Dr. Karen A. Stout became President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., on July 1, 2015. Karen is a nationally renowned scholar and academic leader in strategies for enhancing student success and completion, data informed decision making, accelerating and scaling innovation, and new approaches to community college fundraising. She has served in leadership roles in a number of national higher education organizations and centers, including the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, serving as Chair from 2008 to 2015 and currently serving on the President’s Advisory Board; Board of Directors of Campus Compact; and Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges. At AACC, Karen also served as co-chair of the Implementation Steering Committee of AACC’s 21st-Century Commission Report, working with more than 100 leaders from across the country to develop a framework for the redesign of America’s community colleges. Currently, Karen is a Commissioner for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and a member of its Executive Committee.
Karen is a frequent national presenter and writer on topics ranging from leadership, student success, strategic planning, fundraising, and using data to support continuous improvement. In 2014 she was invited by U.S. President Barack Obama to participate in the White House Summit in which 140 leaders from higher education, philanthropic organizations, businesses and local and state governments launched a plan of action for increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students, and was a panelist at the U.S. News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference, discussing viable solutions for America’s skills and education gap in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She wrote the forewords to Re-visioning Community Colleges: Positioning for Innovations and Getting the Green: Fundraising Campaigns for Community Colleges. She also wrote chapters entitled Leading and Learning: Structures and Strategies for Accelerating Innovation and Navigating the Relationship Between Governing and Foundation Boards.
Prior to her appointment at Achieving the Dream, Karen led Montgomery County Community College as president for more than 14 years. During her tenure, the college received a number of national awards and distinctions. In 2014, the college was recognized nationally for its work in student success, receiving Achieving the Dream’s Leah Meyer Austin Award for significant institutional improvement supporting student achievement. The college was selected as one of seven institutions in the country named to the Next Generation Learning Challenges Breakthrough Models Incubator national grant program, and was ranked consistently among the top ten digital savvy community colleges in the country by the Center for Digital Education. A national leader in advancing sustainability, the college earned the 2011 and 2014 Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature. To honor her many contributions to the college and community, the MCCC Board of Trustees named Karen President Emerita.
Before joining Montgomery County Community College, Karen served as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Enrollment Services at Camden County College, and as the CEO of its Rohrer Campus in New Jersey. She also held positions at two community colleges in Maryland.
Karen holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Baltimore, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Delaware. She was named to the University of Delaware’s Alumni Wall of Fame in 2005 for her outstanding professional and public service achievements, and received a Presidential Citation from the University for her contributions to community colleges in 2012.