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 serves on the city of Seattle Economic Development Commission and is 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.
District Public Information Office
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Green for the 21st Century in Seattle
Innovations in curriculum and operations have earned the 2009 Green Washington Award for the Seattle Community Colleges
– Central, North and South. All three colleges are active members of the Seattle Climate Partnership and North was an
early signer of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. A district-wide Chancellor’s
Sustainability Initiative provides energy, focus and a forum for emerging training and initiatives.
Sustainability is infused into programs ranging from urban agriculture at Central to environmental science,
real estate and building management across the district. Students have funded a sustainability coordinator.
Campus activities include reducing the carbon footprint and promoting recycling and energy conservation, which earned
a “Recycler of the Year” award for South. Last year, the college culinary operations diverted 31 tons of
materials to a regional composting facility – which returned the compost to “green” the college landscape.
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Helping displaced workers to
‘Start Next Quarter’
During the economic downturn, thousands of displaced workers turned to the Seattle Community Colleges at the same
time regional employers reported a need for skilled workers to fill jobs in the new economy. To help both potential
workers and employers, the Seattle Community Colleges developed Start Next Quarter (SNQ), a two-part initiative
designed to improve the success of dislocated workers who enroll in technical education programs. SNQ invites
prospective students to assess their eligibility for workforce funding online and connects them to a comprehensive
two-day college success workshop held at each campus. The workshops are based on a model developed at one of the
district campuses. Students who complete the workshop are more likely to complete their training programs and to
obtain jobs using their new skills. The project was developed in part through a grant from the League for Innovation,
funded by the Walmart Foundation Bright Futures project to serve displaced workers.
A Model for the Region
The Opportunity Center for Employment and Education at North Seattle Community College is a regional resource and
the first integrated service center of its kind in Washington state. Since the OCE&E opened its doors in spring 2011,
more than 40,000 people have come for one-stop help in finding a new job, career retraining or to sign up for public
assistance benefits. Founding partners were the state Departments of Social and Health Services and Employment
Security, the college, and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. The campus and the new LEED
Gold Certified 45,000-square foot facility are in the heart of Seattle’s north end and close to a major transit hub.
House Speaker Frank Chopp and Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (sponsor of the legislation and a former Seattle District trustee)
championed the OCE&E in the state legislature. The center aims to provide streamlined services in a positive environment,
helping clients succeed in the next stage of their lives.