Lisa Dresdner, Ph.D.
Lisa Dresdner, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Naugatuck Valley Community College
Dr. Lisa Dresdner has served as Chief Executive Officer at CT State's Naugatuck Valley campus (formerly Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC)) since July 2020. Additionally, she has 23 years of successful administrative and teaching experience in Connecticut's community college system. Under her leadership, NVCC has opened new space for the manufacturing program at Western Connecticut State University, renewed four TRIO/Upward Bound grants for Waterbury Public Schools, and expanded early college opportunities with area high schools. A passionate advocate for creating opportunities for students to recognize and reach their potential, Dr. Dresdner supported a newly designed Honors Institute and created the Women of Color Empowerment Collective through a grant by the Connecticut Community Foundation's Women's Giving Circle, now fully supported by the CEO's office. This initiative is designed to increase retention and success for women of color and is led by a member of Dr. Dresdner's cabinet. In spring 2023, after being nominated by NVCC Phi Theta Kappa students, she was nationally recognized as one of 28 Paragon Presidents at the PTK Catalyst National Convention.
Leading both the Waterbury and Danbury campuses through change with compassion, transparency, and integrity, Dr. Dresdner has supported multiple campus-wide professional development workshops, organized annual events that include data storytelling and created opportunities to strengthen community and a sense of belonging. She communicates regularly through weekly written updates, virtual town halls, and in-person forums.
Before becoming CEO, Dr. Dresdner served as the Dean of Academic Affairs at NVCC from 2018-2020 and Associate Dean of the Liberal Arts/Behavioral and Social Sciences Division from 2015-18. Before joining NVCC, Dr. Dresdner was an English professor at Norwalk Community College (NCC) for 15 years. She also directed grant projects as the Center for Teaching and Learning director during this time.
While Academic Dean Dr. Dresdner wrote the college's 2019-2024 Academic Master Plan with the full input and integration of the Academic Council and faculty voices and wrote the NECHE 2018 Progress Report. She helped create and lead "Doing Our PART (Paying Attention to Retention Today!)," a data-informed initiative that integrates a wide range of activities and approaches across all units and divisions of the college with the purpose of increasing retention and successful course completion. Dr. Dresdner also led NVCC's Academic Affairs transition to online-only instruction in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Under her leadership as Associate Dean, NVCC launched its International Center for Arts, whose mission is to connect our students and communities to an expanded world that expresses itself through the creative process.
Dr. Dresdner has helped write and secure grants and led or coordinated their accompanying initiatives. These include NVCC's Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence grant that recently garnered NVCC's fifth Fulbright Scholar, Norwalk Community College's Achieve the Dream grant (Lumina Foundation), the Developmental Education Initiative grant (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and several grants that partnered with other institutions' FIPSE grants (LaGuardia Community College and Kingsborough Community College). She co-founded and obtained a three-year operational grant to create the Fairfield County Women's Center at NCC, serving as its director for one year. She has had primary roles in writing self-study accreditation reports for both NVCC and NCC.
Dr. Dresdner completed leadership training through the Higher Education Resources (HERS) Leadership Institute (2017), the AACC John E. Roueche Future Leaders Institute (2015), and the Chair Academy for Leadership Training and Development (2007).
Her publications include a book chapter on first-year seminars and learning communities, ancillary materials for Andrea Lunsford's writing handbooks and short articles on various women writers. Additionally, she has presented at many national and international conferences on integrative learning, reflective practice, and literary topics.
Active in the community, Dr. Dresdner serves on the United Way of Greater Waterbury Board of Directors, the United Governance Council, the United Way DEI Advisory Board, the Brass City Ballet Board of Directors, and is a member of the Executive Committee and the Governance Board for the Waterbury Arts and Culture Collaborative. She has developed and maintained numerous partnerships with NVCC, including Waterbury Public Schools Step Two Program and their Academic Transitions Program, CAHS (Connecticut Association for Human Services) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Waterbury's City Youth Theater, and the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra.
She and her husband enjoy skiing, hiking, tending to their two large dogs, and visiting their five adult children along the east coast. In her spare time, she reads, gardens, bakes, sews, rides her Peloton, and, when she can get a few days off, socializes guiding eye puppies through Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Dr. Dresdner earned her Ph.D. in English from Loyola University, Chicago, her Master of Arts in English from Boise State University, ID, and her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.