President, Germanna Community College, Fredericksburg
Janet Gullickson initially didn’t think much about the importance of being named the first woman president of Germanna Community College in 2017, after having worked in higher education in Colorado, Minnesota and Washington state.
“I just thought, ‘Well, women should be in these positions,’” she says. “It shouldn’t be a big deal, but I guess it is.”
However, as a greater premium is placed on diverse leadership, Gullickson is glad to see more representation in institutions that have been historically led by white men.
Following the May 2020 murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd — which ignited activism around the nation — Germanna created a website called Black Minds Matter to connect students to resources and counseling. The college also began development on its Truth and Reconciliation Strategic Plan. “We really have made an effort in racial equity,” Gullickson says.
During her tenure, she also has helped develop partnerships with other institutions such as the University of Virginia, which waives application fees for Germanna transfer students seeking early admission. As of late May, Germanna was finalizing a similar partnership with George Mason University.
More recently, Gullickson has been involved in developing work-based learning programs for students to gain hands-on experience through paid internships. “We plan to have that rolled out for all of our students within the next year,” she says.