Profile: Christina Reed, newly appointed acting director of the New College Institution, looks forward to “the vision or next step for NCI.” | Business News
Christina Reed, who first encountered New College Institute when it was just the birth of an idea, now leads the institution as interim executive director.
Reed, the institution’s deputy director of finance and operations, joined NCI in January 2011. She was named acting director at the June board meeting, effective July 1, replacing former acting director Karen Jackson.
Reed grew up in Patrick County. The 1996 graduate of Patrick County High School was a first-generation student when she attended Patrick Henry Community College.
“I was actually going to Patrick & Henry Community College determined to be a teacher,” she said, until she “didn’t like the classes.”
Ironically, or perhaps rightly so, these courses were an earlier version of what NCI would eventually offer: distance learning courses with instructors from another college. These were TeleTechNet courses via Old Dominion University: the instructor, who was at a different location, taught via video transmitted to a classroom at the PHCC.
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“They couldn’t see you, but you could see the teacher,” she said. “They forced you to participate because they wanted to know you were there and paying attention by asking a question through the microphone. It wasn’t for me.
While those distance learning courses dissuaded her from teaching, learning accounting steered her interest in a new direction. She ended up graduating from Averett University in 2000 in Business Administration with a major in Accounting.
While in college, she worked at the former Patrick Henry Bank, now Carter Bank & Trust. As a note teller at her operations site, she provided services to the loan department such as verifying applications and calculating interest.
Then she spent from 2003 to 2010 as controller of The Harvest Foundation, doing “any aspect of the foundation’s accounting” and working on “the budget side of grants.”
“I was lucky and got hired under the first executive director, Harry Cerino. He was amazing,” she said. “His vision for everything, especially education, was so unique.”
She visited the sites of groups to which Harvest had given grants. “It was really humbling to be able to see the great work they were doing. … There were some funny ones, and there were some sad ones. It was really nice. It was really from the heart.
It was Cerino who asked, “’Why don’t we have a university? Why isn’t there a place here locally where you can get a four year degree? ‘” — and then set out to make it happen, she said.
Nearly 20 years ago, he started the process to get local support for a university, then got state approval, she said, and “it turned into what NCI started like that.”
The Commonwealth decided on the structure of the NCI, she said: a triple purpose of offering academic degrees, non-credit courses and credentials. It would follow the format of higher education centers along Virginia’s southern border: the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, the Roanoke Higher Education Center, and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.
Dr. Leanna Blevins was the first employee of the NCI, soon joined by the first Executive Director, the late Dr. Barry Dorsey.
Dorsey “was primarily focused on degrees – bachelor’s and master’s,” she said. “He started to bring in partner institutions, established different types of diplomas based on the feedback received in the region.”
When former Senator William Wampler was executive director of the NCI (2012-2015), she said, “his vision was a new building to bring to downtown Martinsville” and “he overhauled the code,” making sure that the NCI offered workforce development programs in addition to college partnerships. These programs would qualify people for local jobs in areas such as welding, manufacturing and electrical.
Creating skilled workers to meet labor needs was also “to bring potential businesses here,” she said. “If we can train the workforce to meet the needs of this business, maybe they would locate here.”
Afterwards, Blevins served as executive director, from 2016 to 2019, and during her tenure the college board “had a few things they wanted to develop,” such as manufacturing and a possible engineering program.
Karen Jackson, who served as Acting Director from 2019 to June, “has embraced the vision not just locally but across the Commonwealth. … She really thought outside the box. … If the need was local, so much the better; otherwise it was a Commonwealth requirement.
Now that Reed is acting director, “I just get things done,” she said. This will include the development of a new “broadband initiative to train people who will install broadband equipment” and possibly the training of linemen.
The NCI is also now “heavily involved in a grant with the Claude Moore Foundation,” to provide training and support for health professions, Reed said.
Working for NCI “is more than just a job,” Reed said. “It’s an opportunity to be involved in bringing higher education opportunities locally that I didn’t have” during those years she drove an hour a day to and from Averett.
“The people I worked with” were the real highlights of her time at NCI, she said. “When you work closely with someone, they don’t just become your boss; they become your mentor. I’ve had great mentors over the years. Dr. Blevins was an amazing person, then Karen Jackson.
Seeing NCI move from a small downtown building to its own new building, “a massive effort,” was also gratifying, she said. That was Wampler’s vision, “and some were like, ‘There’s no way to do this in a year.’ William Wampler was like, ‘Yes, I can.’
Big things are about to happen with NCI, Reed said: “Our Board of Directors is extremely engaged. The makeup and expertise are phenomenal.
In the fall, the Board will have a strategic retreat, during which they will discuss “the vision or next step for NCI, and with that is [what they are looking for in] the next CEO. My main objective is to help the board of directors in the search for a general manager. »
The retreat “will include the [New College] Foundation and hopefully community partners,” she said.
Reed and her husband, Ricky Reed Jr., and their 9-year-old daughter, Temperance “Tempi” Reed, live in Ridgeway. Her stepson, Colin Martin, just completed a term with the Old Guard in Arlington, where he still lives.
Although Reed is an education administrator, she is also a student: she is studying for a master’s degree in business administration at Liberty University and only has four courses left before completing it.