During my career in higher education, I have learned so much from the students who come to our colleges with big dreams, but often limited resources. With dedicated faculty and staff, we can help them reach their goals, support their families, and give back to their communities. I am excited to play a role in that process.
Joe Garcia, Chancellor
Joe Garcia brings demonstrated leadership and commitment to advancing higher education initiatives and access to the Colorado Community College System.
Community colleges support a diverse range of students: refugees, working parents, career-changers, and learners who aren’t sure of their next steps. CCCS Chancellor Garcia was one of the latter, taking introductory law classes at a local community college in Virginia while working as a truck driver. The experience launched his career as an attorney and sparked a lifelong mission to improve higher education access and outcomes.
"My involvement with the United Mexican American Students organization at the University of Colorado, and with the Chicano law student organization at Harvard Law School, energized and motivated me as a student while also helping me develop an interest in and focus on equity and representation in postsecondary institutions," he writes in this reflection. "That interest has never waned."
Read Chancellor Garcia's biography
Joe Garcia is the Chancellor of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). As CCCS Chancellor, Garcia leads the state’s largest system of higher education, which serves over 113,000 students annually at 13 colleges and 35+ locations across Colorado.
Garcia brings demonstrated leadership and commitment to advancing higher education initiatives and access through various roles in both the public sector and in higher education.
Garcia currently serves on the Boards for the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI). He is the chair of the Education & Training Committee (E & T) for the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC). He was also appointed by the Governor as the representative of the Department of Education for the Business Experiential Learning (BEL) Commission.
Prior to his role at CCCS, Garcia served two years as President of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (“WICHE”) from June 2016 to June 2018. WICHE is an interstate compact created to provide access to, and improve the quality of, higher education opportunities for residents of the western United States.
From 2011 to 2016, he served as the Lt. Governor of Colorado and as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. During his time as Lt. Governor, Garcia focused on increasing equity in outcomes for all students, particularly those from low income backgrounds and communities of color. For nearly a decade, Garcia served as President at both a four-year and two-year institution. From 2006 to 2010, he was President of Colorado State University-Pueblo, which was named the 2008 Outstanding Member Institution by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Under his leadership, CSU-P saw enrollment increase dramatically, as well as, public-private partnerships and private funding. Garcia also raised private funds to build a stadium and start a football program that won the NCAA Division II National Championship in its 7th year in existence.
From 2001 to 2006, Garcia was President of Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado’s second largest community college. During his time at PPCC, he was twice recognized as President of the Year by Colorado students and several minority and student focused organizations, such as the NAACP and Phi Theta Kappa.
Garcia’s previous public service positions included serving as a member of the Cabinet of Governor Roy Romer and as a White House appointee under President Bill Clinton. He was the first Hispanic partner in the 100-year history of Denver based Holme Roberts & Owen where he focused on public education law.
Garcia earned his Juris Doctorate (1983) and completed the John F. Kennedy School of Government program at Harvard University, and received his Bachelor of Science in International Business (1979) from University of Colorado at Boulder.
Garcia has four grown children and is married to Dr. Claire Oberon Garcia, the Dean of Faculty at Colorado College.