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Welcome to Northeast from President Barrett

Dr. Barrett

Thank you for making Northeast Community College your destination to meet your educational and career goals. Northeast Community College is dedicated to the success of students and the region it serves. Our vision is to empower every person in our region to achieve their academic and workforce development goals by championing student success, practicing continuous improvement, being mindful stewards of our resources, building partnerships and collaborations, and creating an inclusive, diverse culture. We believe education is instrumental in improving lives and should be accessible and affordable to everyone; whether you're a traditional student or a non-traditional student, a first-generation college student or a student from an underserved community. We embrace you; we welcome you.

You will find our programming to be rigorous, engaging, and relevant as we empower you to develop new skills, learn new technology, and gain the knowledge necessary to succeed. We have strong partnerships throughout the service region and beyond which ensures our programs are aligned with employer needs and the latest workforce tools and trends. These are some of the many reasons that Northeast has been recognized nationally for our successes inside and outside the classroom.

Whether you are starting college for the first time, returning to the classroom, or here to take a course to advance in the workplace, you will appreciate the range of programming and services available to address your needs.

I thank you for choosing to become a part of Northeast Community College and we look forward to supporting you on your journey.

Leah A. Barrett, Ed.D., M.B.A.

Senior Leadership

Dr. Barrett

Leah A. Barrett, Ed.D., M.B.A.


Wyoming native Dr. Leah A. Barrett is the president of Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska. Barrett earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wyoming. She holds a Doctor of Education in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Immediately prior to leading Northeast, she served as the vice president of student affairs at the Northeast Wyoming Community College District in Sheridan. Barrett also served as the associate vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at the SUNY Brockport (State University of New York) from 2008-2016. She has also been employed by Arizona State University, Boise State University, University of Wyoming, and Valparaiso University since first entering higher education in 1992. President Barrett provides vision for the college in its 20-county service area while leading and directing the planning and operations of all aspects of Northeast programming and services.

Charlene Widener, Ph.D.

Charlene Widener, Ph.D.

Vice President of Educational Services

In her role as vice president, Dr. Widener will serve as the chief academic officer at Northeast by providing leadership and strategic direction for the Educational Services division, including: program development and assessment; teaching and learning assessment; faculty appointment, professional development, and evaluation; and development of academic procedures. She will oversee all academic divisions in addition to workforce development, academic outreach, and teaching and learning.

Before coming to Northeast, Dr. Widener served as vice president of academic affairs and student learning at North Iowa Area Community College for three and half years where she designed and managed robust program review and assessment processes, designed and managed campus-wide guided pathways initiatives, served as a Campus Title IX Investigator, managed the Perkins grant, led Title III grant application team, and developed the faculty handbook and faculty mentor handbook. Prior to moving to Iowa, Dr. Widener served as a full-time faculty member, program director, and accreditation coordinator at Hutchinson Community College for 17 years. While there, she helped establish the faculty senate, served as the first faculty senate president, and developed and taught a leadership academy.

Dr. Widener is a proud community college graduate who holds a master's degree from Kansas State University and Ph.D. from Mizzou. Currently, she serves as a Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship Reviewer and Team Chair/Peer Reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission.

Amanda Nipp

Amanda Nipp, M.Ed.

Vice President of Student Services

As vice president of student services, Amanda Nipp oversees the areas of athletics, student life, admissions and registration, marketing and recruitment, financial aid, and student success. The student services division supports students throughout their college career from admissions application to graduation and beyond, to assistance with transfer to a four-year college, or assistance with their job search. Nipp, a native of northeast Nebraska, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Master of Science in Higher Education from the University of Kansas.

She has 20 years of experience in higher education and began her career working in the TRIO Student Support Services program at Chadron State College. She has been employed by Northeast Community College for just over 10 years, serving as director of early entry (dual credit) programs and dean of enrollment management prior to her current role. Nipp was a member of the board of Bright Horizons, the regional domestic violence and sexual assault program, and served as president. Nipp is currently secretary/treasurer of the North Fork Transit Board of Directors, representing Northeast student interests in public transportation plans in the Norfolk community.

Dr.  Kruse

Tracy Kruse, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Vice President of Development and External Affairs

As vice president of development and external affairs, Dr. Tracy Kruse oversees the college's resource development, grants, alumni, and state and federal governmental relations activities as well as the management of Lifelong Learning Center operations and event management services. Additionally, she serves as the executive director of the Northeast Community College Foundation and works directly with a 21-member Foundation Board of Directors. Kruse leads a division that has raised over $40 million for college programs, scholarships, and facilities since joining the team in 2013.

