards has focused on identifying new economic opportunities, attracting new businesses and industries, and developing a highly skilled workforce.

Conley begins July 1, and will primarily be on the Austin Campus in the West Building; however, she will also work with faculty and staff in Albert Lea and Owatonna.

Meanwhile, Riverland has announced that Kenneth Reid has been named vice president of Strategic Enrollment and Equity.  

Reid most recently worked within Minnesota State at Lake Superior College as associate vice president of Student Affairs. He is a student affairs professional with a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and a Master of Arts in Postsecondary Education: Student Affairs from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). 

Reid is committed to eliminating barriers within and increasing access to higher education for students, enhancing student support services, developing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts, advocating against social injustice, and creating an inclusive, welcoming campus community so all students can succeed. His objective is to be collaborative, communicative, and innovative.

“Riverland is focused on closing educational equity gaps across race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geographic location by the end of the decade,” Linaker said. “Kenneth’s commitment to increase access and remove barriers will give every enrolled student the best opportunity for success.”

Reid also begins July 1, and will be officed primarily on the Austin Campus in the East Building.