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Education & Government
Diana Baker Freeman Image
Diana Baker Freeman
Sr. Manager, Modern Governance Advocacy & Iniatives

Find out who we're celebrating as this month’s Community Champion

March 29, 2024
0 min read
diligent community champions

Our featured champions are dedicated leaders working in the public sector who have been nominated for their innovation, resilience, dedication and empathy in the face of a complex and ever-changing world. Dr. Anna Everett is recognized this month as a Community Champion. Find out more about this month’s Community Champion:

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Would you like to nominate someone for our Diligent Community Champions? Nominate them here!

May's Community Champion

Name: Dr. Anna Everett

Title: Vice President and Trustee

Organization: Santa Barbara City College

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About our Community Champion

Dr. Anna Everett is an Emeritus Professor of Film, Television and New Media Studies, and former Chair of the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Currently she is an elected Trustee serving as Vice President on the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees.She was appointed and served as Commissioner for two full terms on the County of Santa Barbara County Commission for Women, and currently serves on the Board of Directors at the National Association of Commissions for Women.

Dr. Everett is a Ford Foundation Senior Fellow, and a two-time recipient of the Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, among other honors and awards. Her numerous publications include Returning the Gaze: A Genealogy of Black Film Criticism, 1909-1949; Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital Media; AfroGeeks: Beyond the Digital Divide; Digital Diaspora: A Race for Cyberspace, among many others.

She has worked as a subject area expert with the MacArthur Foundation, the American Film Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of African American History and Culture among others. She recently launched a diversity, equity and inclusion consulting business, EDS (Everett Diversity Strategies+).

Dr. Everett says, “Good governance is an essential component in the educational mission of the Santa Barbara Community College District. As a state institution, Santa Barbara City College’s systems of good governance are organized around public transparency, accountability, and fair operational policies designed to deliver the best cost-effective educational opportunities to all of our students, and thereby contributing the best workforce to our larger community that we serve proudly.”

April's Community Champion

Name: Chandramathi “Chandu” Vemuri

Title: Executive Assistant for Board and Superintendent Leadership

Organization: Sun Prairie Area School District, Sun Prairie, WI.

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About our Community Champion

This is what Chandu’s colleagues have to say about her: “She is in a class of her own in understanding the priorities of the board and ensuring the board's agendas drive meaningful processes.” 

“She's meticulous in coordinating the various departments with the board's Annual Work Plan, so that our board's work is effective. And, she's done this year after year.”

“Her willingness to engage our community is authentic and genuine. From volunteering for local events, to supporting and planning volunteering efforts, she's a model for the entire school district.”

“She's one of the best proactive communicators in our system. She's insightful, caring and selfless in her relationships with our board, cabinet and leadership collaborative.”

“The way she utilizes technology innovatively, with our support of board meetings with screencasts, presentations and situation reports, is amazing. The comprehensiveness in her recordkeeping and the way she ensures compliance with our governing model, state statute and other expectations is remarkable.”

“Her support for the professional development of our board and other school boards in the region is extraordinary. Her knowledge base about governance is second to none among peers. Her understanding of governance is best-in-class.”

“Above all, her personalized support of those around her, board and administration alike, is always with empathy, professionalism and commitment to our students, and always with trust, respect and dedication to our school district.”

We at Diligent Community are so impressed with all that Chandu does in service to her community!

March's Community Champion

Name: Jessica Markham

Title: Town Clerk

Organization: Town of Carbondale​, Co.

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About our Community Champion

Jessica Markham has been the Town Clerk since 2023, demonstrating meticulous organization and dedicated service. Her responsibilities include recordkeeping, managing licensing for alcohol, marijuana and tobacco, and overseeing the board of trustees' meetings. In her role, Jessica organizes meetings and creates all the board packets, contributing significantly to the town's governance.

We are thrilled to recognize Jessica as this month’s Community Champion for her service to her community. Jessica's dedication and commitment are essential to the smooth operation of her town government. We celebrate her outstanding service and thank her for being a true champion for her community.

February's Community Champion

Name: Dr. Chad Bledsoe

Title: President

Organization: Montgomery Community College, NC

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About our Community Champion

Dr. Chad Bledsoe has been the President of Montgomery Community College for eight years, leading it in its mission to provide lifelong accessible and transformative educational opportunities. Dr. Bledsoe's background in business and information systems informs his focus on higher education administration. He actively showcases new campus initiatives on LinkedIn, highlighting his commitment to innovation in education. As well as being President Dr. Bledsoe is chief academic officer, chief executive officer and works with his board to achieve its goals.

He brings a dynamic and innovative perspective to higher education administration and actively engages with the broader community. By showcasing Montgomery Community College’s initiatives to a broad audience, he inspires others and serves as a powerful advocate for the transformative power of lifelong learning.

We celebrate Dr. Bledsoe for his exceptional leadership, dedication to innovation, and commitment to making education accessible to all. We are delighted to recognize him as a true Community Champion!

January’s Community Champion

Name: Dr. RJ Gravel

Title: Associate Superintendent

Organization: Glenbrook High School District 225

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About our Community Champion

A native of the Chicago suburbs, Dr. RJ Gravel is the Associate Superintendent at Glenbrook High School District 225. As an educator, business manager, and technologist in elementary, secondary, and higher education, he is a co-moderator of #EdFinChat, a SMART Exemplary Educator, and a Skyward Leader in Excellence recipient.

Dr. Gravel advocates for effective technology integration in Pre-K-12 education and contributes to numerous publications, emphasizing the importance of collaborative leadership for student and staff success.

Dr. Gravel is being recognized for his dedication to his role and because we admire his efforts to enhance transparency in his district. His hard work significantly impacts and facilitates better decision-making for his students and the broader community he serves.

Dr. Gravel is receptive to community members’ voices and welcomes constructive feedback, using it as a tool for improvement and an opportunity for the betterment of all involved. His proactive and dedicated approach has positively impacted his district, fostering a culture of trust and advancement.

“Our mission is to educate the students for success for a lifetime of learning. Diligent helps us communicate that and helps us be successful in that goal by making sure that our community understands the great things that are happening in our district today and what our plans are for the future,” - Dr. RJ Gravel.

Congratulations Dr. Gravel!

Would you like to nominate someone for our Diligent Community Champions? Nominate them here!
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