CCAC school chief is 'engine' of innovation
No one was surprised when Donna Imhoff became a teacher.
Her mother, Rita, recalls how her only daughter would lock the two of them in the bedroom and make her play school for hours at a time.
"She loved it," Rita Imhoff said.
Today, Donna Imhoff is president of two campuses of Community College of Allegheny County. On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh YWCA will honor Imhoff, 53, of the West End with its 2012 Tribute to Women Leadership Award in Education.
CCAC president Alex Johnson, who nominated her for the award, said Imhoff has been a champion of diversity and inclusion.
"She's one of our stars both in the college and the community," Johnson said.
He said Imhoff was the engine behind a safety and security overhaul that brought Behavioral Intervention Teams -- faculty groups taught to identify behavioral issues and steer students to support services before problems happen -- to CCAC.
"We've been working on it for the last two years. The faculty really bought into it. They've done a great job of recognizing students who need help and getting them the support they need to succeed," Johnson said.
Imhoff said the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings drove home the need for a plan.
"I was watching TV and they showed the mother of the boy who had tied a tourniquet on his leg (after the shooting). His mom had been a student of mine at South Campus. Suddenly it became very personal for me," she said.
Imhoff began her career at CCAC in 1985 as a temporary grant-funded counselor.
Over the years, she has been acting assistant director of social service career programs, a career counselor, an academic adviser, professor of psychology and department chair of social and behavioral sciences and education. Along the way, she earned a master's degree in school psychology from Duquesne University and a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.
In the interim, Imhoff did everything from advising mentally challenged students in vocational programs at CCAC to teaching online classes and teaching dual enrollment high school students working to get an associate degree before high school graduation.
She negotiated two union contracts with CCAC as vice president of the school's unit of the American Federation of Teachers before being named president of CCAC's North Campus and West Hills Center in 2008. And in July 2011 she became interim campus president of CCAC's Allegheny Campus and its Homewood-Brushton Center.
John Dziak, president of the American Federation of Teachers at CCAC, said Imhoff's work on the safety and security overhaul is typical of the woman who once sat on his negotiating team.
"She was always engaged and involved. She did a lot of extra work and learned how the college worked," he said.
Her days may be long, but Imhoff said she had great preparation.
"I ran the Pittsburgh marathon twice, first when I was 25, and then when I was 30. Once you make your body run a marathon, you start to realize you can do a lot," Imhoff said.
Despite all she has done, her heart is still in the classroom.
"I loved teaching more than anything I have done. In the classroom, you get to know the students and that's where the fun happens," Imhoff said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.
- 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
- Pittsburgh police motorcycle officer seriously injured in crash
- Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
- Proposed 8-story apartment complex called too tall in North Side’s Garden Theater area
- Allegheny RAD executive director moving on after 2 decades
- 2 men wounded in Hill District drive-by shooting
- Peduto pushes for affordable housing in East Liberty redevelopment
- School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
- Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
- Amtrak still working to add bicycle racks to Western Pa. train routes