Achieving the Dream President and CEO Dr. William Trueheart to Retire

Media Contact:
Lynn Reddy, (301) 520-9940,



Silver Spring, MD (November 5, 2014) – Today Dr. Robert Templin, Jr., Chair of the Achieving the Dream, Inc. Board of Directors and President of Northern Virginia Community College, and Dr. William E. Trueheart, founding President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., announced Trueheart's decision to retire from the national community college reform organization he has led since it became an independent nonprofit in 2010. He will continue to serve as President and CEO until the Board names a successor.

“Serving as President of Achieving the Dream has been the culmination of a lifetime of work to help students achieve their academic goals,” said Trueheart. “It has been an extraordinary privilege to lead an organization with so many colleges and partners all committed to student access and success. I have accomplished virtually everything I set out to do at Achieving the Dream, so it’s the right time to welcome new leadership to the organization.”

Trueheart, the Achieving the Dream Board, and key staff – with substantial input from thought leaders throughout the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network – recently completed a comprehensive planning process that established the organization’s five strategic directions through 2019. The priorities build on Achieving the Dream’s strengths in guiding institutional change, developing colleges’ capacities to use data to inform decision-making, and forging strategic partnerships. The strategic priorities will be the new engines of focused emphasis on teaching and learning and influencing policy and practice through knowledge dissemination and thought leadership. The new strategic plan positions the organization to enable community colleges to develop a competitive workforce for the global economy, to offer more opportunities for students to earn employer-valued college credentials, and to support a more economically and socially equitable society.

"This is a bittersweet moment for Achieving the Dream,” Templin said. “We applaud and congratulate Bill on his remarkable leadership of this organization in its inaugural phase. His commitment and unwavering focus on fulfilling the promise of community colleges in our country have positioned Achieving the Dream to move into the future energetically and confidently to achieve that mission."

Trueheart, who was actively involved in philanthropic support of the Achieving the Dream initiative as Director of the Nellie Mae Foundation in New England, assumed the presidency in 2010 after the Lumina Foundation’s substantial investment in Achieving the Dream. In 2010, 102 institutions comprised the Achieving the Dream Network. Subsequently, it has grown to more than 200 community colleges throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia serving over 3.8 million students. Trueheart and the Achieving the Dream team simultaneously recruited an exceptional board of directors and hired outstanding staff.

“Millions more students of color, low-income students, immigrants, and first-generation college students could be and should be earning credentials that will enable them to advance and responsibly contribute to our society,” Trueheart said. “That knowledge and belief has motivated me throughout my life and compelled me to the presidency of Achieving the Dream.”

Under Trueheart’s leadership, Achieving the Dream has achieved many milestones.


  • Seventy-nine active Achieving the Dream colleges have earned Leader College status, a designation created to recognize the achievements of high-performing institutions. This designation is now broadly recognized by media, policymakers, college presidents, and funders.
  • Fifteen state policy teams – ten more than existed in 2004 – are focusing on supporting innovation, spreading effective practice and reducing barriers to student success in the areas of developmental education, structured pathways, workforce development, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
  • Learning richly from the work of the National Reform Network and its partners, Achieving the Dream, Inc. has developed strategic directions for 2014-2019 to broaden impact and accelerate improvements in Achieving the Dream colleges. The priorities include:
    • A model of institutional change that encourages colleges to take on new challenges as soon as they have achieved designated milestones.
    • Coaching for college leaders that addresses effective change management and introduces successful leadership practices from a variety of disciplines.
    • Opportunities for advanced colleges to collaborate in identifying next-generation challenges and exploring solutions.
    • Immediate, sustained attention to engaging faculty in improving instruction and redesigning curricula across the student experience.
    • Deepening colleges’ ability to collect, analyze, and present data on essential student outcomes as well as institutional change processes.
    • A stronger national voice on behalf of community colleges in state and national higher education legislative and policy councils.
  • Achieving the Dream has committed to making teaching and learning a strategic priority by:
    • Holding its inaugural College Readiness Institute to focus on strengthening community college students’ academic preparedness.
    • Partnering with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Jobs for the Future to form the Breakthrough Collaborative involving over 50 colleges focused on the goal of helping students complete their remedial mathematics and first college-level mathematics courses within one year.
    • Recognizing that reforming developmental education is both a pressing equity issue and a matter of national competitiveness, and continuing to press for solutions based on evidence and testing at scale.
  • Achieving the Dream has strengthened its role in national policy, establishing a close relationship with the White House Domestic Policy Council that enabled Achieving the Dream and selected college presidents to contribute to two White House college readiness summits in 2014.
  • Achieving the Dream has expanded its role in workforce development, by managing or participating in three U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants and serving as national intermediary for the community college expansion of the Working Families Success Network strategy, an innovative approach that includes financial coaching and connection to work supports, such as public benefits and financial aid, to help low-income families balance work, family, and educational/vocational aspirations.
  • Achieving the Dream has joined Jobs for the Future in an effort to strengthen high-demand, middle-skill STEM pathways; improve regional coordination among community colleges and their workforce partners; inform state leaders on policy changes that can support stronger STEM pathways; and foster cross-state learning and collaboration.
  • Achieving the Dream and the Aspen Institute produced the Crisis and Opportunity report to address the impending wave of community college presidents’ retirements. Achieving the Dream, in collaboration with the Aspen Institute also held two leadership retreats with select community college presidents to confront critical leadership challenges.

Trueheart is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of The Pittsburgh Foundation. Before joining The Pittsburgh Foundation, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Reading Is Fundamental, Inc., America’s oldest and largest children’s and family literacy organization.

Prior to that, he was President of Bryant University (formerly Bryant College) in Rhode Island, and the first African-American to head a four-year private college in New England. He also served Bryant University as Executive Vice President and member of its Board of Trustees. He was Associate Secretary of Harvard University in its Office of Governing Boards and served as Assistant Dean and Director of the Master in Public Administration Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Trueheart will continue service as a Director on the Board of the Association of Governing Boards. He will also continue to serve as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Governance Committee for the Commonfund, Inc. and Chair of the Academic Committee on the Board of Trustees of Johnson and Wales University. Trueheart also will continue to serve on the Visiting Committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Connecticut.

Trueheart earned his BA degree in political science and economics at the University of Connecticut, his MPA at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Ed.D. at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. His honorary degrees include a Ph.D. in Humane Letters from Bryant University, a Ph.D. in Education from Bridgewater State College, a DBA from Johnson and Wales University, and an Associate Degree of Letters from Montgomery County Community College.

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 300 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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