Gates Foundation Director Recognized for Impact on Community Colleges

Apr 17, 2012, 11:00 ET from American Association of Community Colleges

Hilary C. Pennington to receive the Harry S. Truman Award for her outstanding leadership 

ORLANDO, Fla., April 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hilary C. Pennington, Director for U.S. Education– Postsecondary Success and Special Initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will receive the Harry S. Truman Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) during the 92nd AACC Annual Convention.  This year's convention will be held April 21–24 at the Orlando World Center Marriott and Resort.

"For nearly 30 years, Hilary Pennington has worked tirelessly to promote and provide educational opportunities —often for the under-privileged and underserved," said Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC. "She is a passionate advocate for community colleges and oversees programs that are substantially impacting how we do business and set priorities in higher education."

Pennington represents the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation nationally on issues of higher education innovation and improvement. 

Over the last four years, Pennington has led the foundation's Postsecondary Success initiative, which has made completion of postsecondary education a national priority. The initiative's team administers a $110 million annual grant program. Pennington and her staff have paid special attention to the opportunities and challenges facing America's community colleges in raising student completion rates.

In 2010, she assumed responsibility for the U.S. Libraries Program at the foundation, which helps libraries provide free computer and internet access to millions of low-income people who do not have home computers. The program awards $7 million in grants annually.

Pennington assumed responsibility for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, a 10-year and $1 billion investment supporting undergraduate and graduate education for 20,000 high-achieving and low-income students of color.

In 2006, she led a foundation effort to build a national program promoting secondary access and success for low-income and minority youth. She continues to lead that program today, and it awards $5 million in grants annually.

Prior to joining the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pennington was the co-founder, president and CEO of Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit organization helping states and national organizations understand the rapidly-changing education and skill requirements of a globally-focused economy and develop the policies and strategies to equip their citizens with skills for success in this new economy.

Pennington will receive the Truman Award during the AACC convention opening session, April 21, which will be held from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. in the Palms Ballroom of the Marriott center.

The Harry S. Truman Award is given to someone who has had a major positive impact on community colleges at a national level. The award is named for President Truman who commissioned a study on higher education in 1947, and is where the term "community college" first began to be used widely. The idea of community colleges appealed to the President, and his administration created mechanisms to foster the growth of a national network of community colleges. 

Previous recipients of the Truman Award have included Martha J. Kanter, U.S. Department of Education (2011), the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (2008), the Coca Cola Company (2006) and U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (2005). A full list of recipients is available online at 

This year's AACC Convention, "21st Century Vision – Igniting Innovation," includes a variety of workshops on topics such as optimizing student success and completion, creating a green campus and "igniting" donors.  An outstanding speaker lineup includes Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC, as well as husband and wife political commentators Mary Matalin and James Carville.  For a complete schedule of events visit:

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is a national organization representing the nation's almost 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges and their more than 13 million students. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing segment of higher education, currently enrolling close to half of all U.S. undergraduates. For more information, go to

SOURCE American Association of Community Colleges