(Gentile went to work for a consulting firm that works with major philanthropies, then worked for two different Girl Scout councils in the Atlantic area and later for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C.) ... Moved back to New Jersey because of family issues, and that’s how I got to Atlantic Cape Community College.
Did you just call up the college’s president and say you wanted to work there?
I had been an adjunct instructor in the business department. He (the college president) told me about a program that had just, the word he used was “imploded,” and could I help him out. So, I said, “Sure, I’ll give you six weeks,” and I was there for 14 years because the mission truly captured my heart. I learned that a community college makes transformational changes for folks who might not otherwise have access to that opportunity.
How did you wind up becoming a community college president?
About seven years ago, I took a program called chair leadership academy that my president nominated me to attend. And I met Lane Glenn, who is now the president of Northern Essex Community College. ... I really enjoyed the program — it was a yearlong program — and one of the things it did for you was to give you the opportunity to earn some credits toward either your master’s degree or your doctorate.
(Gentile went on to earn her doctorate in educational leadership and higher education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where her dissertation was about the role of the presidency in community colleges.)
How did you come to apply for the North Shore Community College job?
There was a presidency in New Jersey at a community college that I admired and had actually been part of my dissertation, and so I applied for that. And that’s how I got to know the headhunter (for North Shore Community College). I was a finalist for that search, but another sitting president from Texas got that job. ... Then, the search consultant was hired here at North Shore to do the president’s search. She called me up and said, “I think I’ve got an opportunity I hope you consider.”