The list of candidates to be the next president of Thomas Nelson has been narrowed from more than 90 to four, with interviews for the finalists beginning Sept. 14.
Each candidate will spend about 1½ days with administrators, faculty, staff and students in a combination of in-person and virtual tours and interviews. A decision on who will be the ninth permanent president in College history is expected in December or January. The late Dr. John Dever served in the role from 2011 until December 2019. Dr. Gregory DeCinque has been the interim president since January 2020.
Two finalists, one of whom is a former Thomas Nelson administrator, currently serve as presidents within the VCCS. The four candidates (in alphabetical order) are:
Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon has been the vice president of Student Services at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, N.C., since 2016. She has spent more than 20 years in higher education, beginning as an assistant director and academic adviser at St. John’s College in New York in 1999. Other stops have been at the New York Institute of Technology (Central Advising Center coordinator), the Borough of Manhattan Community College/City University of New York (coordinator for Academic Advising and Transfer), Berkeley College (dean and then assistant vice president), and LaGuardia Community College/CUNY (registrar and then assistant dean of Student Affairs).
Her educational background consists of bachelor’s and master’s degrees from St. John’s University and a doctorate for Fordham University.
Dr. Theresa Felder is the senior vice president for Student Success at Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio, where she has spent much of her professional career. She started there in 1998 when she was named a Workforce Development manager. After taking a break from the college, she returned in 2004 to be a project coordinator for its Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Program and then a retention specialist in its CareerPlus program. Her other roles at the institution were GEAR UP director, dean of the college’s Greene Center, and vice president for Student Affairs and Greene Center operations. She also has been an adjunct professor at the college.
She has a bachelor’s degree from Utica College of Syracuse University, a master’s degree from Central Michigan University, and a doctorate from Northeastern University.
Dr. Daniel Lufkin began his professional journey in education in 1998 as a K-12 teacher. He’s also been at GateWay Community College (Phoenix, Ariz.), where he served in a variety of roles, including director of Student Life/Leadership, Athletics & Wellness; interim associate dean of Student Affairs; and dean of Enrollment Management.
He joined Thomas Nelson in 2013 as vice president for Student Affairs. He was here for three years before being named the president at Paul D. Camp Community College.
His teaching credits include being an adjunct instructor at Mesa Community College in Arizona from 2009 to 2015, and being an associate faculty member at Ashford University in San Diego for the past decade.
He earned bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Potsdam, his master’s from Northern Arizona University, and his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Dr. John Rainone has been involved in higher education for more than 30 years, and the president of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge, Va., since 2013. His career began in 1989 as an assistant dean of Community Education and Workforce Development at what is now Manchester Community College in New Hampshire. He also has worked at York County Community College in Wells, Maine (dean of Professional Development & Business Services; interim dean of Academic Programs; interim chief financial officer; and dean of Institutional Advancement.)
Rainone has extensive experience as an adjunct instructor. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern New Hampshire University; and a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. In 2014, he completed the Harvard University School of Education First-Year President’s Institute.