SILVER SPRING, MD — Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, was sworn in today to serve a six-year term on the National Council on the Humanities, which is dedicated to strengthening our democracy by promoting excellence in the humanities.
A leading higher education advocate, Dr. Stout is dedicated to strengthening community colleges to increase student success, achieve more equitable outcomes that drive social and economic mobility, and create more vibrant communities. She has recognized that promoting individual success in higher education is not enough — we must ensure that all generations have skills and knowledge to earn a good living, raise a family, and participate in society. Dr. Stout has led the effort to help community colleges build capacity in data, pedagogy, and holistic student supports to improve student success and build stronger communities.
The humanities anchor and drive the reform work of community colleges. ATD Network colleges with strong outcomes infuse the humanities throughout their transfer and workforce curricula because of the powerful skills that they build for learners — critical thinking, analysis, and insight making. Community colleges are also, in many communities, cultural destinations and hubs that support keeping local history and culture vibrant.
“As a leader, I have always been a learner first. That orientation is anchored and fueled by my love of art, literature, culture — the humanities — which drive my curiosity. This curiosity has been important for supporting our colleges in asking the questions that help them strengthen their student success efforts and connect in deeper ways with their communities,” Dr. Stout said. “I’m honored to serve on this commission. I hope I can continue to learn and bring new ideas and energy that strengthen the access to and reach of the humanities, particularly for underserved communities.”
Dr. Stout was nominated for the position by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., in November 2021, approved by the Senate in May 2022, and will serve a six-year term.
She was sworn in today with private equity lawyer Christine Kim, a founding member of Big Burn Bliss, LLC, a private equity firm.
“We are delighted to welcome these two distinguished individuals to the National Council on the Humanities,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “Christine Kim and Karen Stout bring a wide range of leadership experience in legal and nonprofit management. We look forward to drawing on their wisdom and expertise as NEH seeks to expand its grantmaking to better meet the needs of underserved communities.”
Dr. Stout’s role as a member of the panel will be to advise the chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities and review grant applications. The next meeting of the National Council will be in mid-July.
Dr. Stout has served as president and CEO of Achieving the Dream (ATD) since 2015, leading a national network of community colleges focused on whole-college transformation that directly addresses inequitable outcomes for students. She previously served as president of Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) from 2001 to 2015. Upon leaving the college, Montgomery’s Board granted her president emerita status and named the student success center in her honor.
“The entire Montgomery College family and I congratulate Dr. Stout on this prestigious appointment,” said Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, president of MCCC. “As we have seen here at MCCC, her lifelong work promoting community colleges and student success combined with her passion for the humanities and its profound impact on the economy’s prosperity make her an excellent candidate for this role. We are pleased for her and wish her much continued success.”
Dr. Stout was recently presented the 2022 American Association for Community Colleges (AACC) Leadership Award and she is among the newest members of the recently created AACC Hall of Fame. She was named one of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education’s Leading Women, American Association for Women in Community College’s Woman of the Year, and one of Washington Monthly’s 16 most innovative higher education leaders, among other recognitions. She also was granted honorary degrees by Miami Dade College and Montgomery County Community College.
She is a founding member of the College Promise National Advisory Board. She serves as chair of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research Advisory Board at North Carolina State University and as co-chair of the University of Maryland Global Campus Doctorate of Management in Community College Policy and Administration Advisory Board. She is a member of the Community College Research Center Presidents Advisory Board, the Common App Board of Directors, and the HERS Board of Directors. In addition, she is faculty and mentor for the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship and the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship and has been a presenter for the League of Innovation Executive Leadership Institute since 2005.
Dr. Stout has an Ed.D. in educational leadership from the University of Delaware, an MBA from the University of Baltimore, and a B.A. in English and journalism from the University of Delaware. She is a graduate of Bel Air High School in Harford County, MD.
Achieving the Dream (ATD) is a partner and champion of more than 300 community colleges across the country. Drawing on our expert coaches, groundbreaking programs, and national peer network, we provide institutions with integrated, tailored support for every aspect of their work — from foundational capacities such as leadership, data and equity to intentional strategies for supporting students holistically, building K–12 partnerships, and more. We call this Whole College Transformation. Our vision is for every college to be a catalyst for equitable, antiracist, and economically vibrant communities. We know that with the right partner and the right approach, colleges can drive access, completion rates, and employment outcomes — so that all students can access life-changing learning that propels them into community-changing careers. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.