President’s Speaker Series

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Strength, Courage, and Resilience in the 21st Century

The Guttman Community College President’s Speaker Series seeks to illuminate the stories of key figures in New York City.  The Series also aims to introduce the Guttman community to persons who are champions for student success and community colleges. This year’s theme is entitled, “Strength, Courage, and Resilience in the 21st Century” to reflect the nation’s grapple with two pandemics: health and social and racial injustices. Join Guttman President Dr. Larry Johnson, Jr. as he engages in lively virtual discussions with guests every month. Events are free and open to the public.

The President’s Speaker Series will return in Fall 2022



Dr Christine Mangino

Queensborough Community College President Christine Mangino

Dr. Christine Mangino, the sixth president of Queensborough Community College, formerly served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York.

Dr. Mangino is an alumna of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a leadership program that prepares community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve high and equitable levels of student success.

She began her tenure at Hostos as an Assistant Professor for Early Childhood Education in 2004 and soon after served as Coordinator, Chairperson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Interim Provost. Prior to Hostos, Dr. Mangino taught in both an early childhood center, as an elementary school teacher, and later on as an adjunct professor at St. John’s University. She served on nine doctoral dissertation committees, chairing four of them. Dr. Mangino began her education earning an Associate’s degree from Nassau Community College, a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in education from Hofstra University and a doctoral degree in Instructional Leadership from St. John’s University. Like many community college students, Dr. Mangino was the first in her family to attend college.

Dr. Mangino presents at national and international conferences on topics such as differentiated instruction, learning styles, and leadership. She was an invited keynote speaker for faculty at Oregon State University, the 21st Century Principals Forum in Beijing and Shanghai, China and for an international Learning Styles conference in Denmark. Dr. Mangino has served her community as the co-president of the North Merrick Special Education Parent Teacher Association, a Girl Scout leader, and a volunteer counselor for a suicide hotline.

Dr Patricia Ramsey

Medgar Evers College President Patricia Ramsey

Dr. Patricia Ramsey was appointed by the City University of New York Board of Trustees to serve as the sixth President of Medgar Evers College (MEC), effective May 1, 2021. She is the first woman and first scientist to serve in the role and after only a short time as President, was named to City and State’s 2021 Brooklyn Power 100 list. Distinguished as a “National Role Model” by Minority Access, Inc., Dr. Ramsey is a leader and a scholar with a deep commitment to excellence and a passion for making a difference.

After only six weeks as President of MEC, Dr. Ramsey spoke at the New York City Mayor’s press conference, where a $20 million grant for scholarships and internships for MEC students was announced; the single largest grant in the history of MEC. The $20 million award was a part of the Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan and includes full scholarships for freshmen and transfer students, as well provide students with experiential learning opportunities through paid internships and access to career support, while benefiting communities throughout Brooklyn, through a newly established Brooklyn Recovery Corps program.

An advocate for health equity, Dr. Ramsey spoke at a press conference held by New York State Lt. Gov., now Governor, Kathy Hochul, where a $9.3 million healthcare hub award was announced. The collaborative grant between MEC, Brooklyn College and Kingsborough Community College, funds a healthcare career hub in Central and South Brooklyn, which prepares high school and college students for quality jobs in the health-related professions. Read More

Through her visionary approach to education and commitment to expanding economic, social justice, and health equity, Dr. Ramsey was instrumental in launching the College’s cannabis education program, the first CUNY campus to do so. Students may choose from 13 newly developed courses to earn a cannabis degree minor in the areas of testing, cultivation, business, or health, which will prepare them for professional opportunities in this burgeoning industry.

Dr. Ramsey comes to Medgar Evers College from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), where she served as senior executive fellow. Prior to TMCF, she was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. For nearly 12 years, she served in various capacities at Bowie State University: tenured full professor, provost, interim president, and chair of the department of natural sciences. During her tenure at Bowie, she was a thought leader for the current 149,000 square foot $102 million Center for Natural Sciences Mathematics and Nursing building, which won LEED Platinum certification.  Dr. Ramsey also previously held positions as vice president for academic affairs at Shaw University and associate vice president for development at Norfolk State University.

Globally, Dr. Ramsey was a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) delegation to Liberia, which served in an education advisory capacity to the country’s former President, The Honorable Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In Nigeria, Dr. Ramsey was critical to the success of a biotechnology training partnership between Godfrey Okoye University (GOU), in Enugu and Bowie State University, and had the opportunity to be a talk-show guest on GOU-Radio.

A biologist by training, Dr. Ramsey has a research interest in the biological activity of plants used in folklore, has collected 110 species of Agave in the Sonoran Desert, and traveled a 450-mile span of highway collecting Sapium sebiferum (popcorn tree) leaves in the southeastern United States. Dr. Ramsey earned the B.S. in Biology Education from Norfolk State University, M.S. in Botany from Howard University, A.M. in Biology from Harvard University, and the Ph.D. in Biology from Georgetown University. She completed executive leadership programs in AASCU’s MLI program, Harvard’s IEM program, and CIVIC’s leadership institute.

Dr Vanessa Valdes

Macaulay Honors College Interim Dean Vanessa K. Valdés

Macaulay Honors College Interim Dean Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés is an accomplished scholar, historian, author, and mentor of students. She joins Macaulay after serving two and a half years as Director of City College’s Black Studies Program, overseeing 1,100 students per year, more than 20 faculty and staff members, and over 60 majors and minors.

A graduate of Yale and Vanderbilt Universities, Dr. Valdés’s research interests focus on the cultural production of Black peoples throughout the Americas: the United States and Latin America, including Brazil, and the Caribbean.

