Founding of the NLCA


The National Learning Communities Association began as the Learning Communities Association (LCA) and was founded on November 13, 2015, in Kansas City, MO at a summit meeting held during the National Learning Communities Conference. This is the story behind the founding of the (N)LCA.


Learning communities have a long history in higher education with well documented benefits for students and faculty. The Washington Center at the Evergreen State College, the National Learning Communities Conference, state Consortia in California, Illinois, Washington, Texas and regional consortia representing the Atlantic Center for Learning Communities, South Atlantic Learning Communities Consortium, and the Great Plains Learning Community Consortium are among the organizations that have worked to advance learning communities.


However, there was not a national organization for learning communities. During conversations at various conferences and meetings this was brought up. In particular, it was noted there was not an organization for individuals to get involved in advancing learning communities unless they were in a state or region with a consortium. Additionally, not all those working in learning communities have the resources to attend the National Learning Communities Conference. Based on these concerns, a Summit of learning communities representatives from the National Learning Communities Conference, Washington Center, state consortia in California, Illinois, Washington, Texas, and regional consortia representing the, Atlantic Center for Learning Communities, South Atlantic Learning Communities Consortium, and the Great Plains Learning Community Consortium agreed to participate in a Summit Meeting on November 13, 2015 during the National Learning Communities Conference in Kansas City, MO.


At the summit the issue of forming some type of national association was discussed. The participants were unanimous that learning communities had arrived at a point where a national association was needed. It was noted that the association was not intended to replace any of the existing learning communities organizations. Rather, the goal was to bring unity and expand participation opportunities. The attendees, now known as the Founders, agreed on the name, Learning Communities Association (LCA), and that they would spend the next year working to develop the LCA.


Over the next year the Founders, working as a Provisional LCA Council, created 3 task forces to work on 1) governance, 2) Mission/Purpose, and 3) Communications. The governance structure and mission found on the webpage were developed by the task forces. The communication task force facilitated the work and investigated how best the LCA would address future communication issues.


The work was completed and then a nominations committee was formed to solicit nominations for the new LCA Council. The call for nominations was distributed on the Washington Center’s listserv and the committee put forth a slate of nominees. The Provisional Council met on November 11, 2016 at National Learning Communities Conference in Atlanta, GA to accept the nomination committee slate and complete business. On November 12, 2016, the LCA was formally introduced at a presentation for the attendees of the Learning Communities Conference, along with the founding Officers and Council.


The LCA Council then spent the time from November 2016 to March 2017 working to establish the LCA administration, including a system for joining and launching a website. Over the past several years, the Council has added webinars and social hours, as well as a professional mentorship program and Outstanding Learning Community Advocate Award. Most recently, the members voted to add "National" to the title and take on a formal role in the planning of the National Learning Communities Conference.


11/13/2015 Summit Invitees:

Carlos Huerta (facilitator), Cathy Bradford

Ana Torres-Bower, Elva Salinas

James Allen, Sarena Lee-Schott, Steven Day

Karen Weathermon

Emily Lardner

Jennifer Stephens, Laura Pipe

Rita Sperry

Erin Small

Pat Tooker


James Allen

Karen Weathermon


President: Carlos Huerta

President-Elect: Janine Graziano

Secretary/Treasurer: Rita Sperry

At-Large Council

Laura Pipe

David Finley

Richie Gebauer

Pam Person

Jennifer Leptien

Angela Rassmussen

Marissa Schlesinger


Washington Center:

Regional/State Consortia Commission:

National Learning Communities Conference:

Honorary Past President: