The Business Voice: While at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, you oversaw the downtown campus move from Sibley Square to its $78 million home on State Street, launched the school’s nationally recognized LadderzUp job training initiative, and just recently began work to build a Workforce Development Center. Bearing in mind that you don’t begin your tenure at NOVA until January 6, what plans and initiatives are you considering for the school?

Dr. Anne Kress: NOVA is committed to assuring that every student succeeds, every program achieves, and every community prospers. Certainly, growing our workforce partnerships — such as those with companies like Amazon, Micron, and Inova — are central to NOVA’s future and to the future of our region and students. Our ability to attract adult students to these cutting-edge career pathways will be critical, and I am excited about the opportunity to offer services and programs that enable adults to begin or return to college. The ADVANCE partnership between NOVA and George Mason University is a national model for bridging students from their two- to four-year degrees — and its success is just beginning. This impactful collaboration is empowering the full diversity of our community to earn baccalaureate degrees right in their own backyard; expanding it is a key goal. On top of that, I really want to spend some time listening: to Northern Virginia residents and leaders, to our business and industry leaders, and to our impressive and inspiring NOVA community. Learning from them will help me make sure NOVA continues to be bold and transformational in a region that is rich with employment opportunities and changing every day.

TBV: Your reputation for cultivating community partnerships is stellar. How will you use those skills and whom will you seek to partner with to address the workforce challenges facing students at NOVA?

Dr. K.: NOVA has a great workforce division and impactful business partnerships that have helped our college begin to close the regional skills gap, especially in information technology and health care. I have already met with some of our region’s leaders in business, K12, and community agencies whose collaboration with NOVA helps us strengthen the workforce pipeline and build demand-driven programs. Real success takes listening to and understanding workforce needs at a practical level that drives action. I look forward to expanding this circle of collaboration with partners from more industry sectors that are essential to our region’s growth, including financial services and the trades. As always, NOVA will lead the way as a strategic asset for growing our regional economy, helping to fill jobs for our employers, and offering paths to family-supporting careers for our students.

TBV: What role do you envision the regional business community playing in NOVA’s development, and how can local business leaders help you be successful?  

Dr. K.: Growing career pathways takes shared investment in programs, equipment, and students. The most in-demand programs from a business perspective are among the most expensive for NOVA to offer, so that takes support from regional businesses. In turn, these same programs bring the most significant return to employers, future-employees, and our region—so it really is a virtual circle. Businesses can also partner with NOVA to create more on-ramps for student work-based learning, from high school dual enrollment to apprenticeships and internships. Industry leaders can also help NOVA keep our eyes on the horizon—looking at the implications of Industry 4.0 on our programs, at the need for new programs or new delivery alternatives, at our curriculum and faculty professional development. The best partnerships have lasting impact because they go far beyond the press event: They are transformational for the businesses, NOVA, our students, and our region.

TBV: You joined Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida, as an adjunct instructor of English, became a department chair in 1998, an associate vice president in 2002, and provost and vice president for Academic Affairs in 2005. To what do you attribute your meteoric rise and what do you feel was your greatest accomplishment while at the school?

Dr. K.: Meteoric seems an overstatement. I was lucky enough to have incredible mentors and great colleagues who saw something in me (that I often didn’t see myself) and supported my growth at every turn. As a result, I’m very committed to mentoring and leadership development and will look to continue this at NOVA. At Santa Fe, I led a transformational project that built online orientation, advisement, and registration tools and the college’s first data warehouse.  These fueled a cross-college effort that increased student retention, persistence, and degree attainment. It was powerful to see how high tech could support the hard work of faculty and staff in driving student success.


TBV: You hold a master’s and bachelor’s degree in English. Do you have a favorite writer and if so, who and why? 

Dr. K.: Wow—this is a very hard question to answer!  Lauren Groff, Allegra Goodman, Min Jin Lee, and Helen Oyeyemi are among my favorite contemporary novelists. While quite different from each other, their writing is equally gorgeous and poetic; they tell very human stories through images that refuse to leave you. And, I cannot wait for the third book in Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy!

TBV: What do you do in your off time for fun? 

Dr. K.: I love to cook … and eat!  So, I’ve been asking everyone for restaurant recommendations. I’ve been a quilter for decades; sitting at my sewing machine or doing handwork is incredibly relaxing and a great way to build mindfulness into a busy week.  And, I love to travel with my family.

TBV: What are you most looking forward to about your move to Northern Virginia?

Dr. K.: Is it wrong to say everything? First and foremost, I look forward to working with the inspiring students, faculty, and staff at NOVA. And, I am so excited to get to know my new home. I have a growing list of recommendations from the NOVA community and can’t wait to start exploring all that Northern Virginia has to offer (except the traffic!).

Photos & Captions 

IMG Family Photo:

Dr. Anne Kress with, from left, daughter Harper, husband Ned Davis, and son, Penn.


IMG: Dr. Kress surrounded by students

Dr. Anne Kress and NOVA students at the NOVA Foundation 40th anniversary annual recognition dinner.


IMG:  DSC 9811

Jim Dyke, former Virginia Secretary of Education, Eleanor Saslaw, and Dick Saslaw, Virginia Senate Majority Leader, celebrate with Dr. Anne Kress at the NOVA Foundation 40th anniversary annual recognition dinner. 


IMG: DSC 9796 

Dr. Anne Kress and April Brisky, embryologist and former NOVA student.


IMG: Belle Whelan, Corrine Hurst, Dr Glover and Dr Kress 

Dr. Belle Whelan, former NOVA President and Virginia Secretary of Education; Corrine Hurst, Executive Project Manager, NOVA; Dr. Frances Villagran-Glover, Vice President, Student Services, NOVA; Dr. Anne Kress, President, NOVA; and Dr. Nicole Reaves, Provost, Medical Education Campus, NOVA.

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