GC Leaders Continue to be Tapped for State Positions

Garrett College may be Maryland’s smallest community college, but it has an outsized role within the Maryland Association of Community Colleges’ affinity groups leadership.

Chris Painter, GC’s director of campus facilities and capital projects, took over July 1 as chair of MACC’s Facilities Planners Council. As Painter enters, GC Dean of Business and Finance Dallas Ouellette exits as chair of MACC’s Business Officers affinity group. Julie Yoder, GC’s dean of continuing education and workforce development, is also a recent chair of MACC’s continuing education affinity group.

“Garrett College definitely punches above its weight on the statewide level,” said GC President Dr. Richard Midcap, who serves on MACC’s Executive Committee. “We clearly have talented leaders who have fantastic statewide reputations. That’s a testament to the leadership team we’ve built here.”

Painter was recently elected facilities planners chair despite just 18 months in his position.

“That just shows you how quickly Chris has earned the respect of his peers,” Midcap said of Painter, a former air marshal and federal administrator who moved to McHenry full-time in 2018 with his wife, Heidi.

Midcap said Painter quickly proved himself during a “baptism of fire” after joining GC in December 2022. In addition to closing out the Performing Arts Center construction, he had to deal with a series of water line breaks during a holiday freeze.

“As soon as we found the water line break, Chris was right on campus,” said Midcap. “And when his staff was clearing snow during that same time period, he was right on a plow.”
“I want to make sure a small college such as ours has a voice,” said Painter of his primary reason for accepting the facility planners’ position. “This will also give me an opportunity to understand state processes better so I can best serve Garrett College.”

Ouellette, like Painter, underwent similar early tests after becoming dean in February 2020.

“We were, frankly, right in the middle of a fiscal crisis – like many other colleges at that time,” recalled Midcap. “Dallas immediately took on a leadership role in helping us not only address that situation, but set the College up for long-term fiscal sustainability. That’s a lot to ask for from a brand-new dean.”

Ouellette said she saw the chair role as “an opportunity for my career development and increasing my understanding of the facets of finance for community colleges.”

“For the MACCBO affinity group to be successful, we must continue to work together on issues that impact community colleges,” said Ouellette.

“My biggest accomplishment as chair was to continue to strengthen the group in those collaborative efforts. This was especially important in this year’s challenging budget cycle,” said Ouellette, referring to state cuts to the community colleges’ FY25 budgets.

Midcap said the election of Yoder – a Northern Garrett High graduate who started at GC in 1994 – to leadership of the continuing education affinity group was not a surprise.

“Julie is one of the most experienced workforce development professionals in the state,” said Midcap. “And she did a fantastic job in that role.”

“It is a great leadership development experience, as well as an opportunity to form strong connections with our state partners,” said Yoder.

Yoder said she thought her peers “gained a greater appreciation, and perhaps respect, for the smaller schools” during her tenure as chair.

It was under Yoder’s leadership that her affinity group was successful in obtaining the Workforce Development Sequence Scholarship, a Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) program that expanded scholarship opportunities for students seeking workforce training.

Midcap, who served two terms as chair of MACC’s student affairs affinity group before coming to Garrett, said he expects to see more Garrett College administrators moving into MACC affinity group leadership roles in the coming years.

“The College has done an incredible job of hiring great people for upper-level executive roles,” said Midcap. “My prediction is you’re going to see more Garrett College administrators in key MACC roles as the years go by. And that’s a huge benefit for Garrett College because it does create better awareness of challenges small community colleges are facing today.”