Garcia looks to deepen Western's connection with community in new leadership role

Contact: Erin Flynn

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Lisa Garcia, director of Western Michigan University's Business Connection, will become the University's interim assistant vice president for community partnerships on June 28.

Garcia has worked in her current role at Western for a decade, dedicated to cultivating and strengthening partnerships between the University and business community while also connecting companies and organizations with talented students and staff.

A portrait of Lisa .


"We have so much talent here," she says. "I see my role as educating the community on what we're doing at Western, what we can do for organizations, connecting them with the right people on campus and finding more ways to partner together."

Garcia was tapped for the community partnerships position after the departure of Kara Wood, who is leaving the University to become executive director of Grand Action 2.0, a business-based private nonprofit organization focused on economic development in Grand Rapids.

"Lisa has a proven track record of fostering relationships that expand the University's impact and provide meaningful experiences for our students," says Jeffrey Breneman, Western's vice president for government relations. "She will be a tremendous asset in helping Western to grow its engagement with community partners and creating opportunities for Broncos to make a difference."

The community aspect is what makes Garcia excited for this new opportunity.

"I'm looking forward to engaging more with our community and strengthening its connection with the University," she says. "It's really about that partnership piece, because no organization or institution does work alone. It's always better to have people with different experiences, different ideas and different perspectives and come together to determine effective solutions."

About Lisa Garcia

Garcia came to Western in 2012 to lead the Business Connection. She is also a co-founder and mentor of BroncoConnect, a student-led marketing agency allowing students to gain work experience with small businesses and nonprofits.

Prior to joining the University, she worked for more than 20 years as an advertising and marketing executive in major markets such as New York, Chicago and Dallas, working with clients from Kellogg’s to Nickelodeon.

She has a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Michigan as well as a master's in advertising from the University of Texas-Austin. Garcia is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in higher education leadership at Western. Her dissertation focuses on Latina leaders at community colleges.

"Lifting up the voices of the Latinx community and providing opportunities for growth and leadership is something that's very close to my heart," says Garcia, who is a member of the Latinx Employee Association as well as co-founder and executive board member for ELLAS, a Latina leadership group in Kalamazoo.

She is also an active leader on campus, serving on steering committees for Western's Center for Inclusion and the University's Strategic Plan, as well as a leader in the community, working as a convener for the WMU and Kalamazoo Literacy Council Advisory Board, organizer and moderator of the Adult Literacy Research and Training Symposium and former governing board member for the Council for the Study of Community Colleges.

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