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CBO Barbara Larson on Great Questions, Active Listening, and the Gift of the Community College

CBO Barbara Larson took a winding road into higher education administration. She landed in her executive vice president for finance and administrative services role at Johnson County Community College through environmental economics and solar manufacturing. But the allure of the campus was too great to resist, and within a few years, she brought the breadth of her skills to the community college.

“I’ve learned to ask questions when I don’t know, and I hope I’m a good listener,” Larson says. “I work hard to understand other people’s perspectives and attempt to contribute where I can.”

Her mentor experiences drive her leadership style today, having learned from a past president and career journalist the skills of asking thorough questions to understand complex issues. “Change is a challenge anywhere you go.” At the community college however, “we’re better suited to respond quickly in a continuing education environment. That’s an advantage we have because the structures are already there.”


Tadu Yimam

Vice President, Digital Engagement


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