What We’re Up To


Save Time and Money: How Competency-Based Education and Prior Learning Assessment Streamlines Learning Pathways for Students

Dr. Emma Miller, Assistant Dean for Bachelor Programs, South Texas College
Dr. Christy Sugarman, Ex-Director, Center for Alternative Studies, NSCC
Heather Mayer, Project Coordinator, NERPLAC

Date: October 29, 2020, 11AM EST, 8AM PST

Webinar Description

Leaders of competency-based and prior learning assessment programs join us to discuss how colleges across the country are creating pathways for community members and students to save both time and money by offering a way to earn academic credit based on knowledge and skills gained from prior work experience and throughout life.


Speaker Bios:

Dr. Emma L. Miller has been in higher education administration in the state of Texas for over 20 years. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Management and Decision Science with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Change from Walden University. Currently, Dr. Miller is the program chair for the Competency-Based Education Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership program at South Texas College. As a researcher, she has focused on mentoring examining how it relates to student retention and attrition and its impact on the institution as well as Competency-Based Education. She has also served as Assistant Dean for the Bachelor Programs. In addition, Dr. Miller began serving as Board Member of the national organization Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) fall 2019.

Heather Mayer began working with adult learners and prior learning assessment in Texas in 2003. After graduating with an M.Ed. with a concentration in Student Affairs from Texas State University, Heather recruited traditional learners at her alma mater. She moved on to recruit and advise students for the adult learner program at St. Edward’s University in Austin, where she was introduced to prior learning assessment and it’s benefits for many students. Heather now works at North Shore Community College in Danvers, Massachusetts as the Project Coordinator for the Northeast Regional Prior Learning Assessment Consortium, continuing to promote prior learning assessment to residents of the local community.

For more than 40 years, North Shore Community College’s Center for Alternative Studies & Educational Testing serves students seeking pathways to college credits. The Center has an excellent reputation for offering a well-developed variety of best-practice Credit for Prior Learning programs. As Executive Director of the Center, Dr. Cristy Sugarman is a dedicated educator and champion for PLA and complementary strategies that serve nontraditional and under-served populations. Dr. Sugarman has been recognized both statewide and nationally for her leadership in PLA programming as a strategy for student access, affordability, and success. She leads NERPLAC’s professional development and education constituency.


Zoom-ing in: Presidential Advice in the Era of Virtual Interviews

Benjamin T. Duran, Ed.D. ; President of PPL
Dean C. Colli, Ed.D.; Vice-President
Lisa Sugimoto, Ed.D,; Vice-President
Jim Riggs, Ed.D.; Vice-President

Date: November 10th, 10am PST


Some of the country’s leading college executive search consultants will be sharing tips and tricks
about what boards look for when hiring Chancellors, Presidents, and Vice Presidents.

Learn from former college presidents about how to interview well and land the job.

Learn how the college executive interview process has changed in the era of COVID-19, Zoom interviews and the changing educational landscape.


Dr. Dean Colli joined PPL, Inc. in 2010—first as Senior Associate and, since 2012, as Co-Owner and Vice-President—where his consulting services have successfully supported executive searches and placed both interim administrators and expert consultants, all at California community colleges. In 2007, Dr. Colli retired from his 35-year career in California public education as interim president at Grossmont College, a position he held during his last two years after serving as the College’s vice-president for Academic Affairs since 1999. In his commitment to community service, Dean has been a member of and held leadership positions in numerous service organizations. Presently, he is a member of the San Luis Obispo County Salvation Army Advisory Board. In 2012, he began serving on the Board of Governance for The Salvation Army US Western Territory College for Officer Training at Crestmont and now chairs its Planning & Accreditation Committee.


Dr. Duran is Superintendent/President Emeritus of the Merced Community College District. Upon retirement in 2012, he joined PPL Inc. an executive search firm that serves community college districts in California. Currently he serves as President of the firm. During his tenure, he has served on a number of high-profile executive searches. In addition to serving as President of PPL, Inc., Dr. Duran is Executive Director of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium, and intersegmental organization that includes 27 public and private colleges and universities in a nine-county region in Central California. Dr. Duran is a product of California Community Colleges, having earned his Associate of Arts degree from Merced Community College. He took his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Stanislaus and his Master of Arts degree from Chapman University. Dr. Duran completed his doctoral studies at the University of Southern California with a specialization in Organizational Leadership.


 Dr. Jim Riggs served as the president of Columbia College for 10 years as well as the interim superintendent/president for Glendale Community College District. In June 2020 Jim retired from his tenured faculty position at CSU Stanislaus where he has taught in the Doctoral program in Educational Leadership since 2008. He joined PPL as an associate in 2015 and became a co- owner in the firm in 2019. Jim has been involved in numerous executive searches throughout California including West Kern Community College District, Cabrillo Community College District, Siskiyous Joint Community College District, Copper Mountain Community College District and San Joaquin Delta College District. He has also served as an educational consultant for several community colleges in the areas of leadership development, strategic planning, enrollment management, CEO and board development, and participatory governance. He has published several of articles and case studies on issues related to community college leadership, organizational transformation and student success; and was awarded the prestigious Patricia Cross Papers Fellowship in 2016.


 Dr. Lisa Sugimoto is a co-owner and Vice President. In her capacities with PPL, she has served as a co-consultant on in-person and virtual executive searches. For her work as a superintendent-president, Dr. Sugimoto received the Community Award by the Pasadena NAACP and the Apple Award by the Altadena NAACP. Lisa’s dissertation on how community college governing boards select their CEOs earned her the Association of California Community College Administrator’s (ACCCA) distinguished Mertes Award for Excellence in Community College Research and the UCLA Educational Leadership Achievement Award. Dr. Sugimoto earned her Doctorate in Education from UCLA’s Educational Leadership Program, her MBA and Masters Degree in Education from USC. She’s taught in the Business Department at Pasadena City College; the Rossier School of Education at USC; and the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA.





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Take Charge Of Your Brand : How are you managing your personal brand for professional and personal success?

Speaker: Guisselle Nunez
Date: November 3rd, 9AM PDT/10AM MDT/11AM CDT/12PM EDT.

Speaker Bio:

Guisselle takes her audience from revelation to results.  For over a decade, she mastered her craft by teaching personal branding and marketing to private and public sector audiences. Author of the book “Take Charge of Your Brand,” her seasoned, marketing and personal branding skills have helped thousands of professionals, with a large number being women, learn how to communicate their value, and advocate for themselves by building a strong personal brand.

Webinar Description

Did you know everyone has a personal brand? Some people just take a more active role in shaping that image and those that do are better positioned for success! Join us for an insightful presentation by a marketing and personal brand expert, Guisselle Nuñez, author of “Take Charge of your Brand” who will provide you with techniques to own, build and manage your personal brand.