top of page



HERDI – Higher Education Research and Development Institute was born in 2000 as a concept created and lead by Dr. Michael Kneale.  In 2007, when Mike decided his health would prevent him from continuing his leadership role, he realized he must find a person who could build on its success. At that time Dr. Toni Cleveland, who had been one of Mike’s board members since the inception of HERDI, took over the growing business. With her husband Don Lee, Toni manages all aspects of HERDI from their office in Richmond VA.

Toni Cleveland has devoted her career to the Community College sector where she has served as a faculty member, Dean, Vice-President, Interim President of Rockland County Community College (NY), President of Niagara County Community College (NY) and as Vice-Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.

Dr. Cleveland’s undergraduate and master’s degrees are from Cortland College in New York and she received her doctorate from Syracuse University (NY), while carrying on the normal duties of a mother of four. Don Lee retired from a successful career in marketing and general management with Procter & Gamble and now supports Toni’s development of the HERDI marketing concept.

Toni’s passion for the value of higher education can be seen in the Mission of HERDI: “To provide better products and services for students, faculty and staff of America’s Colleges by facilitating frank and critical dialogue between College leaders (presidents and chancellors) and the business community that seeks to serve them.”

During May of 2023, the HERDI Team discussed the ongoing requests for adding a HERDI West arm to the organization. Ding-Jo Currie and Pam Walker were appointed Executive Directors and have recruited over 50 Presidents and Chancellors of community colleges in seven Western states (CA,WA,OR, AZ, NE, NM, and HI).  HERDI West Board members will meet virtually in July 2023 and then bi-annually preceding the Community College League of CA annual conference (November 2023) and the League for Innovation in the Community College conference (March 2024). 

bottom of page