New Jersey Higher Education Thought Leaders to Speak at AACC National Conference in California

Karla Roth-Bardinas

Think Media Communications or 732-996-9789

New Jersey Higher Education Thought Leaders to Speak at AACC National Conference in California NJCCC President Aaron Fichtner and VP Catherine Frugé Starghill, along with RVCC President Michael McDonough and CCM President Anthony Iacono, to Share NJ Community College Successes

January 19, 2023, Indian Wells, CA – The New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) is proud to announce that its President, Aaron Fichtner, PhD., and its Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships and the Executive Director of the New Jersey Community College Consortium of Workforce and Economic Development, Catherine Frugé Starghill, Esq., are speaking at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) 2023 Workforce Development Institute in Indian Wells, California. Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) President Dr. Michael McDonough and County College of Morris (CCM) President Anthony Iacono, will also be sharing their expertise at the conference themed “Shockwaves,” which runs January 18 – 21, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa.

“We are proud that New Jersey Community Colleges are a catalyst for progress and change both in the Garden State and beyond. The New Jersey Pathways initiative that we developed will be the backbone of strengthening our workforce. We are excited to share our innovative strategies with the more than 600 attendees expected at this conference from around the country to help support their economic development efforts,” said Dr. Fichtner. Fichtner will be a panelist in the workshop session titled, “Policy Priorities,” on Thursday, January 19th, focusing on AACC’s policy priorities for workforce related legislation. He will also be speaking on Saturday, January 20th, during the closing plenary session focused on “Industry 5.0,” about the advancements and interest of Community Colleges in the cell and gene therapy space.

“We are grateful that our expertise and perspective, related to workforce and economic development strategies, have been recognized by conference organizers as valuable to our peers nationwide. We also look forward to gaining insights from our colleagues on how we can improve,” added Starghill. She will be speaking during the “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” preconference session on Wednesday, January 18th.

Fichtner and Starghill are thought leaders in education in New Jersey and the nation. Together in their leadership roles at NJCCC, they spearheaded the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities Initiative which brings together industry and education partners to form an education ecosystem that is connected statewide and is guided by industry leaders to build an innovative workforce in the Garden State. This cutting-edge initiative now has more than 1,200 industry and education partners statewide helping to propel New Jersey’s economy to new heights through a partnership with The New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA).

Prior to becoming President of NJCCC in 2018, Fichtner served as the Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL), where he had previously served as the Department’s Deputy Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner for Research and Information. Fichtner also served as Chair of the National Association of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships, a workforce development affiliate of the National Governors Association. Before joining the Department of Labor, he was the Director of Research and Evaluation at Rutgers University’s Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Fichtner also serves as Vice Chair of Credential Engine’s Board of Directors.

Prior to joining NJCCC, Starghill served as Fichtner’s Deputy Commissioner at NJDOL. She led many of the Department’s program areas including Research and Information, Income Security, and Labor Standards and Safety Enforcement. She previously served as Executive Director of Workforce Operations and Business Services at NJDOL where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the One-Stop Career Centers and the integrated business outreach of workforce field staff with other state and local workforce partners. In that role, she was responsible for more than 300 employees and a $45 million budget. Prior to joining the NJDOL, Starghill served as the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and Executive Director of the NJ Government Records Council.

“The work New Jersey’s Community Colleges is doing to align education and industry is unprecedented. The impact it will have on strengthening our economy cannot be overstated. We are delighted to share our best practices and knowledge with our peers from coast to coast,” said Dr. McDonough. McDonough will be a panelist in the “Early College Exposure and Education Models” workshop session on Thursday, January 19th. Dr. McDonough is the President of Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. Prior to joining RVCC, McDonough served as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY.

Dr. Anthony Iacono, the President of County College of Morris, will be a a panelist in the “Transitioning from Transfer” session on Friday, January 20th.  The audience will hear from leaders in this session who reprioritized their focus from predominantly serving as a transfer institution to more intentionally credentialing students through workforce programming. “I am a firm believer that great Community Colleges are those which strengthen the local economy by helping retain businesses and attracting new companies by training a skilled workforce,” added Dr. Iacono. Iacono has served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, the Florida Department of Education, and various national think tanks and educational reform organizations. He also serves as Chair of the New Jersey Presidents Council as Vice Chair on the Morris County Chamber of Commerce Board.

Lori Margolin, Associate Vice President for the School of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Hudson County Community College, will also be a panelist in the “Success for All: Justice-Involved Students session. Margolin has an entrepreneurial approach to workforce development which has resulted in “Gateway to Innovation” – a comprehensive workforce development initiative funded by JPMorgan Chase Foundation – and the “Hudson County Workforce Leadership Academy” sponsored by The Aspen Institute.

About the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC)

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) was created in 1989 to support and promote New Jersey’s 18 Community Colleges that now enroll more than 300,000 people each year in credit, non-credit, and workforce development courses at more than 70 campuses throughout the state. More than 200,000 students – over half of all undergraduate students in public colleges and universities in the state – are enrolled at New Jersey’s Community Colleges. The Community Colleges also enroll nearly 100,000 students in non-credit programs and partner with thousands of businesses to meet their training and workforce needs.

The primary goal of New Jersey’s 18 Community Colleges is to meet the ever-changing educational needs of our great state’s residents. Today, through more than 1,700 degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit courses and customized workforce training programs, New Jersey Community Colleges are helping more students than ever. Further, equity and access priorities are advanced every day with over half of the total undergraduate enrollment in New Jersey Community Colleges coming from minority and traditionally underrepresented populations.

The New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development is a subsidiary of NJCCC. The Consortium brings together the Community Colleges as a collective to provide workforce development training.

To learn more about NJCCC and New Jersey’s Community Colleges, go to Follow us @NJCommColleges on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to learn more about our latest programs and initiatives.

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About NJCCC:

New Jersey’s 18 agile and innovative Community Colleges are prepared to lead in the response to and recovery from this public health and economic crisis and to secure a brighter future for all New Jerseyans. The New Jersey Council of County Colleges provides statewide leadership for the advancement of New Jersey Community Colleges, performs coordinating responsibilities as required by law, and coordinates statewide efforts to build a skilled workforce and improve student success. We encourage you to visit our website at