Harper College

Associate provost among inaugural Aspen Index Impact Fellows

Dr. Claudia MercadoDr. Claudia Mercado, associate provost for Student Affairs at Harper College, has been named to the inaugural class of Aspen Index Senior Impact Fellows, an initiative of the Aspen Institute bringing together more than 90 community stakeholders in a movement to advance the future of youth leadership development.

According to Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just and equitable society, Impact Fellows will advance an urgent agenda focused on the research, interventions and strategies necessary to accelerate the access to, and quality of, youth leadership programs nationally.

The goal of this initiative is to lift youth exposure to high-quality leadership programs above 50% over the next five years.

“I am excited to serve with national thought leaders to create a sense of urgency centered on college students participating in meaningful leadership development,” Dr. Mercado said. “I find this opportunity to be critical in improving the civic responsibility of our students and helping them with workforce skills.”

At Harper, Dr. Mercado’s work focuses on addressing student basic needs, increasing student completion, reducing equity gaps and increasing students' sense of belonging through intentional engagement. In 2019, Dr. Mercado was named an Aspen President Fellow, developing leadership competencies to lead community colleges. Earlier this year, Dr. Mercado was awarded the Community College Professional Award by NASPA, a student affairs organization.

Fewer than 32% of youth under the age of 25 in the United States are exposed to any form of leadership development, the Aspen Institute said in a news release. Evidence shows that youth leadership development is a critical factor for educational persistence, workforce readiness and civic engagement.

In 2022, Aspen Institute named Harper College a top 25 semifinalist for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of community colleges that are achieving high, improving and equitable outcomes for students in college and beyond.

Learn more at aspenindex.org.

Last Updated: 3/21/24