Meet Dr. Shannon Kennedy

President Shannon L. Kennedy, PhD

Dr. Shannon Kennedy

Dr. Shannon Kennedy

Dr. Shannon Kennedy takes over as Rappahannock Community College’s fourth president, July 1, 2019, succeeding Dr. Elizabeth Hinton Crowther, who retired after 15 years of service.

Dr. Kennedy served as Executive Vice President at Cleveland Community College, in Shelby, North Carolina. She had been with the College for nearly 19 years. Prior to Cleveland Community College, Dr. Kennedy worked at Gardner-Webb University, the Uptown Shelby Association, and Shelby Headline News.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Millersville University in Pennsylvania, a Master of Arts in English Education from Gardner-Webb University, and a Doctor of Education degree in Adult and Community College Education from North Carolina State University.

In 2011, Dr. Kennedy was honored with the Athena Award, which recognizes women for leadership and community service. She has also received both the H. Eugene LeGrand Lifetime Achievement Award and the JT Scruggs Volunteer of the Year Award from the United Way; she received the Distinguished Woman Award from the Cleveland County Commission for Women; and, the Distinguished Rotarian Award.

Dr. Kennedy is married to Larry and they have three sons. She is the quintessential soccer mom, as all three children have played competitive soccer requiring travel all over the Southeast. Her two oldest sons, now adults, played Division I college soccer. Dr. Kennedy was also a college athlete, playing lacrosse for the Millersville Lady Marauders. When not traveling with children, she enjoys cooking, reading, and outdoor activities.

Shannon Kennedy’s Leadership Philosophy Statement

My leadership philosophy most closely aligns with the definition of servant leadership. According to Greenleaf, “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid,’ servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”

I believe it is the responsibility of the community college president to empower others and give them the tools they need to succeed. I understand the power of listening, thoughtfully considering ideas, and compromising. While I can be decisive when necessary, I like to take the time to reflect on the consequences of a decision thoroughly before moving forward. Decisions should be made with input from those that are impacted, when this is feasible. I believe in working closely with the local school system, other higher education institutions, and industry in order to create and grow programs. Outside funding from granting agencies and private gifts from donors are critically important to sustain and grow. I have significant fundraising experience and I believe that the president should be actively involved in fundraising for the college.

I believe that communication is critical for any leader. Individuals may not like a decision that has been made, but if the individual understands why the decision was made, he or she may more quickly accept it.

Community colleges are the most nimble higher education institutions and can adapt to the community’s needs. In order to meet the ever-changing needs of the community and business and industry, the community college must be ready to adapt and change. 

Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with Harry S Truman when he said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.” Those who accomplish great things should be recognized and a good leader gives the credit to the team. Building a solid team is extremely important.