Bill Gates Keynotes 2013 ACCT Leadership Congress

October 3, 2013 - SEATTLE- Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates opened the 2013 ACCT Leadership Congress last night by lauding the work community college trustees do while urging them to "think about innovation and where it fits in with your goal to create great community colleges." 

Bill Gates Keynotes 2013 ACCT Leadership CongressGates, now co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, touted the potential of technology to improve student support systems, targeted instruction, and other administrative services. "The innovation opportunity at the community college level is starting to change," he told a standing-room only crowd at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle Wednesday evening.  "By getting ahead of that, it gives you time to shape it for the exact student body you've got and the needs they have."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports a number of ACCT initiatives, including the Governance Institutes for Student Success and the Symposium on Completion, which was held immediately preceding the Congress. "The work you do is very important, and the Foundation is committed to doing this work with you and taking community colleges to an even higher level," Gates said, adding that "the bulk of lifting people up is happening at the institutions you represent."

After Gates's keynote address, ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown facilitated a Q&A segment featuring questions submitted by community college trustees and presidents throughout the United States.  Video of the session will be made available on following the 44th Annual ACCT Leadership Congress.

Nearly 2,000 community college trustees, presidents, and other leaders and advocates are attending what is the largest ACCT Congress of the decade.  With the theme "Society Demands, Community Colleges Deliver: Moving the Needle," Congress sessions will focus on strategic alliances with business and industry, partnerships with K-12, student success and completion, fundraising, serving at-risk and underserved populations, and effective board governance.

Earlier Wednesday evening, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee welcomed Congress attendees. Inslee credited much of Washington's reputation for innovation to the state's community and technical colleges. "Two-year colleges across America are responding to this new economy," Inslee said. "You're providing what we need, which is a real education that responds to the real workforce needs of the real economy... There is no better bang for the taxpayers' buck than community and technical colleges in the U.S. When there's a need in your community, you're there and the cost-effective way to do it."

The ACCT Congress continues today with a keynote address by Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation. 

ACCT Congress attendees will be tweeting throughout the week, using #ACCT2013 to designate event-related messages.  Follow ACCT on Twitter @CCTrustees.  For more information about the ACCT Congress, contact



Founded in 1972, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is the nonprofit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees of community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond. ACCT's purpose is to strengthen the capacity of community, technical, and junior colleges and to foster the realization of their missions through effective board leadership at local, state, and national levels. For more information, visit Follow ACCT on Twitter at