She has 25 years of experience in marketing, communications, fundraising and advocacy. Prior to joining Northeast, she was employed at Northeast Iowa Community College as executive director of external relations. Kruse earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Communications, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Northern Iowa and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Leadership and Policy from Iowa State University.

Kruse serves in a number of volunteer capacities, including as executive director of the Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement; vice president of finance and board member of the National Council for Workforce Education; and is a board member for the U.S./Canada Regional Council for CASE (The Council for Advancement and Support of Education). Locally, she serves on the governmental affairs council for the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce, is the vice chair of the Nebraska Chamber education policy council and is a committee member of the Norfolk Area Community Foundation Fund.

Scott Gray

Scott A. Gray, J.D.

Vice President of Administrative Services and General Counsel

As vice president of administrative services and general counsel at Northeast Community College, Scott oversees all finance and facility areas, as well as all legal affairs of the college. Scott was a private practice attorney in Norfolk, Nebraska, for 25 years prior to his role at Northeast. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Scott's volunteer work has included serving in various capacities on the Northeast Community College Foundation, Battle Creek Public School Foundation, Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce, and Norfolk Noon Optimist Club. Scott is also a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association and the Nebraska Coaches Association.

Jessica Dvorak

Mike Walkowiak, M.A.

Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development

As vice president of human resources and organizational development, Mike provides strategic leadership to the development and implementation of data-informed strategies and practices in human resources that are consistently informed by the current and aspirational student experience in the context of our mission, vision and values. This involves such areas as employee relations, labor relations, compensation and benefits, payroll, talent recruitment, and professional development programming. Mike has 30 years of industry human resource experience prior to joining Northeast Community College. Mike holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Arts in Business: Personnel and Labor Relations, both from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Outside of work, Mike enjoys spending time with family. Mike also enjoys volunteering at his church and helping organizations serve the underprivileged.

David Cone

David Cone

Chief Information Officer

As the Chief Information Officer, David Cone oversees the college’s technology operations, including the help desk, information security, institutional data and reporting, enterprise applications, and infrastructure. The Technology Services Division provides support, management, and leadership for technology integration and utilization across all campus divisions and priorities.

Before serving in his current role, David worked primarily within enterprise applications teams leading projects and initiatives to support, maintain, and innovate enterprise ERP, CRM, and web solutions. David excels in providing project management and technical expertise for various application and platform implementation and integration projects, fostering strong relationships and collaboration with stakeholders, users, and vendors.

David holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Sioux Falls with majors in Secondary Mathematics Education, Mathematics, and Computer Science. Outside of his professional roles, David has also served as an adjunct instructor, held various positions in education and residence life, coaches youth sports, enjoys keeping up with a busy family schedule, and loves living in rural Nebraska.

Jerry Guenther

Jerry Guenther

Director of Public Relations

Jerry Guenther began as the director of public relations at Northeast Community College in August 2023. Jerry is responsible for developing and executing public relations activities for the institution. Prior to joining Northeast, Guenther worked more than 33 years for the Norfolk Daily News, rising to newsroom editor. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from the College of Journalism and a bachelor of science degree from the College of Business Administration, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Guenther said he feels blessed to work at Northeast. He has served on various boards from the Norfolk Area Good Neighbors to the Liberty Centre. Outside of work, Guenther enjoys spending time with family.

Lindsay Spiegel

Lindsay Spiegel

Director of Institutional Effectiveness

Lindsay has worked at Northeast Community College since February of 2010 in various roles and most recently as the director of institutional effectiveness. This position works directly with the president to execute the mission and vision of the college through organizational development and implementation of the strategic plan, provides vision and oversight in administrative assessment and continuous improvement efforts, coordinates strategic initiatives and special projects, and serves as the assurance coordinator for regional accreditation. Lindsay has led and contributed to many projects, committees, and workgroups throughout her tenure at Northeast Community College providing a vast background on the programs and services provided at the college. She earned an Associate of Arts in Business Administration from Northeast Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Wayne State College.

Diane Reikofski

Diane Reikofski

President's Executive Assistant
Diane began working at Northeast Community College in February 1995. As the president's executive assistant, a position she has held since December 1998, she is responsible for providing comprehensive executive support to the college president and serves as the primary point of contact for internal and external constituents. In addition, Reikofski serves as the recording secretary for the Northeast Community College Board of Governors. She earned an associate of arts degree from Northeast Community College.

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Contact Us

Contact the Office of the President at (402) 844-7055 or