Student Union Building Phoenix College

Office of the President

Dr. Larry Johnson, Jr.

On July 1, 2018, Dr. Larry Johnson began serving as the sixth president of Phoenix College.

Dr. Johnson previously served as the Campus Provost and Chief Academic Officer at St. Louis Community College District (Forest Park campus), a district serving more than 70,000 students and the second largest campus of the district.  As Campus Provost, he championed the implementation of Early College Academies, a partnership with the St. Louis Public School District and the School District of University City.

Prior to working at St. Louis Community College, Dr. Johnson served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Broward College - South Campus; Division Chair for Arts & Sciences and Developmental Education, Student Concerns Officer, and Instructor at Georgia Piedmont Technical College.

He is a member of the Presidents' Round Table, the National Council on Black American Affairs, affiliate councils of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Johnson is actively engaged in national dialogues centered on student retention and completion. He is also a member of the AACC Commission on Colleges Readiness. Additionally, Johnson is the Presidential Representative to the Community College Division of the NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Johnson earned a Doctorate in the Humanities, with an emphasis in English Literature, from Clark Atlanta University, and a Master's Degree in Humanities, with an emphasis in Medieval to Baroque Studies, and a graduate certificate in Institutional Research, from Florida State University. He also earned a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.

Dr. Johnson is the author of several academic articles, presentations and webinars, and an autobiography entitled Memoirs of a Young Black Scholar; Surviving and Coping with Loss.

Dr. Johnson is a mentor for students from diverse backgrounds. He maintains that his purpose in life is to give a voice to the voiceless, in keeping with the words articulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Johnson is an avid reader and is a self-proclaimed “foodie.” He is also a patron of the arts wherein he advocates for the integration of the humanities as a means to embracing humanity.


Dr. Casandra Kakar
Vice President Of Academic Affairs

Dr.Casandra KakarAs a member of the President’s Senior Executive Team for over ten years, Dr. Casandra Kakar directs college instructional and occupational education course offerings to meet a variety of student needs, as well as the training needs of local business and industry. Currently, she provides leadership and serves on the Executive Team of the college’s Higher Learning Commission Open Pathway Model and site visits.  In addition to directing Academic Affairs, she directs Instructional Support departments, grants management, Phoenix College Preparatory Academy, and Title V Program activities. Dr. Kakar supports faculty, department chairs, and other college leadership in the creation and development of new initiatives, e-Learning, developmental education, program review, new curriculum and program development. She is responsible for representing Phoenix College on a variety of Maricopa County Community College District committees and serves as a liaison for partnership opportunities with business and industry, government and educational institutions.

Dr. Kakar has been a member of the Phoenix College community since 1980, serving in various capacities from Applied Business faculty to associate dean. As a residential and adjunct faculty member in the early 1980s and as an adjunct faculty member in the early 1990s, Kakar taught a wide variety of business, marketing and management courses including Merchandising, Principles of Advertising, Principles of Marketing, Introduction to Business, Owning and Operating a Small Business and Total Quality Management.   While serving as the Associate Dean of Continuing Education & Community Service, Dr. Kakar provided assistance to the Dean of Instruction in all areas related to the administration and management of the College’s off-site instructional programs, corporate and government training partnerships.

Her expertise in corporate management includes positions as Vice President of Systems Solutions, Inc., and as a Senior Merchandise Manager/Buyer for J.C. Penney. She holds a BA in management from Texas Tech University, an MBA from Arizona State University, and a doctorate in education from Arizona State University. Dr. Kakar is active within the community and is a member of Phoenix Rotary 100.   


Paul DeRose 
Vice President for Administrative Services

Paul DeRose VP Administrative Services Phoenix CollegePaul DeRose serves as PC’s Vice President for Administrative Services – a position he has held since 2010. 

The Administrative Services division provides customer service for the entire campus – including employees, students, and the external community.   As the chief operating officer for the college, Paul oversees the areas of Budget, Business Services, Human Resources, Information Technology, Operations and Public Safety.  These areas provide support that helps enhance the teaching and learning mission of the college. For example, services include: budget oversight, security, technology support, media services, custodial, grounds, event scheduling, cashiering, procurement, risk management, construction, asset inventory, and human resource services.

