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Pair from Northeast Being Considered for Western Region Awards

Pair from Northeast Being Considered for Western Region Awards

NORFOLK, Neb. – Two Northeast Community College officials who have distinguished themselves in the Nebraska Community College Association are being considered for awards in the Association of Community College Trustees’ (ACCT) Western Region.

Dirk Petersen of Norfolk, who was presented with the NCCA’s 2022 Governor’s Award, and Lisa Guenther of Norfolk, who earned the NCCA’s 2023 Faculty Member Award for Northeast, are being considered for similar awards at the Western Region level. ACCT’s Western Region covers 10 states and five Canadian provinces and territories. 

The ACCT awards program recognizes the tremendous contributions made by faculty members, trustees, equity programs, chief executive officers, and professional board staff members. Those honored at the regional level advance to the national level in their respective categories. 

This year’s ACCT Leadership Congress will take place Wednesday, Oct. 23, to Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Seattle Convention Center. The regional-level awardees are the sole contenders for the national-level ACCT Association Awards.

In winning his award in 2022, it was noted that Petersen understands the role community colleges play in higher education. He has a storied resume working in the steel industry and has served on a several boards for his expertise in economic development and transportation matters across Nebraska. Petersen is the type of individual that organizations seek out to serve on their behalf as they work to better their communities and attract new business and industry to their regions.  

Several years ago, Northeast developed a workforce development relationship with the Nucor (Steel) Detailing Center in Norfolk. Petersen was actively involved in recruiting Nucor to locate its new facility in Norfolk; fully understanding the drafting program at Northeast would provide a pipeline of talent to the new center. 

With approximately 40 years of industry experience, Petersen is an invaluable resource when it comes to business, industry, and manufacturing issues, to not only the board, but to the college as a whole.  

Guenther always has the best interests of students in mind. Decades of teaching have taught her that students learn in different ways, so she structures her classes to meet all learning styles. She piloted the hyflex delivery method for Northeast during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has continued offering her courses as hyflex so students may attend in person, virtually, online, or in any combination. 

Guenther has led Northeast’s pioneering efforts to address the childcare shortage in the region and Nebraska. She is a regular attendee at training conducted by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, an organization focused on improving quality childcare through research, practice, policy and outreach. 

She has testified before the Nebraska Legislature on successful legislation that establishes apprenticeships and improves working conditions within the industry. She is always one of the first to volunteer, sharing her knowledge and experience as well as a genuine smile. 

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Lisa Guenther, early childhood instructor, and Dirk Petersen, a Northeast board member, are being considered for faculty and trustees awards, respectively, in the ACCT’s Western Region. (Northeast Community College)