Varsovia Fernandez has been elected as the chairwoman of the Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) Board of Trustees.
This is the first time since the college was founded in 1964 that the Board will be led by a Latina chairwoman.
“It is my honor to serve as chair of this remarkable institution and to support its mission to educate students of all backgrounds, ethnicities and socioeconomic status,” said Fernandez in a statement.
Fernandez had originally been appointed onto the MCCC’s Board of Trustees in 2018, and currently serves on the Finance and Student Success committees, holding the position of assistant secretary in 2021. She also serves as co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Equity and Social Justice, which oversees diversity programs and reviews MCCC’s policies for equity, inclusiveness and culturally responsive practices across the college.
“I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Board, President Bastecki-Perez and the cabinet members, and the entire Montco Family, as we remain committed to supporting the success of all learners across our communities,” Fernandez added.
Frank X. Custer, the incumbent MCCC board chair who has served since 2019, offered his congratulations to Fernandez.
“I am thrilled that the Board has chosen Varsovia Fernandez to succeed me as chair, and I wish her the greatest success,” he said.
Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, MCCC President, shared similar sentiments and noted Fernandez’s extensive career as being beneficial as she takes on the new role.
“Her expert leadership in business and the community and her commitment to equity and belonging combined with the dedication and diverse talent of the Board will benefit the College as we develop our strategic goals and strategies,” said Dr. Bastecki-Perez.
Fernandez has more than 25 years of combined management experience across a variety of different industries. She currently serves as the executive director of the Pennsylvania CDFI Network, where she leads a vast network of 17 community development financial institutions (CDFIs) across the state.
Prior to this, she held a number of other executive leadership roles, including the chief executive officer of V2 Business Advisers; the senior vice president and Philadelphia Market Leader at Customers Bank; and nearly 10 years as president & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC).
Throughout her tenure leading the GPHCC, the Chamber saw its membership grow from 50 members to 600 and from 5,300 businesses to over 18000, helping establish it as one of the largest Latino chambers of commerce in the nation.
Despite stepping down from the role in 2015, Fernandez remains an active member of the Greater Philadelphia business community. She recently helped organize and launch the Philadelphia Growth, Resiliency, Independence, Tenacity (GRIT) Fund, a new $ 100 million initiative to provide loans for diverse business owners in the region and support capacity building for its CDFIs.
In addition to Fernandez’s appointment as MCCC chair, the Board also elected Lisa B. Binder as vice chair; Marcel L. Groen as treasurer; Theresa M. Reilly as secretary; and Margot Clark as assistant secretary.
The MCCC Board of Trustees is a 15-member board tasked with establishing the necessary policies for the college’s operations, aiming to serve the educational, workforce and cultural needs of all students and Montgomery County communities.