Jonathan Breeden was surprised when the Johnston County Board of Education selected him to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees for Johnston County Community College representing the county’s public schools.
An attorney from the Cleveland community, he put in his application, hoping to be picked, but there were a lot of unknowns.
“You don’t know who is going to apply and it’s a big county,” he said. “But the school board elected me and I’m happy to do it.”
Breeden began his term July 1 and was sworn in on July 13. He said so far he’s attended one board of trustee meeting and has met with community college leaders to gain an understanding of all the programs offered by the college and all the different challenges the community college faces.
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“I believe that the community college system in North Carolina is an economic driver of the state and I believe that system is very important,” Breeden said. “I believe Johnston Community College is one of the main economic engines of Johnston County and I wanted to be able to assist in the continuing success that is has had.”
Breeden is the only member from the Cleveland community serving on the board. He will serve a four-year term.
“All the communities deserve a voice,” he said. “We have a satellite campus that does a good job serving our community. I want to make sure those programs that are based in the Cleveland community will go strong and raise awareness that (the programs) are there for people to come and take.”
Breeden’s path to becoming a board of trustee member wasn’t exactly smooth, however.
Johnston school leaders were split 4-3 in June over who they wanted to represent the public schools on the Johnston Community College Board of Trustees.
Three board members voted in favor of Polly Lamberth, a retired manager for the U.S. Department of Agriculture from Smithfield. And some were critical of Breeden.
Like board member Butler Hall.
Hall said being an attorney is not a requisite to serving as a community college trustee. “We don’t have an attorney on this board, and I think we function very efficiently,” Hall said.
Hall said he thinks it’s important to have a minority serve on the board of trustees. That’s one of the reasons he nominated Lamberth, who is black.
“She is very much a community person and is open for anyone to talk with,” board member Johnson said. “She’s very interested in working with the school system in helping our children bridge the gap to the community college system.”
But the majority voted for Breeden.
Board member Donna White said Breeden’s experience as an attorney could serve as a back-up to the trustees’ attorney.
“He is the most detail-oriented person I think I’ve ever worked with,” White said.
In addition to serving on the board of the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, Breeden sits on the Greater Cleveland Athletic Association board of directors.
The Board of Education gets to appoint four of the 13 members on the community college’s board of trustees, which includes one student representative.
The governor also appoints four members and the county commissioners do as well.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104