As Outstanding Trustee in Northeast Region
College of Southern Maryland Trustee Joseph F. Shannon Jr. of La Plata has been awarded the Trustee Leadership Award for the Northeast region of the Association of Community College Trustees. He was recognized at the annual congress, Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in New York City by the ACCT Board of Directors which annually honors an individual who has made a significant contribution as a lay trustee to promote the community college concept.
A trustee on CSM's board since 1997, Shannon served as its chair from 2003 to 2007 and as its vice-chair from 2002 to 2003. Effective next July, his term will conclude. “During his 11 years as a board member, he has devoted innumerable hours to the college in a variety of roles,” said CSM Board Chair James K. Raley, adding, “Because of the college's bylaws, this is the last year that he can serve as trustee, and the board believes that this is the appropriate time for him to be recognized. Joe epitomizes what the Trustee Leadership Award is all about.”
“It has been a privilege to serve the College of Southern Maryland. We are blessed with a dynamic staff, faculty and executive management team, serving the tri-county area with nationally recognized programs and leadership. These are challenging times, which make the opportunities all the more exciting. CSM is the jewel of the community, giving our citizens boundless opportunities to break into new careers and further their education. I am honored to be a part of CSM's abundant legacy that has provided the opportunity for countless individuals to enrich their lives and realize their potential,” said Shannon.
For Shannon highlights of his service to the college include its transition to a regional community college, its contributions to foster the community's dialogue with regard to the county's diversity, and the transition to the colleges fourth president.
The college was designated as a regional community college in 2000 through state legislation which formed the College of Southern Maryland. “I was blessed to be on the board, with Dianne McWilliams and Verna Posey as the chairs, as the College of Southern Maryland was established. It was an event that will shape our region for generations to come.” Shannon said. “One of the concerns was that we have the same collegial atmosphere with people from throughout the region and we have been able to maintain that,” he added.
Another transition for the college and the community that has gone smoothly, Shannon said, is the arrival of the college's fourth president, Dr. Brad Gottfried. “I remember when then-president Elaine Ryan came and said she was going to retire, I said, 'Gosh, Elaine, I wish you nothing but the best,' but I was thinking of the terror every board chair has when the chief executive comes in and says they are leaving. But [Trustee] Rick Bailey chaired the search, and that process and the transition has been smooth. You never replace an exact person. Instead there is a different person with unique skill sets and who is very effective,” he said.
“Joe was a driving force within each of those efforts, and was instrumental in mentoring and coaching our newly appointed trustees who were not residents of Charles County to integrate us into a unified board acting on behalf of the college. He also was key in establishing criteria and processes in the presidential search that resulted in the college naming its fourth president,” Raley said.
A personal highlight for Shannon has been the colleges involvement with the Charles County Unity in OUR Community forums. “I'm particularly pleased personally with the college's involvement to get the annual diversity forum moving,” he said. “I recall the morning vividly when I heard the first fire truck go by, then another and another. I've been known to exaggerate but there was a ton of them. When I drove by Hunters Brooke later that morning and saw all of them there, my first thought was environmental terrorism. Of course, we later found out that the arson was related to racism. That was an issue which I thought was long since resolved in our community. It bothered me. I couldn't figure out what we could do. Shortly after Brad came on board I remembered an event on diversity he had hosted at his previous school and I invited Senator Middleton to join us in my home to brainstorm some ideas. Out of that came the diversity forum.”
“It's a little thing, but getting that ball rolling, if there's something I've left behind, I'm glad to get that moving along,” Shannon said.
For others on the board, there is gratitude for Shannon's push to ensure high school students are prepared for college coursework and to ensure that students of color have the opportunity to pursue the engineering profession. He strongly encouraged the development of articulation agreements with several historically black colleges and challenged the college to find ways to fund programs that would encourage students into these professions, with the college receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and the Energetics Technology Center.
“Joe has worked tirelessly to create linkages with Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's county boards of education in order to foster programs such as early admission to the college, and free diagnostic tests in math and reading for high school students considering going to college as well as to increase student interest in considering courses in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM),” Gottfried said. The STEM initiative is expected to have lasting impact within Southern Maryland as it will lead to a greater workforce for local defense contractors and at local military installations and better prepare students who want to transfer to four-year institutions, Gottfried explained.
Active within the community, Shannon has served as president of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce. For five years he served as a member of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. A founding member of the Indian Head Defense Alliance, he has served as president of the Indian Head chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association for 13 years and he was on the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland Regional Strategy Committee, 1997-98. He was the annual master of ceremonies at the Health Partners Celebrity Auction for the Charles County Healthcare Association for the last five years.
Currently director of the Customer Advocate Office at NSWC Indian Head, Shannon has served 24 years in government and 17 years in the private sector. He was the Chief Operating Officer at Applied Ordnance Technology, a government contractor supporting the DOD technology base in engineering and science, information technology, environmental sciences, logistics and acquisition. He also served as vice president for marketing at Bolton & Associates, a civil engineering, land planning and surveying firm.
Shannon received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and attended the Naval War College off-campus graduate program.