New CCA leader looks good on paper

Breaking news out of Washington yesterday: The Career College Association (CCA) selected Harris Miller as its new CEO effective this month. In press release terminology, that means Miller will be starting later than opposed to sooner, but the date of his first day in office is hardly an indicator of his passion. In fact, the sector might have to wait several months to see how Miller’s appointment will matter.

As with any new leader taking the helm of an organization, there are a number of internal issues he’ll need to sort out and a vision that has to be cast first. Part of that vision will be a greater presence on Capitol Hill and healing previously wounded relationships with various state associations. Those have been two long-running knocks against CCA in the past. Once those issues are addressed, it’s possible Miller could be the right choice for the job based simply on a cursory look at his resume.

Miller made headlines last fall after losing the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Virginia to James Webb. The newcomer went on to ride the national Democratic tide to victory against first-term Republican Senator George Allen. During the Senate campaign, there were some strong words thrown out by both sides, but this quote from one of Miller’s opponents was especially biting. Michael W. Gildea, who is the National Executive Director of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, said ” … Miller is truly one of the bad guys. Over and over again on core issues like trade, immigration, overtime protections and privatization of federal jobs, he’s not only been on the wrong side, he’s been galvanizing corporate efforts against us.”

Truly a “bad guy?” A guy who can raise that kind of emotion in people might be the biggest indicator that CCA has acted boldly, possibly stepping out into areas where it will make the most impact for schools.

Miller served as President of the Information Technology Association of America, the leading trade association representing the IT industry. CCA’s press release references him serving during a “dynamic period of change.” The release also states he regularly appeared on radio, television and in numerous publications as a spokesperson for “key industry issues.”

Interpretation: Big changes are afoot at CCA. No surprises there. Miller is going to be a far more public face than CCA’s previous administration and that face will be made on Capitol Hill. Get used to seeing Miller. He’s public. He’s vocal. On paper (and in the press), he looks like the shot in the arm CCA’s been searching for.

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