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5 Local Black Leaders Who Are Shaping the Future of Arizona: Rufus Glasper

Welcome back to our salute to some of Arizona’s black leaders who are creating positive change in the state and beyond. If you missed it, check out our last post about Resilient Me founder Naketa Ross.

This post focuses on one of the most influential figures of Arizona’s higher education system. For over 10 years, Rufus Glasper successfully ran the Maricopa County Community College system, one of the largest of its kind in the country.

It can’t be easy to organize one of the largest community college systems in the country, but somehow Rufus Glasper found a way to do it—and do it well. In 2003, Glasper served as the Chancellor of Maricopa County Community Colleges with a mission to embrace emerging technology and leverage job-training opportunities throughout the school system.

Glasper worked his way up, starting as the Director of Finance after serving as Department Director of Financial Planning and Budgeting for the Chicago Public School system. His job as Chancellor involved aligning the ten colleges and their learning centers. During his tenure, Glasper oversaw an effort by state schools to develop new pathways to help students transfer from community colleges after two years.

Glasper also served as Chairman of the Board for Black Family Child Services and held board seats for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, The Valley of the Sun United Way, and The Arizona Community Foundation. Glasper is a longtime member of the NAACP and was awarded their Roy Wilkins Award for his leadership and involvement. From 2005 to 2009, Glasper also served as co-chair of the P-20 Council alongside former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.

In 2015, Glasper announced his retirement from the Maricopa Community College system in order to take a position as CEO and President of the League for Innovation in the Community College. The international nonprofit hosts conferences and develops resources for the community college movement. The League works with 800 member institutions from nine countries and includes over 160 corporate partners with the purpose of improving student learning through innovation, experimentation, and the transforming of educational institutions.

Glasper is yet another leader who was able to make a huge impact on his community. He worked his way up to the top and used his position to establish positive change for Arizona’s higher education system. His success derived from hard work, but also his extensive network of partners, who shared a common purpose to deliver high-quality education to Arizona and the entire U.S.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our series of black leaders shaping the future of Arizona. And don’t forget to check out the last installment.

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