Six community college leaders make Business NC’s Power List 2024, named most influential people in North Carolina

Business North Carolina announced its Power List 2024 at an evening reception in Raleigh on April 25. Four community college presidents and two members of the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges were among the 500 individuals named as the most influential people in North Carolina. 
Their inclusion on this prestigious list demonstrates the significant impact community college leaders have on shaping the educational landscape and driving economic development across the state.  
“This recognition shines a spotlight on the transformative power of leadership within both community colleges and the State Board in driving success for students and employers,” said NC Community Colleges State Board Chair Tom Looney. “It underscores the vital role of collaboration between educational institutions and the business sector, illustrating how these partnerships can produce truly remarkable results.”
The six individuals below are recognized for making a noteworthy impact in the last year:

  • Dr. Scott Ralls, President of Wake Technical Community College 
  • Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, President of Central Piedmont Community College 
  • Dr. Laura Leatherwood, President of Blue Ridge Community College 
  • Dr. John Hauser, President of Gaston College 
  • Chairman Tom Looney and John Kane, State Board Members 

“I couldn’t be prouder to have four of our fantastic local presidents—Dr. Scott Ralls, Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Dr. Laura Leatherwood, Dr. John Hauser — and two state board members, Chairman Tom Looney, and John Kane, all making Business NC’s list of most influential leaders across our great state. This underscores the tremendous value our community colleges are making across North Carolina,” said System President, Dr. Jeff Cox.  

Dr. Scott Ralls

Dr. Scott Ralls, renowned for his innovative leadership at Wake Technical Community College, has spearheaded initiatives that bridge the gap between education and workforce needs, ensuring students are equipped with the skills necessary to thrive in today’s competitive job market. He is the leader of North Carolina’s largest community college and former president of the North Carolina Community College System. Ralls is focused on delivering trained workers in industries suffering labor shortages, while also assisting emerging employers.  

Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer

Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, President of Central Piedmont Community College, has been instrumental in fostering partnerships with local industries, facilitating workforce training programs that address the evolving needs of employers and empower students to achieve their career aspirations. She has led Central Piedmont, the second largest community college in the state, since 2017. Deitemeyer has made a major push in workforce development, including the first training program with Tesla to train mechanics. 

Dr. Laura Leatherwood

Dr. Laura Leatherwood, President of Blue Ridge Community College, has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to expanding access to quality education in rural areas, empowering individuals to pursue higher education and contribute meaningfully to their communities. Leatherwood was named President of the Year in 2022 and has led Blue Ridge since 2017. The College had a record 329 curriculum graduates at commencement in May 2023, and each of its most recent nursing graduates passed the national licensure exam.  

Dr. John Hauser

Dr. John Hauser, President of Gaston College, has been a driving force behind initiatives aimed at promoting student success and enhancing educational opportunities for underserved populations, ensuring that all students have the support they need to achieve their academic and professional goals. Hauser became president of Gaston in 2020 after leading Carteret Community College. Last year, he helped secure a $60 million state budget grant for health care training programs. 

Chairman Tom Looney and John Kane, esteemed members of the State Board, have played pivotal roles in shaping policies that promote excellence within the community college system, advocating for increased funding and resources to support student success and institutional effectiveness. 

Tom Looney

Tom Looney became chair of the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges in July 2023, bringing extensive business and education experience to the position. He chaired the Wake Technical Community College and North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics boards for a combined six years. He’s a former senior IBM and Lenovo executive and a director of the N.C. Coastal Federation. 
John Kane is Raleigh’s best-known developer and recently retitled himself founder and chair of Kane Realty, a company he started nearly 50 years ago. In November, he was sworn in as a new member of the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges.  

John Kane

This is the fourth year Business NC has curated a Power List of individuals who wield significant influence in business and civic spheres. All individuals were nominated by the public. John Kane was recognized under the Real Estate and Construction category while the other five individuals were recognized under the Education category. 

Their collective dedication to advancing the mission of community colleges as engines of social mobility and economic prosperity will leave an indelible mark on the future of North Carolina. 
View the full Power List 2024 here. 

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