Jill Wakefield, Chancellor, Seattle Colleges

Jill Wakefield, Chancellor, Seattle Colleges

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Dr. Jill Wakefield is a visionary leader who is recognized for developing strategic partnerships and innovative solutions and for the depth of her experience in higher education. She became Chancellor of the Seattle Community Colleges in January 2009 after serving five years as president at South Seattle Community College, where she directed the development of leading-edge programs and an architecturally vibrant campus. 

Dr. Jill Wakefield is a visionary leader who is recognized for developing strategic partnerships and innovative solutions and for the depth of her experience in higher education. She became Chancellor of the Seattle Community Colleges in January 2009 after serving five years as president at South Seattle Community College, where she directed the development of leading-edge programs and an architecturally vibrant campus. 

While she was President, the college was the first in the state to offer an applied bachelor’s degree (in Hospitality Management), and as Chancellor, she has championed several more. She led a district-wide initiative promoting green and sustainable curriculum and programs, and stimulated numerous grants and initiatives supporting student success and retention, such as The Gates Foundation’s Pathway To Completion and the city’s Pathways to Careers grants. She also created a new leadership team, hiring new college presidents to replace interim and retiring presidents at the district’s three colleges.

Prior to her service as a college president, Wakefield held a variety of positions during a 30-year career at South, gaining extensive knowledge of community college administration, the region, and the state’s higher education system.

Wakefield is a community college graduate who earned her associate’s degree from Centralia College, bachelor’s degree in education from Central Washington University, master’s degree in public administration/public policy from the University of Washington, and doctorate in educational leadership from Seattle University.

She has taught as a part-time faculty member at Washington State University, Seattle University and Centralia College and serves as a Regional Accreditor for the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities. Her research, presentations and publications have focused on business and college partnerships that lead to more effective training and fund development.

Regionally, Wakefield serves on the boards of Workforce Development Council, Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County (EDC), Pioneer Human Services, Council for Adult & Experiential Learning (CAEL), and Higher Education Research and Development Institute (HERDI); she is a member of the RC-2020 association of selected urban community colleges or districts in North America, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Australia and Saudi Arabia. She is the vice chair of the city of Seattle Economic Development Commission and a member of Seattle Rotary, Education Results Project Sponsors Group, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Steering Committee, and Seattle City Council Families & Education Levy Planning Committee.

Her service in higher education includes membership on the boards of Seattle University, League for Innovation in the Community College, National Council for Resource Development, and Council for the Advancement of Secondary Education. She serves on the national Advisory

Committee of Presidents for the Association of Community College Trustees; is president-elect of the Washington state Community and Technical Colleges Presidents Association; and she is a member of the National Council on Black American Affairs.

Seattle Magazine named Wakefield to its list of Most Influential People of 2012. She has been honored as a Woman of Influence by the Puget Sound Business Journal and Communicator of the Year by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. She was selected for the Institute for Executive Management at Harvard University and the Executive Leadership Institute sponsored by the League for Innovation in the Community College. Centralia College named Wakefield its 2007 Alumna of the Year.