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Retirement Brings Tears As Well As Joy for Two Key HERDI Board Chairpersons

HERDI President and CEO, Toni Cleveland, said goodbye to two long term Advisory Board members at the HERDI spring banquet in Dallas in April. Both have served as HERDI Advisory Board chairs during their long service. Here is a summary of her words:

Mick Starecevich: His name Is synonymous with love of family, and that family goes beyond the love of his life—his wife of 47 years, Linda—but includes his college, his community, the HERDI family, and most importantly, his students. According to his Administrative Assistant,”… he has truly been a President for the students.”

Mick has had so many accomplishments for Kirkwood Community College (Des Moines, IA) , but a few recent ones stand out: Kirkwood debuted a teaching hotel on campus in 2010 offering 71 rooms and opportunities for students to get training in hospitality, customer service and culinary arts. (It currently stands among hotels with the highest rating in Iowa.)

Kirkwood commissioned a 407 foot-tall wind turbine and solar panels on campus that in 2012 began generating power, saving nearly $400,000 a year in energy costs and providing training for students.

With the help of taxpayers, Kirkwood partnered with area K-12 school districts in making college and training more accessible and affordable for students in and urban populations.

Since 2005, Kirkwood has seen its total dollar amount for student scholarships jump from $740,000 a year to $3.1 million annually.

There are so many more accomplishments, but I will remember Mick for his tireless role in HERDI. He joined the HERDI board in 2005 and during that tenure missed only one meeting. Always willing to serve as a panel chair, he also served as our Advisory Board Chair for several years until last fall.

I will think of Mick as a colleague, but more importantly as a friend. Please wish Mick and Linda the best for a happy and healthy retirement.

Ann McGee has also had an extraordinary career. When I asked her office manager for some background, several words kept being repeated: Professional, Ethics, Integrity, Commitment to students, and a knack for remembering everyone’s name.

Ann is a Community College grad. She began her career as an English and speech teacher and then moved to administration, and the rest is history. She became president in 1996.

Ann’s passion is in seeing students succeed! She has transformed her institution from one campus to four, now serving 30,000 students annually.

She believes in partnerships. One of these is with University of Central Florida that enabled Seminole State College to rank 16th in the nation for AA graduates among 1200 community colleges.

She has served on numerous boards and has received many awards, including “Woman of the Decade “ award in Orange County; “Hispanic Leader of the Year” from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and the United Negro College Fund presented her their first “Champion of Education Award”.

Perhaps one of the most significant honors was the recent dedication of the E. Ann McGee Student Center, a multi-million facility named for her.

But of special note is the close personal relationship I have had with Ann. We’ve travelled together, partied together and laughed together often. We both served on the first HERDI board in the year 2000. Ann is the last founding member to retire, after years of tireless service to HERDI and we thank her greatly for her service.

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