Cheryl Roberts, Ed.D.

Twenty years of proven executive-leadership and management experience. Fourteen years as a community college president successfully reporting directly to a Board. Built a reputation for developing strategic, financial, management, and equity plans that yield results. Broad experience with the biotechnology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, automotive, and high technology industries. Substantial experience with Board dynamics and governance. Demonstrated experience serving on national and regional boards. Executive experience working in extraordinarily complex and regulated environments with federal and state agencies.

While Dr. Roberts has extensive professional and academic experience, her love of and commitment to education and public service started as a child. Her father, LeRoy Roberts Jr., who from his childhood roots in a segregated Georgia and one of eight children, became a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Force and a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Her mother grew up in South Carolina, graduated from the historically Black college Benedict—where she taught first-year English at the age of 15, even before receiving her baccalaureate degree at 18.

Dr. Roberts forged her own educational path starting with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Seattle University, a Master of Arts in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education from The Ohio State University and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Seattle University.

Fond of citing inspirational quotes, Dr. Roberts often refers to Marcel Proust: “The voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Under her leadership, she has helped the colleges she served have ‘new eyes’ helping students finish what they start.

Spotlight Questions

1. Who was your earliest professional influence? 

As cliché as it may sound, I had amazing parents who deeply influenced my professional journey. My own experience is rooted in the segregated South where my parents were born, and where we lived for most of my early years. Let me start by saying both my parents were high school valedictorians. No pressure there! My father grew up in Georgia. He was the oldest of nine children and had a remarkable career as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. He began his military life as one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen in WWII. He also was among the first African American fighter pilots who led an integrated squadron in the Korean War. His life exemplified love of country, resilience, and dedication, even when our country didn’t love him back. My mother grew up in South Carolina. She had an extraordinary intellect and heart. She graduated from Benedict, an historically Black college, where she received her baccalaureate degree at 18 and taught first-year college English at the age of 15. She started her career teaching high school French and English. Ultimately, her love of learning led her to become an academic librarian. My parents’ experiences and values laid the foundation for my passion for higher education and public service. 

2. What are you most proud of personally and professionally? 

Lao Tzu said it well, “A leader is best when people barely know the leader exists, when the work is done, and the aim fulfilled, they will say we did it ourselves.” Helping people do better what they love to do well has been the touchstone for my life. Whether it's helping students, colleagues, or community partners, I’ve found fulfillment guiding others to live into their possibilities.

3. What is your favorite pastime or hobby?

My diverse interests reflect my personality. From my early introduction to pickleball, in 1976, when my dad created a court in our backyard including making our own paddles, to winning a mixed-double tournament in 1977, I’m now revisiting the sport four decades later. When I'm not working with clients, you'll find me on the pickleball court; baking up a storm; or knitting something cozy for hospice patients or baby beanies for newborns. I’m all about keeping my mind and body active, engaged, and in service to others! 

4. If not Higher Ed, what?

Hmmm…If I hadn't pursued higher education, I could see myself as an interior designer or podcast host. Ultimately, being a college president allowed me to bring together all my passions— designing environmentally responsive buildings and interiors that reflected place and setting or asking questions of meaning to showcase others' strengths and talents while motivating them with my words and actions. My life and career have been more than rewarding!

5. What was the best piece of advice you have received?

My parents imparted invaluable advice that fostered my empathy and understanding of others. My Mom and Dad would remind me to "Always start with the truth, because wrong is wrong all by itself. And love the essence of people!” These words of wisdom have stayed with me, shaping how I approach life and leadership.

6. What is your favorite drink? 

I enjoy crafting unique festive beverages to elevate gatherings with friends and family. And my favorite? Well, it's whatever I’m creating next! 

7. What is your favorite cuisine?

As for cuisine, I have a penchant for dishes featuring noodles, appreciating the diversity of flavors and cultural influences they offer. So, simply said, anything with noodles---you can't go wrong with noodles—they're my go-to comfort food.

8. What is your favorite movie?

"My Brilliant Career" resonates deeply with me. It’s more than an exceptional book and movie about the first woman author in Australia or a love story. It’s about forging your own path despite societal expectations and mirrors my own commitment to empowerment and self-determination. It’s inspirational!

9. Fun Fact?

Like many, my first job was in fast-food. I was recognized as “Employee of the Month” for my sales acumen and quick thinking. Two memorable moments? Well, I was featured for upselling corn nibblets and my quick thinking foiled a robbery. These experiences taught me the importance of a lesson I carried throughout my life especially when I was a visiting professor at American University in Les Caye, Haiti during the military coupe in 1991 – stay calm, listen intently to what people need, and be prepared for whatever comes my way.

Cheryl Roberts, Ed.D.