Paul has worked within the Maricopa Community College District since 1993 and has worked at Phoenix College since 2000.  During his employment at PC, Paul also worked as an adjunct faculty member in PC’s Business department for 10 years.


Dr. Heather Kruse
Interim Vice President of Student Affairs

Dr. Heather Kruse has served the Maricopa County Community College District for more than 21 years.She currently serves as Dean of Students Affairs at Phoenix College (PC) , a Hispanic Serving Institution, with an annual headcount over 17,000 students.  In this leadership role at Phoenix College, Dr. Kruse provides leadership for enrollment services housed in a “One-Stop” student center, namely, recruitment, admissions and records, academic  advising and transfer services, career services, financial aid, early college programs, student success and retention initiatives, student conduct, and Title IX investigations.  

Dr. Kruse completed her doctorate and master’s degrees in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and her bachelor’s degree in English and Health Promotion/Wellness from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.  Her dissertation investigated the impact and efficacy of a college success course on first-term retention, fall-to-fall persistence, and three-year completion rates.  She is also a contributing author of Developing Non-Hierarchical Leadership on Campus, Case Studies and Best Practices in Higher Education.  Heather has committed her career to improving student outcomes, retention and success, creating inclusive environments, leadership development, and creating healthy academic communities.

Dr. Kruse, a first generation college student raised in rural Wisconsin, now enjoys living in Phoenix, AZ with her husband Craig and two daughters., Olivia and Lila.


Wilbert Nelson, MSW, LCSW
Dean of Arts & Sciences

Wilbert Nelson has been a member of the Phoenix College community since 1994. He currently serves as Dean of Arts & Sciences at Phoenix College.  During his career at Phoenix college, he has served in the capacity of faculty member -- teaching sociology, African-American History and Social Work.  Nelson also pioneered the implementation of our Social Work Program for the college. Additional roles included serving as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, as a liaison for the college with the ASU School of Social Work, and various committees on the campus.   He continues to teach Sociology Courses for the Department of Behavioral Science.

Dean Nelson holds a Bachelor degree in social work from Texas A & M at Commerce and earned a Masters in Social Work with emphasis on Community Organization from Arizona State University. He is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.



Erika Keenan, M.S.
Manager of Public Relations and Marketing

Erika Keenan is the Manager of Public Relations and Marketing for Phoenix College and has 20 years of experience leading marketing teams to success in a variety of industries: education, telecommunications and  technology.  

As an alumni of Valley Leadership (Class 31) and the Hispanic Leadership Institute, she has served on numerous City of Phoenix boards from village planning committees to bike/pedestrian task forces.

Erika holds a Master of Science in Communication from Illinois State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Communication (TV/Radio) from the College of Saint Rose, Albany, NY.

Erika hails from Albany, New York, and has worked and lived in Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Houston, before landing in Phoenix 10 years ago.   She currently lives in Laveen with her husband, son, two birds (Beeker and Pepe) and two dogs (Clementine and T-bah).


Deborah Spotts
Development Director

Deborah Spotts serves as Director of Development at Phoenix College. She oversees philanthropy, alumni and donor relations, and the Phoenix College Alumni Association. Deborah and the Alumni & Development team  cultivate valuable relationships, advocate the

College’s impact in the community, and secure commitments that advance the institution.

Prior to her role at Phoenix College, Deborah worked at Rio Salado College, the University of Maryland University College and Mohave Community College successfully enhancing annual giving and developing strategic marketing, branding and communication plans.

Deborah received her Associate’s degree at Scottsdale Community College, her Bachelor’s degree in public administration at Northern Arizona University, and her Master’s degree in marketing management at the University of Maryland University College Park


Laura Pastor
Community Liaison

Laura Pastor is the Community Liaison at Phoenix College. In this capacity she implements, communicates, coordinates, and administers the community relations activities at Phoenix College with a variety of internal and external communities and partners throughout the local region.

