Clark College Leadership
Clark College President
Dr. Karin Edwards, President
Dr. Karin Edwards is currently President of the Clark College, where she is responsible for providing vision and strategic direction for the college. As the chief executive officer, she has oversight for all programmatic, instructional, financial and student support services. Dr. Edwards is very active in community outreach and engagement, and workforce development. She plays a critical role in creating promising pathways for students and ensuring equitable student success. Before arriving in Portland in 2014, Dr. Edwards worked in the Connecticut and New York State Community College systems.
She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Education Administration both from the State University of New York at Albany. She also earned a doctorate in Education Leadership from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Edwards has over 35 years of experience in higher education administration and has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the mission of community colleges, which has three primary areas of focus. Community colleges provide access to quality education and training, promote economic and community development, and respond to local and regional workforce needs. Equity is also inherent in the mission of community colleges. Dr. Edwards has championed diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout her career.
Karin is a native New Yorker, born and raised in the South Bronx. For leisure, she enjoys reading, attending cultural events, exploring the Pacific Northwest, and dining out at the fantastic restaurants. She also enjoys giving back to her community by serving on various boards.
As a long-time educator, she has witnessed the transformational power that community colleges have in the lives of students and in the communities they serve.
Clark College Executive Cabinet
Galina Burley, Executive Vice President of Operations
Galina Burley (pronouns: she/her/hers) immigrated to Vancouver, Washington from Sochi, Russia with her parents in 1991. Her history at Clark College began soon afterward, when she began taking English as a Second Language classes and then went on to earn her associate degree. Burley also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Concordia University and a Master of Public Administration from Troy University. In addition, she earned certification in High Performing Organizations from the University of Virginia and is a 2012 alumna of Leadership Clark County.
Burley’s previous work experience includes leadership roles at the City of Norfolk, Clackamas County, and the City of Portland. Most recently before joining Clark College, she served as Clark County Parks and Lands Manager. She has received an award for leadership from the American Association of Public Administrators of Hampton Roads; the Golden Ivan Award for her work with the Slavic refugee communities in Oregon and Southwest Washington; the President’s Recognition Award from the Crime Prevention Association of Oregon; and nomination as a Woman of Achievement by Washington State University Vancouver. Burley identifies as Armenian-Russian-American. In her free time, she enjoys reading, volunteering, and spending time with her family.
Dr. Michele Cruse, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs
Dr. Michele Cruse is the Interim Vice President of Student Affairs at Clark College. Dr. Cruse started her academic journey by earning an associate degree from Community College of Allegheny County, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She earned her bachelor's and master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, and Portland State University, and PhD in Community College Leadership from Oregon State University. Dr. Cruse feels that her role is to foster an environment where students feel valued, respected, and that they belong here at Clark as well as ensuring that students have meaningful and inclusive experiences while pursuing thier academic goals.
Dr. Genevieve Howard, Interim Vice President of Instruction
Brad Avakian, Vice President of Human Resources
Brad Avakian earned his bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University and his doctorate of law from Lewis & Clark University. For many years he worked as a lawyer specializing in civil rights cases. Later, he served in the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate representing parts of northeast Washington County.
Avakian also served three terms as Oregon’s Commissioner of Labor and Industries, during which time he was a strong advocate for career and technical education programs, as well as for equity for women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Since leaving public service, Avakian has taught Politics and Public Policy for Managers in Willamette University’s MBA program and worked in private practice as a mediator and arbitrator.
Valerie Moreno, Chief Information Officer
Valerie Moreno is Clark College's first full-time Chief Information Officer and brings more than 30 years of IT leadership to the college. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Network and Communication Management from DeVry University as well as several professional certifications, including certificates in Incident Command, Project Management, and ITIL.
Prior to Clark, Moreno was the Director of Information Technology at Portland Community College. In that role, she was responsible for overseeing PCC’s network engineering, server administration, private cloud services, information security, NOC, data center, and voice teams supporting more than 87,000 faculty, staff, and students. She was responsible for daily operational oversight as well as for helping to create information-security policies and providing strategic direction for the college.
Moreno’s other previous work experience includes Northwestern University in Chicago, AT&T, and QWEST Communications, among others. In the community, Moreno serves on the board of directors for Centro Cultural, a nonprofit serving the Latino community of Portland. She also has served on the board of several Chicago-based organizations, including Chicago Women in Trades and Girls in the Game, a nonprofit sports and leadership program. She was named Mentor of the Year by the Youth Job Center of the nonprofit Women Invested in Learning and Livelihoods (WILL).
Rashida Willard, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Rashida Willard is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Clark College. Throughout her career, she has been able to develop and oversee initiatives that help promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
With twenty years’ experience in risk mitigation, she consistently brings an equity framework to her management and leadership style as well as her daily interactions. In 2011, as a part of the founding DEI team at The Standard, she identified and launched programs for new employees of color, developed strategies to retain qualified employees and worked to create an effective networking channel strategically aligned to The Standard’s diversity and inclusion goals. These efforts included: equity consultation with all levels of the organization, events, training, awareness and communication around diversity, equity and inclusion.
At Clark College, Rashida is committed to creating culturally engaging spaces for systemically non-dominant employees and students, as well as encouraging development for all people across the learning continuum. In the community, she is a strong advocate for historically underserved populations.
Rashida was a participant and graduate of Social Justice Leadership Institute for the Washington State Community College System for 2017-2018 and was nominated as a Real Hero for the Learn Here Project in 2018. She is also a part of the Vancouver Police Chief’s Diversity Advisory Team.
Rashida holds a Master’s in Business Administration, a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and an Associate in Organizational Dynamics. She is currently attending Concordia University, pursuing a Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Professional Leadership, Inquiry and Transformation. Her current research explores how the campus racial climate affects students of color attending predominantly white institutions and their persistence and completion rates. This research will be used to examine and identify strategies to close the equity gap among students of color in higher education.