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News Release
PCC announces executive leadership for new divisions (Photo) - 05/22/23

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Community College will have a few new and familiar faces in its leadership ranks. 

Dr. Steven Nakana has been chosen as PCC’s new Vice President of People Strategy, Equity and Culture. He will begin in his new position on June 5. This division was created following a reorganization of the college’s Human Resources and Office of Equity and Inclusion offices into one department. 

Dr. Nakana is PGE’s Community Outreach Manager where he is tasked with leading the company’s community outreach work that prioritizes equitable engagement and outreach to underserved communities and helping to embed equity, diversity, and inclusion across the enterprise. He holds a doctorate in International Studies from the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, which obtained a sum cum laude recognition. Dr. Nakana also holds two master’s degrees in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and International Relations from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and a two-year graduate certificate in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

Before joining PGE, he served as the Port of Portland’s Shared Prosperity Strategy and Enterprise Management Senior Manager.

“I’m excited to see how he continues the momentum of the new combined department that is crucial to the College’s reorganization and equity and inclusion efforts,” said Dr. Adrien Bennings, PCC president.

Kurt Simonds – Vice President for Strategy, Policy, & Integrated Planning

Simonds has been selected as the college’s first Vice President for Strategy, Policy, & Integrated Planning. He started in his new role on May 15.

Simonds has been a leader at Portland Community College since 2005, serving in a variety of roles across the college, first as Division Dean for Student Support Services at Sylvania, then as Division Dean for Liberal Arts and Sciences at Southeast, Dean of Instruction at Cascade, and Interim Executive Dean of College Operations.

He has been involved in instructional leadership, faculty hiring and assessment, facilities planning, budget planning, COVID operations, college reopening, and workforce transformation. He has served on the Strategic Planning Committee, the YESS Steering Committee, the College Budget Planning Committee, the Bond Advisory Committee, the Education Advisory Council, and the President’s Cabinet.

He earned his undergraduate degree in English and American Language and Literature from Harvard University and his master’s degree in English and Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. He also studied creative writing at Boston University and Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Connecticut.  

“Kurt is focused on bringing clarity and engagement to the planning and policy processes at PCC,” added Dr. Bennings.

Howard Croom – Associate Vice President of People Strategy, Equity, and Culture

Dr. Howard Croom III will be the college’s first Associate Vice President of PSEC. He will start in his new position on June 13.

“I’m excited to join PCC, especially at this time, as the college is going through a reorganization that is centering equity, inclusion, and people’s experiences with the institution – students, staff, faculty, community members, and everyone who touches the college,” Dr. Croom said. “It’s a great time to join PCC and I look forward to contributing to the work that supports President Dr. Adrien Bennings vision for the college. With PCC representing such a critical access point to higher education within the state of Oregon, there’s no institution I’d rather be a part of.”

Dr. Croom is an equity-minded, justice-oriented leader with 13 years of experience in higher education spanning faculty work, student affairs, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. He currently serves as Oregon State University’s Associate Athletic Director, Chief Diversity Officer & Director of Student Services in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. In this role, he leads the development and implementation of the OSU Athletics DEIB Strategic Plan, which includes education and training for all students and staff, human resource management, external communication, and assessment. Additionally, Dr. Croom oversees several areas related to the holistic development of OSU student-athletes and supervises the Men’s Wrestling program.

Prior to his current role at OSU, Dr. Croom had previous stops at Oregon State (2010-2012), UC Irvine (2013-2014), the University of Southern California (2014-2021), and Cypress College (2019). He graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and a master’s in Public Policy. He also earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Southern California.


About Portland Community College: Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and provides training, degree and certificate completion, and lifelong learning to more than 50,000 full- and part-time students in Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, and Columbia counties. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, 10 education centers or areas served, and approximately 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning. 

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