New Dean of Professional Development Joins NECC
Don’t ask Linda Meccouri to recount a favorite quote, because as a self-professed quoteaholic she has many – all of which have a commonality – positivity.
Positivity is just one of the countless attributes Meccouri, who holds a PhD in Instructional Technology and Multicultural Teacher Education, carries into her new role as dean of professional development at Northern Essex. She officially took up residence in C206 August 1.
Meccouri comes to Northern Essex from Springfield Technical Community College where she served as professional development coordinator. Previously she was a professor and chair of the computer science and information systems department at Holyoke Community College.
“I come with fresh eyes, an optimistic spirit, and good work ethic,” says the Roxbury native. “…and I was gifted with energy.”
The first in her family to graduate from both high school and college, Linda does not shy away from her street-smart pedigree. Time spent in foster homes gave her friends she calls family as well as the desire to improve her situation through education.
After earning a Master’s degree from Antioch College, she drew on her roots and worked as a community organizer. A colleague recognized Meccouri’s quick, analytical mind and suggested she pursue advanced study in programming. She did and it changed her life. She briefly worked as a programmer analyst and trainer in a large corporation, and was lured to a one-year position teaching at the college level.
“I fell for teaching,” she says. “Teaching is sacred to me. I have enjoyed a rich teaching career.”
For 25 years she trained her energy on teaching, learning, and student development in the under graduate and graduate classroom. After years in front of the class, it felt fitting for Meccouri to segue into professional development and impart her “servant leader philosophy”. Once in, Meccouri fully embraced professional development and enjoyed years working with faculty and staff at STCC and HCC.
It was no coincidence, she says, that several years ago her path and Judith Kamber’s path bisected. Kamber, NECC’s past dean of professional development, was host of the Community College Leadership Academy (CCLA). Meccouri was charged with creating a professional development center. She spoke with Kamber on several occasions taking from those conversations a core idea.
“NECC’s program just made the most sense. I admired the way the college thinks about its faculty and its staff,” she said. “I used Northern Essex as a model to design the professional development center and programs at STCC.”
Meccouri says she felt guided, as she often does, to apply for the NECC position.
“I wasn’t looking to move, but when I read the job description, I could not resist. For me this was a dream job.”
The open forum with NECC staff and faculty reaffirmed this.
“I felt like these could be my people, just like the faculty and staff I have worked with,” she says.
A fan and facilitator of Appreciative Inquiry and Strengths Quest, Meccouri says connectedness is her top strength.
“My wish and my hope is that through connectedness and collaboration Northern Essex continues to serve as a model for others,” she says. “In professional development I never get bored seeing the strengths of others. I’m always enthused to hear other people’s ideas. I love to see the best in people.”
Her own professional best, she says, is her work with faculty and staff creating and facilitating programs that connect them to each other as well as their “own best selves”.
Her personal best, she says, without question has been raising three sons to become “exceptional, compassionate, good men”.
Meccouri looks for the good and finds it in programs and people. Her personal mantra is “presume goodwill”.
“I will work with the college’s goal of expanding the culture of learning across the campus,” she says. “I want to be aware of and sustain all the good work here, and add to that.”
A jazz singer in her younger days, Meccouri is a Latin dancer, especially Salsa (a holdover from her youth). She carries a Superman lunch bag, complete with miniature cape, and proudly describes herself as a “geek at heart”. “I love gadgets as long as they serve me,” she says.
Her favorite apps are Honk, Google Maps, and Evernote and she admits to “living in the cloud”. Meccouri is also a raconteur who can easily shift from tech talk to a tale of King Tiberius to illustrate a point.
But truly, it is helping to facilitate learning that makes her happy.
“When people learn…that is most exciting,” she says.