Montgomery County Women's History Archive:
40 Women of Historical Significance in Montgomery County
DeRionne P. Pollard was born in Chicago, Illinois, where her family instilled an early love of learning. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in 1993, a M.A. degree in English from Iowa State University in 1995, and a Ph.D. from Loyola University in 2005.
Her career in education began at the College of Lake County (Ill.), where she was an assistant professor of English (1995–2000). She went on to serve as acting division dean of the Communication Arts, Humanities, and Fine Arts Division (2000), faculty coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (1997–2000, 2000–2001), assistant vice president of educational affairs (2002– 2005), and, ultimately, vice president of educational affairs (2005– 2008). Pollard next served as administrative and instructional president (2008–2010) of Las Positas College in Livermore, California.
In August 2010, Pollard assumed leadership of Montgomery College, following a national search conducted by the College’s Board of Trustees. She became the first African American woman president of the College.
Montgomery College is the largest community college in Maryland, serving Montgomery County for more than 60 years. Over that time, Montgomery College has earned a reputation as one of the most relevant community colleges in the nation for the quality and scope of academic programs in the liberal arts, sciences, business, and technology. The College offers more than 130 degree and certificate programs for students who wish to pursue an associate’s degree, transfer to a four-year college or university, enter into the job market, or upgrade career skills. The College has three campuses at Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, and satellite facilities for Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs throughout Montgomery County.
At Montgomery College, Pollard spearheaded a number of initiatives focused on making the College even more relevant to the needs of the community in today’s innovation economy. Under her direction, the College created new mission, vision, and core values statements; overhauled the College’s governance system to create one that is inclusive and participatory; launched the Montgomery College Innovation Fund to inspire faculty and staff to develop new ideas for educating students; and developed and strengthened partnerships with government, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other educational institutions, including those local and around the world! Since her arrival, the College has opened a new Sciences Center on the Rockville Campus, and broke ground for future infrastructure projects, including a Science Center on the Rockville Campus, and the Bioscience Education Center and a life sciences park on the Germantown Campus, which will be home to the Holy Cross Germantown Hospital.
Pollard serves on commissions at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and she represents AACC on the Washington Higher Education Secretariat’s Working Group on Persistence and Completion. She is also a member of the College Board’s Community College Advisory Panel, the Presidents’ Round Table of the National Council of Black American Affairs, as well as a member of the Advisory Board for O.P. Jindal Community College (India). In addition, she served on the steering committee for the White House Hispanic Community Action Summit held in Montgomery County.
A 2012 graduate of Leadership Montgomery, Pollard serves on several boards, including Maryland Campus Compact, Montgomery County Business Development Corporation, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Universities of Shady Grove, the Tech Council of Maryland, and IMPACT Silver Spring. She is a member of the board at Strathmore, an arts center in North Bethesda, and she has joined other area women leaders as a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Women’s Leadership Forum.
Pollard is a frequent speaker with a deep-rooted commitment to teaching and learning, equity and access, and professional development. Her awards and honors include Washingtonian’s 100 Most Powerful Women, 25 CEOs You Need to Know from The Gazette of Politics and Business, East Bay Woman of Distinction Award, the Outstanding Young Alumna Award from Iowa State University, the YWCA Woman of Achievement, and the Most Inﬂ uential African American of Lake County (Chairman’s Award).