Parker takes over as new NJCAA executive director
Dr. Christopher J. Parker will replace Mary Ellen Leicht this summer as the executive director of the NJCAA.
Parker will be only the fourth director of the governing body for junior college athletics, and is the first outside hire.
Parker is the vice president for enrollment management, marketing and public relations at Pfeiffer University, a private NCAA Division II school in Misenheimer, North Carolina, near Richfield. Before that, he was the first athletic director at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia, the first community college in the state to join the NJCAA.
He built that school’s athletic program from its original three sports to 12 before leaving for Pfeiffer in December 2015.
“I am humbled and honored to serve as the next NJCAA Executive Director,” Parker said in a release Wednesday announcing his hiring.
“I want to personally thank the executive committee for entrusting me with this opportunity. In addition, I want to thank Mary Ellen Leicht and the staff at the national office for their leadership and excellence over the past few decades. I have huge shoes to fill and we will continue to progress forward.”
Leicht, who has been the NJCAA executive director since 2009, is retiring after this school year — the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series later this month will be her final national championship.
“I’m looking forward to working with him and teaching him the history of Grand Junction and the Junior College World Series,” JUCO Chairman Jamie Hamilton said.
George Killian was the first executive director of the NJCAA, from 1968-2004, with his assistant, Wayne Baker, taking over from 2004-2009. When Baker resigned, Leicht was promoted from assistant director, the first woman to become the executive director of a national collegiate athletic association.
When Leicht announced her retirement in August of 2016, the NJCAA presidents council launched a national search to find her successor.
“Dr. Parker came to the top of the list due to his background in community college athletics and NJCAA experience,” NJCAA President Bryce Roderick said in the release from the NJCAA. “Chris is a strong advocate of students and has a track record of success in obtaining financial partners for his institutions. The NJCAA Executive Committee looks forward to starting this new NJCAA era with Dr. Parker.”
Parker, who will begin his position in Colorado Springs in July, spent 10 years at Patrick Henry and had several positions after being the athletic director. He was the assistant dean, and then the dean of academics before becoming the school’s vice president for institutional advancement, campus life and athletics.