Head of Cayuga Community College in Fulton brings diverse background to the job
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Keiko Kimura, head of the CCC Fulton campus and vice president for Workforce Development and Partnerships, experienced an unexpected route to her current position, which she assumed five years ago.
She helps the school generate partnerships in the community that can develop trained workforce for local openings.
As a member of both the Oswego County and Cayuga-Cortland Workforce Development boards, Kimura is instrumental in helping CCC provide the programs that equip locals with the skills and education they need for “family-sustaining wages,” she said. “That’s transformational for the individual and community.”
She also works to ensure that CCC’s educational offerings do no duplicate those of schools like SUNY Oswego. She also partners with BOCES in Cayuga and Onondaga counties, along with K-12 schools.
Kimura received her doctorate in education at Northern Illinois University, her master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages at Teachers College at Columbia University, and her bachelor’s in biology at McGill University in Canada.
It took her a while to figure out what she wanted to do when she grew up. She thought she would work in STEM as a young person but working in a research lab proved it wasn’t for her.
Her next step was education. Her parents had emigrated to Canada as adults. After graduation from McGill, Kimura wanted to learn more about her Japanese heritage. To make this more affordable, she took a job teaching English in Japan and eventually in New York City. She realized she enjoyed teaching. To continue educating, she earned her master’s.
She taught at a large accounting firm in Chile for three years to satisfy her desire to explore a Latin American country. This experience helped her learn about administering programs.
Kimura started working at a community college in Illinois directing an ESL program.
“I really enjoyed interacting with a diverse group of students,” she said. “When teaching English as a second language, you’re guaranteed to meet people from different cultures.”
The experience also exposed her to the career-building mission of community colleges.
Now at CCC, she wants to position the school as a preferred training provider for the region and as an effective partner in the workforce ecosystem.
In 2023, the Workforce Development Center in the former Cornell Cooperative Extension office on Grant Street in Auburn will bring together resources from CCC, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cayuga Works under one roof to provide essential workforce training for job seekers. Kimura also hopes to establish a manufacturing consortium in Cayuga County.
“The college values the partnership we have with SUNY Oswego, and we continue to work collaboratively to promote pathways from Cayuga to Oswego and vice versa,” she said.
In her spare time, Kimura enjoys hiking and cycling.