When Lisa Skari, Ed.D., begins serving as president of Mt. Hood Community College on July 23, she'll bring with her significant experience in supporting and empowering a diverse student body and staff. Currently the Vice President for Institutional Advancement
at Highline College, Skari has spent 26 years working at the Des Moines, Washington-based community college. One of her proudest achievements at Highline: leading an initiative focused on recruiting and retaining faculty and staff of color.
“Our student body was increasingly diverse, but our employees were predominantly white,” said Skari. “Our Faculty and Staff of Color Recruitment and Retention Council looked at the data and developed strategies aimed at increasing diversity – such
as internal advancement and professional development opportunities. Today, our full-time faculty of color rates are the highest in Washington, exceeding 35 percent.”
Skari will serve as the 9th president of MHCC and follows Dr. Debra Derr, who will retire in June. When describing her leadership style, Skari said she practices servant leadership that encourages growth and development among her staff. She believes
in the importance of sharing power and empowering employees. And she acknowledges that while engagement and participatory governance can take a little more time, the end result is always best.
“In the private sector, I learned that by empowering employees and engaging them in cross-functional teams, we could create high-performing units and positive working environments,” said Skari. “And I’ve found these same strategies successful in a
Skari earned a bachelor’s degree in clothing and textiles from Washington State University (WSU) before beginning her career as a retail store manager and buyer. After earning a Master of Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University, she
started working at Highline as an adjunct faculty member. She went on to earn a Doctor of Education from WSU. At Highline College, she found an open, welcoming environment.
“I’m still inspired by the open-access mission of community colleges, and their promise of hope and opportunity,” said Skari. “Community colleges empower students, advance economic vitality and strengthen communities – and I can’t think of a more
"I'm still inspired by the open-access mission of community colleges, and their promise of hope and opportunity. Community colleges empower students, advance economic vitality and strengthen communities – and I can't think of a more rewarding endeavor."
Outside of her work at the college, Skari serves on the board of directors for the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, and she’s participated in Rotary International for 16 years. Through both organizations, she appreciates the opportunity to
serve and support her local community.
Skari counts being named the next president of MHCC among her greatest achievements to date. She looks forward to ensuring that the college remains a beacon of community support and that it continues to serve the local workforce by providing quality
education to students of all backgrounds.
“Mt. Hood Community College is truly a gem to East Multnomah County,” said Skari. “It affirms the incredible work that staff and faculty are doing there, and I’m excited to be a part of this great institution.”