San Diego Continuing Education Leader Selected for Aspen’s National Fellowship for Aspiring Community College Presidents

Star Rivera-Lacey, Ph.D. has been named a 2020-21 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellow

Star Rivera-Lacey, Ph.D., San Diego Continuing Education’s (SDCE’s) Vice President of Student Services has been named a 2020-21 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellow. Each year, the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program selects the top 40 advocates from around the country, who significantly improve student learning, completion, and employment after college-especially for the growing number of students of color and low-income populations across American campuses.

“It is an honor to be associated with such a prestigious organization,” said Dr. Rivera-Lacey. “Aspen Presidential Fellows are chosen based on the belief that they will one day be exceptional presidents committed to and capable of transforming community colleges to advance student success. I am truly humbled to be recognized in that way.”

She will join her peers and embark on a 10-month fellowship beginning July 2020. The residential sessions will be facilitated by community college leaders, practitioners, and experts, as well as Stanford University faculty and in April 2021, Dr. Rivera-Lacey will present a capstone project that will capture her perspective on community college leadership and her unique vision and ability to lead transformational change.

SDCE is one of California’s largest noncredit adult education institutions and is the center of a comprehensive noncredit education program serving approximately 40,000 students, many of whom complete high school equivalencies; study and improve basic skills such as English or math, and attend free career training classes that lead to certificates of completion in more than 70 industry areas including healthcare careers, welding and business.

SDCE specializes in offering support and guidance beyond the classroom to help San Diego’s most vulnerable populations succeed in higher education and in the workforce. Dr. Rivera-Lacey was appointed the school’s first Vice President of Student Services in July 2016. Through her leadership, development, implementation, and evaluation, SDCE has increased access to and enrollment in its career training certificates and targeted student support programs.

“The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is one of the highest levels of recognition an academic leader can receive,” said SDCE President, Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D. “We at SDCE are proud of Dr. Rivera-Lacey and look forward to implementing the tools she learns through Aspen at our institution.”

Raised locally in Oceanside, Dr. Rivera-Lacey is proud to have started her post-secondary education at MiraCosta community college. She received a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, San Marcos, and earned a master’s degree in Education, with an emphasis in multicultural counseling (Community Based Block) from San Diego State University. Dr. Rivera-Lacey also earned a Ph.D. in Education from the San Diego State/Claremont Graduate University joint doctoral program.

For more information on San Diego Continuing Education visit: