Horton completes Community College Policy Fellows Program

Jeff Horton, Northwest Mississippi Community College vice president for Administration and Finance (right) recently completed the Community College Policy Fellows Program (CPFP), a 10-month professional development program sponsored by the Mississippi Community College Board and the Alabama Community College System that focuses on four national program pillars: policy, leadership, networking, and advocacy. Horton was one of 13 Mississippi community college administrators who participated in the program. Pictured with Horton is U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. (Photo submitted)

Northwest Mississippi Community College Vice President for Administration and Finance Jeff Horton was among several community college administrators who recently completed the Community College Policy Fellows Program (CPFP).

Administrators from 14 Alabama community colleges and 13 Mississippi community colleges participated in the program. In addition to Horton, other Mississippi community colleges represented included East Mississippi Community College, Hinds Community College, Holmes Community College, Itawamba Community College, Meridian Community College, Mississippi Delta Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northeast Community College, Coahoma Community College, Pearl River Community College, and the Mississippi Community College Board.

The Community College Policy Fellows Program is a 10-month professional development program sponsored by the Mississippi Community College Board and the Alabama Community College System and directed by Tyson Elbert of AdvocacyBuild, LLC. The curriculum focuses on four national program pillars: policy, leadership, networking, and advocacy. Comparative elements of both state systems are highlighted throughout the program year as well.

“This was a really interesting program and I was happy to be a part of it. We got to talk about community college issues on the federal level, and that was a new perspective for me, to be able to see what issues are across the country and not just Mississippi,” Horton said.

The CPFP cohorts meet throughout the academic year to discuss state and national policies on education and to determine successful ways to advocate on behalf of Alabama and Mississippi college students. The fellowship program culminated in a trip to Washington D.C., for the Washington Advocacy Seminar, enabling the cohorts to meet with education policymakers.

The 2019 Mississippi and Alabama CPFP cohorts focused on three policy issues/requests: (1) Protection of the Federal Pell Grant program, particularly max-Pell and the Pell surplus. Fellows will also request that students be able to use Pell for short-term certificate programs. (2) Second-chance Pell, specifically the passage of the REAL Act, which currently has bipartisan support. (3) New funding commitments ($150 million) for the Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCCTG) to build on the success of the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants (TAACCCT) program.

Horton was particularly interested in the issue of making Pell Grants available for short-term programs. “One example is Northwest’s Commercial Truck Driving program which is an eight-week program. We would like to see a Pell Grant for a program like that. I am very enthusiastic about this issue,” he said.

While in Washington, D.C., the Fellows met with every member of Mississippi and Alabama’s congressional delegations. They also visited the Association of Community College Trustees, the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for American Progress, and the Vera Institute of Justice.

“We had a warm welcome from our Mississippi delegation that included U.S. Representatives Michael Guest, Bennie Thompson and Trent Kelly and Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith. They were very welcoming and gave us a lot of their time. They were great to our group. I was so proud of them,” Horton said.

Horton recently received a letter from Sen. Wicker informing him that after their meeting, Wicker cosponsored the JOBS Act, which would expand Pell Grant eligibility to include short-term training programs.

Horton is a native of Jackson. He attended Hinds Community College and earned his Bachelor and Master in Professional Accountancy from Mississippi State University. He is a Certified Public Accountant. He and his wife, the former Dee Finch are the parents of one girl, Evie and three boys, Jake, Walter and Jack.

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