Her book on the influential and foundational historian, writer, collector and activist Arturo Alfonso Schomburg—Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (2017)—is regarded as the definitive account of his experiences as a Black Puerto Rican-born scholar and the intersection of his multi-ethnic backgrounds. Her latest book, Racialized Visions: Haiti and the Hispanic Caribbean (2020) is an edited collection that re-centers Haiti in the disciplines of Caribbean and Latin American Studies.

Dr. Valdés is a frequent speaker, examining themes of cultural identity and womanhood within the context of Black history and the African diaspora.

Dr. Valdés began her academic career in 2007 as Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages in the Division of Humanities and the Arts at The City College of New York. In her fourteen years there, she earned tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2014, and attained the rank of Professor during her directorship in 2019.

Olad Aden & George Suttles

Olad Aden

Olad Aden

Olad Aden is an African-German-American Street Social Worker, Photographer and Videographer based in Berlin, Germany. In this capacity, he has initiated and facilitated a number of youth exchange programs like “The BronxBerlinConnection“. Together with a group of Social Workers and teaching artists he has been conducting the project „ZwischenWelten“ in the youth detention facility Berlin for the last five years. In addition, he co-curated a number of cultural projects. In 2010 he co-curated “Translating Hip Hop“ which took place in Manila, Bogota, Beirut, Nairobi, and Berlin for the House of World Cultures in Berlin. He co-initiated and co-curated “SPOKEN WOR:L:DS”, a literature/rap project between Berlin and Nairobi for the Literatur Werkstatt-Berlin and a project called DExZA, a poetry/rap/music performance exchange program between Johannesburg and Berlin funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation/The Goethe Institut and the German Consulate in South Africa. Together with an amazing group of artists he curated, organized, and presented the project “Be-troit” in Detroit and Berlin in 2015. He currently works on a full-length documentary about the Berlin-based street outreach project „Gangway“ which celebrates its 30 year anniversary this year. His photography was recently featured in the exhibition „Counter Narratives“ in Berlin. The Film “The BronxBerlinConnection” he shot in NYC in 2018 together with Paris-based filmmaker Alsy N`Diaye was nominated to several film festivals in 2020. It won the Hip Hop Film Festival in Rome, was selected to the Black International Film Festival in Montreal, The Angeles Docs Festival and it was screened in Berlin and NYC.

George Suttles

George Suttles

George Suttles leads Commonfund’s educational, market research, and professional development activities as Executive Director of Commonfund Institute. He also serves as a member of the Commonfund Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office. Prior to joining Commonfund, George was a Program Officer at the John A. Hartford Foundation, an independent, national private foundation focused on improving care for older adults. Before joining the foundation, he was a Vice President, Senior Philanthropic Relationship Manager at U.S. Trust/Bank of America. In this role he worked with private and institutional clients on issues related to best practices in strategic grantmaking. Throughout his career, George has supported the philanthropic activities of leading nonprofits with a focus on healthcare and related missions. He is also a member of numerous nonprofit boards, including Odyssey House, Drive Change, and the Support Center for Nonprofit Management. Currently, he is on the Adjunct Faculty at the New York University (NYU) School of Professional Studies. George received a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an M.A. in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (IUPUI) and an M.P.A. from Baruch CUNY School of Public Affairs.

Ron Kim 

Ron Kim

Ron Kim

As the first and only Korean-American elected official in New York, Assemblyman Ron Kim has broken boundaries and bridged neighborhoods. His work as a representative led to city and statewide coverage (New York Times, Business Insider, the Daily Mail, NBC, New Observer, NY Daily News, and MSN Money) when he mediated an issue between businesses and local senior citizens seeking social spaces in Flushing’s crowded neighborhoods. He used this opportunity to write and introduce legislation called the “Community Corner Café Fund”, providing tax credits to mom-and-pop diners, cafes, and restaurants for working with local nonprofits to serve older adults.

Since 2012, Ron’s district office has served more than 35,000 constituents on a diverse range of issues, from resolving fraud cases to providing free tax preparation and applying for governmental assistance. He was appointed the Chair of the Task Force on New Americans in 2015, the Vice-Chair of the Assembly Majority Conference in 2017, the Chair of House Operations in 2019, and the Chair of the Assembly Aging Committee in 2020. Ron has never hesitated to do whatever he needs to do to help his constituents, even if it means tackling a purse-snatcher to the ground near his district office (ABC News, Daily Mail, NY Post).

Juvanie Piquant

Juvanie Piquant

Juvanie Piquant 

Juvanie Piquant is the first Haitian-American woman to serve as the University Student Senate (USS) Chairperson. She represents more than 500,000 full and part-time CUNY students in New York State and is the only student member of the City University of New York Board of Trustees.

Ms. Piquant is a senior at New York City College of Technology where she is majoring in Law & Paralegal Studies. Previously, Ms. Piquant also served as the Vice-Chair of Legislative Affairs for the USS, ensuring the students of CUNY had a representative that would advocate for the advancement and affordability of higher education at local, state, and federal levels. Prior to her work at the USS, Ms. Piquant served on the Board of Directors for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) for two consecutive years, focusing on higher education and environmental policy in New York City and New York State.

As an aspiring attorney, Ms. Piquant is a member of the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York (HALANY), which has a goal of working with various individuals in the legal profession to create access and opportunities for aspiring law school students. As a Brooklyn native, born and raised by Haitian immigrants in Canarsie, Juvanie has seen first-hand the importance of access and affordability of education for the most marginalized in New York City and hopes to empower the youth and her peers at CUNY.