Presidential Search Finalists

Chancellor Garcia announces three finalists for the Community College of Denver Presidency.

The three finalists, in alphabetical order are Marielena DeSanctis, Ph.D. , Landon K. Pirius, Ph.D., and Nicole Reaves, Ed.D. 

CCD Presidential Finalists' Bios

Marielena (Marie) DeSanctis, Ph.D.

Dr. Marielena DeSanctis currently serves as the Provost & Senior Vice-President, Academic Affairs and Student Services of Broward College. Dr. DeSanctis has more than 22 years of experience in education, including classroom teaching, curriculum development, instructional design, learning assessment, and progressive leadership roles in both K-12 and higher education. Prior to her current leadership role, she has served as High School Assistant Principal and Principal, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and Central Campus President and Vice-President of Student Affairs. Broward College serves approximately 63,000 students through three main campuses and five instructional centers in south Florida and ten SACSCOC accredited centers worldwide, six international affiliates, and eight international partner institutions.

As Provost and Senior Vice-President, Dr. DeSanctis is responsible for Broward College’s campuses and centers’ leadership and daily operations, including a shared campus with Florida Atlantic University and a shared center with Florida International University. Through a leadership team, she oversees all aspects of the College’s academic programs and personnel, a collegiate high school and the dual-enrollment program in partnership with the school district, all student services functions and personnel, and the professional development of all Broward College employees. Also included are two shared-use libraries with the Broward County Public Library System, and one shared-use library with Florida Atlantic University, the Registrar’s Office, Curriculum Services, Institutional Accessibility, Testing, and Tutoring. Additionally, under her leadership, Broward College serves F-1 visa students in South Florida and students in accredited international centers, affiliates, and partner locations.

Dr. DeSanctis is an active and passionate advocate for her local, state, and nationwide community. Dr. DeSanctis is a member of the 2019-2020 class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence and a member of Leadership Florida Class XXXV. Before answering a call to education, Dr. DeSanctis served almost six years of experience as an engineer in the manufacturing and construction sector. Her education includes a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in Math Education from Nova Southeastern University, and an Ed.S. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University.

Born in South Florida to a mother that emigrated from Cuba, she is fluent in Spanish. Among her accomplishments, she is most proud of her two children - Conner (26) and Allie (23). She currently resides in Palm Beach County, Florida, with her husband Lance DeSanctis, their dogs Harley, Stitch and Lexi, and parrot Cowboy.

Landon K. Pirius, Ph.D.

Dr. Landon K. Pirius serves as the Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). In his role as Provost for CCCS, he provides strategic leadership related to all aspects of academic affairs, student affairs, and online education. Dr. Pirius also provides leadership and coordination among the 13 college’s Presidents and Vice Presidents, and he works closely with other System and college staff to advance teaching excellence, improve the classroom experience, and champion student success. During his tenure at CCCS, he served as advisor to the State Student Advisory Council and always places the student voice at the forefront of his visionary leadership. Additionally, Dr. Pirius leads diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives aimed at fostering exceptional teaching and learning environments.  

Dr. Pirius received his B.A. in Russian Studies and Environmental Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota. His graduate research focused on intercultural training in virtual and gaming environments.  He is an alumni of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence.  Currently, Dr. Pirius serves on the Board of Directors of the Denver Language School, as advisor to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and as Colorado’s representative on WICHE’s Western Alliance for Community College Academic Leaders.

Prior to moving to Colorado, Dr. Pirius was the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He enjoys spending time with his family, obstacle course racing, baking, traveling, and playing video games.

Nicole Reaves, Ed.D.

Dr. Nicole Reaves is the provost of Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) Medical Education Campus. As provost, she serves as the chief administrative officer and chief academic officer of the campus. NOVA’s Medical Education Campus is known for being the only specialized campus in the Commonwealth of Virginia dedicated to the education of Nursing and Allied Health professionals with a commitment to workforce development.

Prior to her tenure at NOVA, Dr. Reaves served as the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Wilbur Wright College, the largest of the seven colleges in the City of Chicago District. Under her leadership, the college was selected as one of 13 colleges and universities to partner with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in their Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence project. As a result of the project, the college was able to develop its first equity plan that involved setting and monitoring equity-minded goals and devoting aligned resources.

Dr. Reaves has an extensive career in higher education with almost 25 years of experience.  She has served in a variety of academic and leadership positions including director of research and institutional effectiveness, associate vice president of academic affairs and assistant professor of Allied Health Professions. Dr. Reaves considers herself an equity-minded practitioner. As faculty almost 12 years and currently as an administrator, she has been committed to developing culturally competent strategies that lead to the success of underserved students.

Dr. Reaves holds a doctorate in higher education administration from North Carolina State University, a masters of education and a bachelor of science in public health from East Carolina University.