LCC Announces Four Finalists for President


The Board of Trustees of Lower Columbia College (LCC) is pleased to announce the selection of four finalists to be considered for the next college president: Chato Hazelbaker, Roman Hernandez, David Pelkey, and Matt Seimears. The successful candidate will replace outgoing LCC President Chris Bailey, who is retiring in January after more than 12 years at the college.

The finalists were selected following a national search and rigorous review process conducted by the LCC Presidential Search Committee. The committee, led by Liz Cattin (Chair of the LCC Board of Trustees), dedicated significant time and energy to reviewing applications and interviewing semi-finalists.

Candidates will visit campus on October 30 and 31 and participate in numerous activities, including community forums.

Community Forum Schedule

The forums, all occurring in the Laufman Lecture Hall in the Health and Science Building (HSB 101), are open to the public.

October 30, 2023

12:15 - 1:15 pm: Roman Hernandez

4:00 - 5:00 pm: Chato Hazelbaker

October 31, 2023

12:15 - 1:15 pm: David Pelkey

4:00 - 5:00 pm: Matt Seimears

About the Finalists

Dr. Chato Hazelbaker is the current President of Northland Pioneer College (NPC), a non-tribal Native American-Serving institution (NASNTI) serving over 3,000 students in Arizona. Geographically, NPC is the second largest community college district in the nation with nine locations, including three on tribal nations.  During his tenure NPC developed a new strategic plan, expanded facilities and academic programs, and reversed a ten-year enrollment decline. Hazelbaker has held positions in Washington, Minnesota, and Montana, including 5 years at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. Last year, Hazelbaker completed the Aspen Institute’s New Presidents Fellowship.


Mr. Román D. Hernández, A.S., B.S., J.D., is a senior executive leader with a deep-rooted passion for education and giving back to his community. He is a former United States Air Force Captain, has served on the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Board of Directors, is a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Portland Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and a former National President of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), a voluntary, nationwide bar association that represents the interests of 100,000 Hispanic attorneys, judges, law students, and paralegals throughout the United States. Mr. Hernández currently serves as the Office Managing Partner of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders, LLP’s Portland office, and serves on the Oregon State University’s Board of Trustees as Vice-Chair of the Finance and Administration Committee, bringing nearly 20 years of experience in higher education.


For over 25 years, Dr. Dave Pelkey has served as a visionary, collaborative, and equity-focused leader with an unquestionable commitment to increasing successful outcomes for WA State’s community and technical college students. Dave’s experience spans across four different community and technical colleges in WA State, including executive level roles at South Puget Sound Community College and Renton Technical College where he led extensive strategic planning efforts and college-wide reform initiatives culminating in national recognition as a Top 10 recipient for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence in 2015 (RTC) and 2023 (SPSCC). Dave has implemented critical student success interventions, including the Guided Pathways framework, resulting in increased retention and completion rates of low-income, first-generation students, and students of color. Dave has collaborated with multiple business, industry, legislative, international, and community groups to create partnerships, resulting in enrollment growth and additional fiscal investments. In addition, he provided leadership and support for SPSCC’s recently completed $13 million student success campaign.


Matt Seimears, Ph.D., a first-generation college student, entered the workforce after graduating high school as a MIG/TIG Welder, building and welding dust control equipment to keep milling operations clean. He attended Butler Community College, later transferring to Pittsburg State University, earning a Bachelor's Degree. He taught inner-city second and third-grade ESOL students, eighth-grade ESOL Science, and rural ninth-grade and coached high school wrestling for fourteen years. He earned his Master's Degree from Wichita State University, a Bachelor's Degree from Newman University, a Ph.D. from Kansas State University, and taught as an adjunct at Cowley Community College for six years. He worked at Emporia State University (2004-2019) as an Instructor/Academic Advisor, Professor, Associate Department Chair, and Department Chair. He became the Dean of the College of Education at Eastern Oregon University (EOU) in 2019 and currently serves as the Interim Provost at EOU since 2022.