About Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker
Dr. Schoonmaker began his leadership journey in the 1970s while still a youth. Selected as a Church Deacon at the age of 16, Stephen also served on the Vermont Youth Cabinet for three years while still in high school.
Stephen has more than 35 years of professional leadership experience. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at the University of Vermont, his Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Services from Western Illinois University, and completed his Doctoral degree in Educational Administration with an emphasis in Community College Leadership in 2004 from New Mexico State University.
An educator, Stephen spent his early career serving public four-year universities and colleges in Vermont, Illinois, Maryland, California and Oregon in progressively responsible positions in Student Services. In 1992 he moved from higher education to serve for six years as the Human Rights and Social Services Analyst for the city of Salem, Oregon. During his tenure there he helped resolve discrimination complaints, promote harmony in a diverse community, and improved city-community relations (especially for local law enforcement through community policing training). Through his leadership the Salem Human Rights Commission successfully pulled a national advertisement that was viewed as derogatory to Native Americans.
In 1998, Stephen relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico and returned to academia, where he quickly moved from Student Services to Academic Affairs at the largest community college in the state. He also moved from teaching in workshops and seminars to the classroom (both brick and mortar, and online). After completing his doctoral dissertation on faculty leadership in the classroom, Dr. Schoonmaker moved back to Oregon in 2005 to serve as a community college Vice President until 2011. In 2012 Stephen was hired as a College President, relocating him to Arkansas. Dr. Schoonmaker continues teaching a leadership class he developed with a colleague in Oregon in 2008.
President Schoonmaker quickly made his mark as an effective leader, helping the college brand under its new name changed six months prior to his arrival. Stephen helped the college be recognized as a Leader College with the national educational reform movement organization Achieving the Dream in 2012, a Top Ten Community College in the Nation for Excellence by the Aspen Institute in 2013, and a recipient of the Governor’s Commitment Level Quality Award in 2015 based on the stringent Baldrige Quality Standards. By many objective measures of institutional effectiveness and success in higher education – enrollment stability; improved fiscal soundness; student success support enhancements; targeted new programs for high demand, high skilled, high wage workforce fields; curricular reforms; facility renovations and expansion; efficiency organizational restructure; and embedding systems thinking and continuous quality improvement into the organization’s culture – the college made tremendous progress building on the solid foundation of its history to transform itself under his capable leadership.
After leading the college to a regional, national, and international reputation brand for quality, innovation, and student success in less than four years, Stephen and his family decided he should follow the urgings from his leadership peers at the regional, national and international levels to share his decades of leadership expertise on a more prominent stage. Dr. Schoonmaker founded Cross Country Leadership Solutions, LLC (CCLS) in January 2016.