NACCE Playbook | Volume One

Embracing a New Frontier

Lemon Tree

For all of us, 2020 unleashed a myriad of challenges spanning personal, professional and community domains. It has challenged us to slow down and pause, to acclimate to a virtual and socially distant world, and simultaneously required us to respond to rapid-fire change that impacted nearly every aspect of our organization. Notably, it has also afforded us the opportunity to make needed changes, to become even more innovative, and to form deeper bonds with those around us.

For NACCE, 2020 was a wild ride. We began the year welcoming new staff members, opening a new office in a new state, and feeling bullish about the year ahead. As a new reality set in, we had to close our new office, require that staff work remotely, cancel employee travel, and postpone in-person conferences. These events prompted me to ask ourselves two critical questions – how can we preserve and redirect our fortified internal operations to better serve our members, but also what more can we be doing?

As Dr. Shari Olson, NACCE Board Chair stated, “There is danger in complacency. Even with the multitude of challenges we are facing, now is not the time for NACCE to be complacent. We need to be thinking in terms of what we can do better, how we can do more, and how we can prepare ourselves for both the known and the unknowns.”

For the last 18 years NACCE has been the national voice of entrepreneurship for community and technical colleges.  NACCE  has been front and center in its quest to strengthen and grow entrepreneurship in our colleges, communities and businesses. During the spring of 2020 the NACCE staff  took a “pause” to engage our imaginations and ask the difficult and complex questions on how best to serve our membership in this time of so many unknowns. With our entrepreneurial mindset in place, leveraging the thought leadership from our first book, Community Colleges as Incubators of Innovation: Unleashing Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Communities and Students, we set out to amplify and knit together the voices of more than 50 people from across the country to create this playbook, encouraging agile, innovative transformation. 

Preserving Internal Resources

Our first task was to assess the best way for the NACCE team to plan and communicate with leadership, partners, and members. To be successful, we needed to embrace a video conferencing strategy and establish new norms to maximize performance. Fortunately, our entire team was familiar with video conference tools, and the majority were already operating remotely. 

We had to face some harsh revenue realities, experiencing what we anticipated to be a dramatic loss in conference and technical assistance revenue, a bearish market for our long term savings, and uncertainty on how and when we could move purposely forward. We were forced to quickly reduce costs in all non-essential areas.

All of these factors caused us to explore how we could continue – or even improve on – ways to provide value to members on several fronts. Understanding member needs and how those have changed during the pandemic: 

  • Providing continued value to our corporate and foundation partners and offering solutions to their problems

  • Experimenting with new programs

  • Responding effectively to social and community problems that align with our mission

As we worked through the “new” 2020, we needed to rely on entrepreneurial thinking to galvanize an action plan.

This is where the
rubber meets the road.


This is where the

cream is gonna rise.


This is what you

really didn't know.


This is where the

truth don't lie.

You find out who

your friends are. 

                 Tracy Lawrence,

Country Singer 


Find Out Who Your Friends Are

Going Global on Entrepreneurial Journey
with President Stephen Spinelli Jr.

Making Our Way Forward (NACCE Podcast)  | June 23, 2021

To listen to the audio file of this podcast recording,
click the sound bar below. 

00:00 / 01:04

As a result, we were able to achieve forward momentum on several key initiatives:​

  • Launching the Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Council in 23 states with more to follow

  • Kicking off Phase II of the Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund, which raised $1.2 million in the spring of 2020

  • Establishing the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Center of Entrepreneurship & Innovation to members across the nation with a $900,000 multi-year gift

  • Hosting 200 attendees from 35 states during a unique virtual drone technology conference

  • Serving as a pivotal resource for members seeking to address racial injustice in their institutions and focusing on making NACCE even more inclusive, diverse, and equitable.

Applying Entrepreneurial Mindset & Grit 

COVID-19 has impacted every phase of our lives. It has disrupted our economy, closed our community colleges, and battered the hospitality industry.  The pandemic is not forgiving. It takes lives and creates fear for everyone. The new normal for all of us will be very different than the normal we know today. This has caused all of us to think differently. It has caused us to try new ways of doing things, experiment, and look for models to help us solve problems. We all know that successful entrepreneurs are innovative, collaborative, and gritty. And when you embrace and use the entrepreneurial mindset model for thinking and acting along with passion and perseverance you can empower anyone to succeed. The needs in our community and technical colleges are varied and complicated. Dr. Susan May, former NACCE Board Chair and President of Fox Valley Technical College, stated, “While community college leaders have a long history of innovation at their colleges, those leaders that embrace and utilize the entrepreneurship mindset philosophy will be better positioned to meet the future challenges at their colleges.”  That is why NACCE is inviting some of the best talent in the country to help author a new playbook –The Entrepreneurship Mindset: The New Standard for Success In Community Colleges.  At the end of each chapter, you'll find a worksheet with prompts to help you and your team explore the entrepreneurship mindset. We hope you'll use these tools to spark conversations and action in your college and in your community. 

Becky Signature.jpg
Rons Signature.jpg

Rebecca A. Corbin, Ed.D.                                          Ronald Thomas, Ph.D.

President & CEO                                                         NACCE President’s Emeritus Council

NACCE                                                                          Retired Community College President

Explore Volume One


Looking for more? Take a listen to this curated collection from NACCE's own podcast, Making Our Way Forward. Like what you hear? Subscribe on your favorite platform!  

The Weismiller’s Entrepreneurial Journey: When Two Become One
00:00 / 01:04
Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Legacy: Servant Leadership for Skilled Trades & Entrepreneurs with CEO Carlene Cassidy
00:00 / 01:04
Leading from the Middle: Collaboration Over Competition with Mike Moss
00:00 / 01:04