Kennon D. Briggs

Prior to his retirement from the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) in 2012 after thirty-two years in state and local government, Kennon Briggs served for four and a half years as Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, and for over a decade as Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer for the System. Before coming to the NCCCS, Mr. Briggs had been a Senior Budget Analyst in the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management for eleven years, with fiscal, policy and oversight responsibility for community colleges and the University of North Carolina System. He began his career in local government, as a County Manager in two counties in the state.

Since retiring, Mr. Briggs has served as either Interim President or Interim Chief Financial Officer at five community colleges in the NCCCS, and enjoys a robust consulting practice that includes Board of Trustees and senior leadership training and professional development, budget and policy analysis, operational and management assessments, and college bylaws and policy manual re-writes. He is considered an expert on community college law. Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees at the University of North Carolina Asheville, is a Senior Advisor to Upswing, Inc. – a student services and learning company, and is a Subject Matter Expert on community colleges Accenture.

Mr. Briggs has a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University, and has participated in post-graduate education and training in the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2013 he received the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine”, the highest civilian award given by the Governor for exemplary service to and exceptional accomplishments on behalf of the State of North Carolina. In 2001 he was selected as the Outstanding Fiscal Officer in North Carolina state government. In 2023, he gave the Keynote Address to 300+ participants at The "Upswing Virtual Conference 2023: Equity in Education". Upswing is a student support and real-time, one-on-one tutoring technology start-up enterprise on a mission to end attrition.

Spotlight Questions

1. Who was your earliest professional influence?

My 10th and 12th grade teacher of “Comparative Government” and “The United States Government”, respectively – Mrs. Yvonne Wilkins – sparked a flame within me that has burned for over 40 years now. Mrs. Wilkins’ delivery of knowledge about and an understanding of government, complemented by my late Father’s love of democracy, country, and flag, led me into a career and lifetime of Public Service. I wrote Mrs. Wilkinson a letter several years after I had completed Masters of Public Administration and become a County Manager, and shared with her the influence that she had upon my career choice.

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

Since 1963, North Carolina Governors have reserved their highest honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, for persons who made significant contributions to the State and their communities through their exemplary service and accomplishments. I am humbled to share that I was a County Manager in two counties in North Carolina; served two Governors in the N.C. Office of State Budget and Management, managing Higher Education budgets; worked closely with the North Carolina General Assembly for over three decades; and served two North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) Presidents as System V.P. for Business and Finance and as Executive V.P. and Chief of Staff. I suppose that fills the “service” requirement. Upon my retirement from State service in December 2012, the Governor presented me with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. It was a memorable yet tearful experience.

3. What is your favorite pastime or hobby?

I have three, to wit: A daily regimen of exercise that includes distance running and weight training; reading non-fiction and watching college football; and spending time with two Granddaughters (and a Grandson on the way).

4. If not Higher Ed, what?

Were it not for higher education, I would not be writing this personal reflection. I am the first person in the history of my Family to attend college. I worked and paid my own way through undergraduate and graduate school at North Carolina State University. Members of my family and close friends attended North Carolina Community Colleges, and I served the System for seventeen years. I believe that Higher Ed lifts all people up – no matter who they are. If not for Higher Ed….I have absolutely no idea what.

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

“No matter where you go, what you do or accomplish, or how high you may climb; no matter who you might think you are, the position(s) you may attain, or recognitions you may receive; and no matter the mountains you may scale or valleys you may descend into; never, ever forget “who” you really are, where you came from, those people who encouraged you along the way; and your responsibility to do so for others.” My Father

6. What is your favorite drink?

There are three: Clean water, Central American Coffee, and dark red, “Old Vine” Zinfandel from the Lodi region of California!

7. What is your favorite cuisine?

I really enjoy cooking, and get creative with homemade concoctions of veggies and chicken sautéed in sunflower oil, grated parmesan cheese, my creation of a cream sauce, and different pastas each time. So, I guess it is pasta with a homestyle twist. My guests and Family don’t complain.

8. What is your favorite movie?

Again, no doubt about it: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’m not confident that any of us ever fully appreciate the difference that we can, and sometimes actually do, make in other people’s lives. As I mentioned about my Higher Education experience, coupled with the best piece of advice I ever received, people were placed in my path that saw in me things that I never knew about or saw in myself. From my high school teacher, to my Father, to professionals for whom I worked… every one of them made a significant difference in my life. I try to do the same for others. What a great reminder that movie is.

9. Fun fact?

Some folk say I’m a person who can even make work fun, because I so love to work. That being said, perhaps a “fun fact” is I’m an amateur meteorologist. Not only do I love work, I love the complexities, unpredictability, dynamics, and beauty of weather. It is truly an amazing phenomena.

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