5 questions for Larry Keen
Larry Keen has been in North Carolina for sixteen years as a leader at the North Carolina Community College System. Previous roles include vice president for workforce and economic development, and he’s been president of Fayetteville Technical Community College since 2007.
“I have been in North Carolina for sixteen years in leadership roles for the North Carolina Community College System, as the vice president for workforce and economic development and most recently as the fourth president of Fayetteville Technical Community College.
It has been my privilege in North Carolina and Oklahoma to serve in roles that made a significant connection between the benefits of education and training to support the needs for the current and future workforces. On the national and international scales, it continues to be one of the most important elements for thoughtful and purposeful growth and development of both the economy and society at large.
It is a joy to continue to be a part of Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation and the NC Southeast Regional Economic Development Partnership to influence the direction and prosperity that is possible in our region and in North Carolina. The North Carolina Community College System is a significant player in addressing the needs for new and expanding businesses and stimulating the development of new entrepreneurial growth and refinement of existing small business growth and development is both rewarding and sobering when one considers the importance of doing the right things right each time we perform our collective missions.
Finally, it is important and unique in our state/country to have the benefits provided to the businesses and people by the North Carolina Military Business Center in a wide variety of services conceptualized and delivered almost anywhere the needs are in North Carolina. At the end of the day it is our people, collaborative resources and vision that will propel all of us to a more promising future state of affairs, and I am blessed to be a part of it all.”
What do you like best about your job?
It is the people with whom I have the opportunity and privilege to work with. It is seeing the growth in students who come to us from many different backgrounds and circumstances that realize they can become more, and they can benefit from their work and dedication to the educations and training. It is connecting them to further education and/or workplace opportunities that matter the most.
What inspires you?
My family, friends, coworkers and citizens of our community and state. There are so many meaningful stories being written each day in so many ways that one could not be but inspired to see the journeys and the people that overcome what seems to be insurmountable odds.
We see that in the lives of our military personnel and the families for whom they are responsible. They ask for little but provide enormous services to us all. It is the medical professionals who ply their skills and compassion in the delivery of health care services in all of their respective forms to heal. It is the business owner who takes a chance on an idea then develops it and builds it so that it meets their needs but also contributes to the employment of others and the growth of the economy.
In summary, it is the people of our communities, states and nation who work, strive for and achieve a myriad of things as they make their paths forward and they typically do so with a smile and an anticipation for a better tomorrow. Those who have the courage and stamina to overcome the intermittent challenges and barriers that stand in the way deserve great respect and admiration because of their respective abilities to inspire us all.
Who should we be paying attention to?
To each other and those leaders that are charting the pathways to the future. We need to listen, think and respond or create the vernacular for communication that takes it to a higher level than it appears to be today. This idea applies to political leaders, organizational leaders and others with the idea that we are all better when we work together. I am still a believer in the American Dream, and it is alive and well today as it was in the past. The stage may be different, but therein is the difference and the excitement. Our task is to engage each other with respect and don’t violate the sacred principles and freedom that have come at such a high cost provided by so many. Listen to both sides of an argument, and based upon conviction and understanding make decisions that reflect the character of who we are as North Carolinians and Americans.
What was your biggest challenge this week?
I had to terminate someone who was dishonest. Regardless of the purposes, the investigation and the outcome it is always difficult for me to reconcile. However, I believe that if we are to reinforce a positive work environment with appropriate accountability, we need to do what we need to do effectively. This is a part of the job I really dislike but, at times, it comes with the territory. Most of the time we are able to celebrate the accomplishments and the victories in so many battles that lead people to greater opportunities.
Favorite vacation spot?
I enjoy so much of the United States and especially North Carolina. My favorite spot is around West Jefferson on the New River and in the mountains. We love to kayak, hike and see what this beautiful country has to offer. As a native Floridian, Oklahoman and now North Carolinian, I have been fortunate to travel worldwide and enjoy Germany, Spain, France, Hong Kong and a number of countries in South America. They are as diverse and interesting as any place in the world but nothing, in my opinion, surpasses what we have in our own country. I love our people, our land and our country. With all of its beauty and, at times, its challenges, it is still ours to cherish, protect and enjoy.