Innovations 2024 Wednesday Keynote

Closing General Session Keynote
Wednesday, March 20
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Mary F.T. Spilde

Director, Executive Leadership Institute, League for Innovation in the Community College

Keynote Address

Generative Leadership

There is no question that we live in increasingly complicated and complex times. These volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environments require new and innovative leadership responses. There is a growing chorus that conventional ideas about leadership in our colleges and classrooms are not adequate for today’s challenges. We need new images of leadership that resonate throughout our colleges to drive innovation and imagination. This session will explore what has been called Generative Leadership—leading with head, heart, and hand—and how it might be applied to resolving the most pressing problems in our colleges.


Dr. Mary Spilde served as President of Lane Community College for 16 years. She was named President Emerita upon her retirement from the college in June 2017. She is a nationally respected authority on community colleges, workforce development, leadership, and sustainability. Spilde has 37 years of experience in higher education. She was named Lane’s sixth president in 2001, after serving six years in two vice president roles. Before Lane, she held a variety of leadership positions at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon, for 15 years. She has a bachelor's degree in business and social systems and a law degree from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and a master's degree in adult education and a doctorate in postsecondary education from Oregon State University. Spilde is a frequent presenter and author.

Spilde has served on a number of influential committees and boards at the national level, including as Chair of the Board of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and board member of the American Association of Colleges and Universities and the League for Innovation in the Community College. She has also served on numerous nonprofit and corporate boards.

Spilde has received many national and state awards. She received the AACC Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2019; in 2011, she was named the national CEO of the Year by the Association of Community College Trustees. In 2012, she received the Woman of the Year Award from the American Association of Women in Community Colleges and the U.S. Green Building Council President’s Award, and was named Eugene First Citizen for her work in catalyzing downtown revitalization.

Spilde continues to design and deliver leadership and organizational development programs. She directs the League’s Executive Leadership Institute and consults with colleges and nonprofits to develop emotionally intelligent and results-oriented organizations. Spilde designed and facilitates an Executive Leadership Academy for the Oregon Community College Association to improve the pipeline of future leaders. She is also a Leadership Coach for Achieving the Dream. Spilde facilitates board retreats focused on board/president relationships and onboarding new presidents/CEOs. Spilde facilitates the AACC New President/CEO Academy. She is a Certified Leadership Coach working with senior leaders throughout the country.

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