Linn-Benton Community College Announces New Board Chair, Swears in New Board Officers

- New Board leadership  reflective of East Linn County -

Albany, Ore. -- The Linn-Benton Community College Board of Education elected new officers and swore in new members at its meeting on July 21. Kristin Adams, of Sweet Home, was elected to Board Chair; and Dr. Jeannie Davis, of Lebanon, elected to Vice-Chair. Jim Merryman, of Albany, was sworn in to renew his service as Zone 2-3 representative; Joan Reukauf, of Corvallis, was sworn in to renew her service as Zone 6-7 representative; and John Sarna, of Corvallis -- newly elected to the board by public vote -- was sworn in as Zone 5 representative.

"I want to congratulate Kristin Adams on her election as LBCC Board Chair," said President Lisa Avery. "LBCC is renewing and strengthening its commitments to our rural and small town partners, and it is wonderful that our new board leadership represents East Linn County, while still retaining the deep knowledge and commitment of our outgoing leadership, who will remain on the board. Kristin is a true champion of education and I'm delighted to have her partnership and vision as LBCC works to meet the needs of all students in our district."

Adams is a veteran employee of Sweet Home High School, serving as High School Success Coordinator, where she oversees systemic changes to increase graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment, and technical education advancements. 

"I'm honored for the support to begin this new journey as board chair," said Adams. "We have a dynamic board with an inclusive, visionary President at the helm of our school and the future looks bright.

Adams' lifelong commitment to education is truly part of a family legacy -- in fact, her mother, Janice Horner-Eicher, served on the LBCC Board of Directors from 2000 to 2014, and was Chair of the Board when the college hired its first female president, Dr. Rita Cavin, in 2003.

"I come from a long line of educators," said Adams. "My great grandfather, grandmother and father all had degrees in Education. It was my mother though who pushed us to find our paths through postsecondary education. Today I'm proud to say that all four of my kids took classes at LBCC. Two of my boys are now teachers at Sweet Home High School."

Adams has worked for her school district for almost twenty years in a variety of capacities. In 2008, she wrote and received a state funded GEAR UP grant which sought to bring early awareness to undergraduate programs and increase enrollment in postsecondary institutions. It was through this effort where she truly fell in love with helping students find their path for next steps after high school graduation, and became more aware of the transformational power of community colleges like LBCC. 

"I believe that LBCC is a change agent for every student that participates in one of our programs," said Adams. "Whether it be learning a new language through a community education program, honing a skill set with an applied associates degree or setting the foundation for a four year degree and beyond, LBCC is a prominent contributing factor in changing lives for the better.  

Kristin Adams replaces Jim Merryman as Board Chair, who chose to step down though remain on the board after many years of service as LBCC's chief public officer. Merryman is well-known in the community as Chairman of the Board of Oregon Freeze Dry; in 2018 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Albany Chamber of Commerce.

"On behalf of Linn-Benton Community College, I want to recognize and thank Jim Merryman for his outstanding service as our LBCC Board Chair these past six years," said LBCC President Lisa Avery. "Jim’s service as board chair is unparalleled. He has been a steadying, innovative, community-minded leader who has helped LBCC strengthen its ties to business and industry. His work on the Pipeline Project, now a part of our STEM-CTE Hub, was groundbreaking and nationally recognized. I'm very pleased that he will remain on the Board."

In addition, Dr. Jeannie Davis, who serves as Community Health Educator for Western University of Health Sciences, steps into the vice-chair role replacing Tony Lapiz, who will also remain on the Board.

"I'm glad to welcome Dr. Davis in her new role on our Board as well as to continue benefiting from her perspective as a university-educator. I'm also thankful for Tony’s advocacy on behalf of students and equity, and I am very grateful for his ongoing work in steering the college through multiple transitions and events through board service," said President Avery. 

John Sarna is completely new to the board, beginning his board service after successfully winning his recent public election to represent Zone 5. 

"I strongly believe that community colleges are a foundational piece of our higher education system, said Sarna. "They are the rock on which many build a solid career and provide continued learning opportunities for people of all ages and life-experience.  Having attended four such institutions, including LBCC for the past several years, I can attest to their benefits for life-long learning."

Sarna replaces Linda Modrell, who served the college for many years and resigned early this year.