Dr. Jill Wakefield is a visionary leader recognized for developing strategic partnerships and innovative solutions and for the depth
of her experience in higher education. She became chancellor of the Seattle College District in January 2009 after serving five years as
president at South Seattle College, where she directed the development of leading-edge programs and an architecturally vibrant campus.
During her 30-year career at South, she also served in a wide variety of positions.
While she was president, the college was among the first in the state to offer an applied bachelor’s degree. As chancellor, she has
championed more four-year degrees and led a districtwide initiative promoting green and sustainable curricula and programs. She has
stimulated numerous grants and initiatives supporting student success and retention, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Pathway
to Completion and the City of Seattle’s Pathways to Careers grants.
Wakefield is a community college graduate who earned her associate degree from Centralia College, bachelor’s degree in education from
Central Washington University, master’s degree in public administration/public policy from the University of Washington, and doctorate in
educational leadership from Seattle University.
She has taught as a part-time faculty member at Washington State University, Seattle University and Centralia College and served as a
regional accreditor for the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities. Her research, presentations and publications have focused
on business and college partnerships that lead to more effective training and fund development.
Regionally, Wakefield serves on the local boards, including the Workforce Development Council, Economic Development Council of Seattle
and King County (EDC) and United Way of King County. She also serves on several national boards, including the Council for Adult &
Experiential Learning (CAEL), and Higher Education Research and Development Institute (HERDI); she is a member of the RC-2020 association
of select urban community colleges or districts in North America, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Australia and Saudi Arabia. She is the
vice chair of the Seattle Economic Development Commission and a member of Seattle IV Rotary, Education Results Project Sponsors Group, the
King County Executive’s Healthcare Enrollment Leadership Circle, and SkillUp Washington Executive Committee.
Her service in higher education includes membership on the boards of Seattle University and League for Innovation in the Community
College (2015 president). She serves on the national Advisory Committee of Presidents for the Association of Community College Trustees
and is a member of the Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges (2013-14 president), National Council for Resource
Development, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the National Council on Black American Affairs.
The Community College Baccalaureate Association honored Wakefield with its national Pioneer Award for her leadership in developing
four-year degrees. Seattle Magazine named her to its list of Most Influential People of 2012. Centralia College named her its 2007 Alumna
of the Year.
Wakefield has been recognized as a Woman of Influence by the Puget Sound Business Journal and Communicator of the Year by the National
Council for Marketing and Public Relations. She was selected for the Institute for Executive Management at Harvard University and the
Executive Leadership Institute sponsored by the League for Innovation in the Community College.
District Public Information Office
regarding information present on this page.
Green for the 21st Century in Seattle
Innovations in curriculum and operations have earned the 2009 Green Washington Award for the Seattle Colleges
– Central, North and South. All three colleges are active members of the Seattle Climate Partnership and North was an
early signer of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. A district-wide Chancellor’s
Sustainability Initiative provides energy, focus and a forum for emerging training and initiatives.
Sustainability is infused into programs ranging from urban agriculture at Central to environmental science,
real estate and building management across the district. Students have funded a sustainability coordinator.
Campus activities include reducing the carbon footprint and promoting recycling and energy conservation, which earned
a “Recycler of the Year” award for South. Last year, the college culinary operations diverted 31 tons of
materials to a regional composting facility – which returned the compost to “green” the college landscape.
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Helping displaced workers to
‘Start Next Quarter’
During the economic downturn, thousands of displaced workers turned to the Seattle Colleges at the same
time regional employers reported a need for skilled workers to fill jobs in the new economy. To help both potential
workers and employers, the Seattle Colleges developed Start Next Quarter (SNQ), a two-part initiative
designed to improve the success of dislocated workers who enroll in technical education programs. SNQ invites
prospective students to assess their eligibility for workforce funding online and connects them to a comprehensive
two-day college success workshop held at each campus. The workshops are based on a model developed at one of the
district campuses. Students who complete the workshop are more likely to complete their training programs and to
obtain jobs using their new skills. The project was developed in part through a grant from the League for Innovation,
funded by the Walmart Foundation Bright Futures project to serve displaced workers.
A Model for the Region
The Opportunity Center for Employment and Education at North Seattle College is a regional resource and
the first integrated service center of its kind in Washington state. Since the OCE&E opened its doors in spring 2011,
more than 40,000 people have come for one-stop help in finding a new job, career retraining or to sign up for public
assistance benefits. Founding partners were the state Departments of Social and Health Services and Employment
Security, the college, and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. The campus and the new LEED
Gold Certified 45,000-square foot facility are in the heart of Seattle’s north end and close to a major transit hub.
House Speaker Frank Chopp and Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (sponsor of the legislation and a former Seattle District trustee)
championed the OCE&E in the state legislature. The center aims to provide streamlined services in a positive environment,
helping clients succeed in the next stage of their lives.