Bob Obrohta, executive director of the Tennessee College Access and Success Network (TCASN), received the Executive Leadership Award of Excellence at NCAN’s 23rd annual national conference today in Pittsburgh.
The Executive Leadership Award of Excellence recognizes the dedication and hard work of an individual serving as a college access program’s executive director, president, or as a member of its board of trustees or directors.
Bob Obrohta founded the Tennessee College Access and Success Network, an NCAN member organization based in Nashville, in 2010 and has served as its executive director ever since. The organization’s mission is to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential and foster a college-going culture across the state.
TCASN was initially funded by a Lumina Foundation for Education grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and in its second year, it received Race to the Top funds. As a result of Bob’s hard work and that of his staff, the organization is now sustained through philanthropic and other funding streams.
During his time at TCASN, Bob has supervised several successful programs, such as the TalentED Project, which helps college access professionals and the students they serve find colleges and universities that are a good academic, financial, and social fit. In 2012, he helped pilot a math intervention program in four rural counties in East Tennessee that helped students with low ACT math scores complete college remedial math courses while still in high school. Today, that program, now known as SAILS (Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support), is offered to thousands of Tennessee high school students.
Beyond TCASN, Bob has provided leadership on grant funding, professional development, and advocacy to other individuals and organizations within the college access profession. His efforts have helped support initiatives that have distributed almost $2 million in grants, trained thousands of college access professionals, and helped more than 60,000 students and families.
Prior to establishing TCASN, Bob founded Oasis College Connection, the first college counseling center focused on supporting low-income and first-generation students in Middle Tennessee. Throughout his career in the higher education access field, some of the other programs and organizations Bob has worked with include Upward Bound at Beloit College, GEAR UP at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, and the Ayers Foundation.
For the 2018 Executive Leadership Award of Excellence, Bob’s organization will receive $1,000 in support of a new, one-time scholarship to be made in his honor. The award was presented by Jamie Sears, NCAN board member and head of Community Affairs & Corporate Responsibility at UBS Americas. Past winners of this award include:
2017: Tim Herron, President, Degrees of Change, Tacoma, WA
2016: Austin Buchan, Executive Director, College Forward, Austin, TX
2015: Kim Mazzuca, 10,000 Degrees, San Rafael, CA
2014: Brandy Johnson, Michigan College Access Network, Lansing, MI
2013: Faith A. Sandler, Executive Director, Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
2012: Nicole Farmer Hurd, Ph.D., Founder & Executive Director, College Advising Corps, Chapel Hill, NC
2011: Bonnie Sutton, Executive Director, Access College Foundation, Norfolk, VA
2010: Nancy Leopold, Executive Director, CollegeTracks, Bethesda, MD
2009: Monica Montenegro, Executive Director, East Bay Consortium / California Student Opportunity Assistance Program, Oakland, CA
2008: Virginia "Ginny" Donohue, Executive Director, On Point for College, Syracuse, NY
2007: Andrea Cockrun, Chief Executive Officer, The Fulfillment Fund, Los Angeles, CA