A Phoenix native, Laura is a fifth-generation Arizonan and current member of the Phoenix City Council as well as a current member of the Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board. Laura is the most recent Chair of the Phoenix City Council Parks, Arts, Education & Equality  Laura also chairs numerous City of Phoenix sub committees.

In August 2000, Laura received her Masters of Public Administration.  She resides in Phoenix with her husband, Henry Cotto, a former major league baseball player and minor league coach.  They have four children, Henry Jr., Claudia, Eduardo and Sophia.


Angela C. Genna, MBA

Associate Vice President of Business & Finance

Angela Genna is currently the Associate Vice President of Business & Finance. She has been with Phoenix College since 2006 and has over 30 years of experience in business management.

Angela directs the Business Services division, which includes student financial services, fiscal services, budget, event & fleet management, and auxiliary services. She provides leadership in developing and implementing policies, practices, and procedures that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations.

She earned her Master of Business Administration from Western Governors University and her Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Organizational Studies from Arizona State University.
Angela hails from Long Island, New York. Angela is an active member of the downtown Phoenix community where she currently splits her time between living an urban lifestyle downtown and living in a mountain community in the far Northwest valley. She has four children, three of which proudly live in the Phoenix College community.


Andrew Giddings, M. EdL
Interim Chief Information Officer (CIO) / Associate Vice President of Information Technology

Andrew Giddings, Interim Chief Information Officer (CIO) / Associate Vice President of Information Technology, leads the Information Technology department at Phoenix College.  

Andrew bring 18 years of experience working in Information Technology with 13 years in a higher education setting.  His experience is vast and includes IT strategic planning, customer service, networking, enterprise systems, project management, information security and desktop support.  

Andrew holds a Master's in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, a Bachelor's in Global Business from Arizona State University, and an Associate's from Glendale Community College. 




Maria A. Reyes
Dean of Industry & Public Service

Maria A Reyes - Dean of Industry and Public Affairs - Phoenix College

Maria Reyes has over 25 years of experience ranging from student and academic affairs to institutional development. As Dean of Industry and Public service, as well as an adjunct faculty member, her emphasis is in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations in the STEM disciplines.

One of her many notable career distinctions include being the program director for the Hermanas: Diseña Tu Futuro conference for junior and high school students aiming to increase the number of Latinas in engineering. Additionally, she served on the Engineering Pathways Taskforce for the AZ STEM Initiative, a statewide effort to bring STEM programs to underserved areas and expand outreach.

She is an Arizona native and holds a BSE and MSE in Civil Engineering from Arizona State University and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.


Ralph D. Thompson II
Interim Associate Dean of Student Affairs

Nearing 19 years with Maricopa County Community College District, Ralph Thompson currently serves as the interim Associate Dean of Students at Phoenix College.   

Dean Thompson’s career began in Human Resources and then as a Prospect Researcher in the Maricopa Community College Foundation.He later transitioned to Student Services as the Coordinator of Student Conduct Rights and Responsibilities and then Manager of Student Conduct Rights and Responsibilities at South Mountain Community College. He has also served as the President of Maricopa Council on Black American Affairs (MCBAA), a Maricopa constituency group.

Dean Thompson obtained his Masters of Education from Northern Arizona University, Emphasis on Community Colleges, and Bachelors of Arts from Grand Canyon University in Business Management.  He is married and has two children.


Adrianna Coronel

Adrianna currently serves as Dental Programs Department Chair and Faculty Senate President Elect. Adrianna is a proud graduate of Phoenix College and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene from NAU and a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology also from NAU.







Kory Ambrosich

Kory is Phoenix College Faculty Senate President, representing the residential faculty in Leadership Team discussions in the spirit of Shared Governance.  Her term is from May 2017 to May 2019.  Kory has taught mathematics as residential faculty at Phoenix College for 21 years. 

Students are the best part of her job.  Helping students build confidence in their math abilities on the way to reaching their college goals is the highlight of her workday! 

Kory grew up in the nearby Willo neighborhood, long before it had a name, and she used to roller skate on PC's grounds on the weekends, because it had great sidewalks and low traffic.    She's raising three kids who will be PC alumni someday, and is making plans to have a retirement career in ceramics, but not for a long time yet.