Cheryl Richards, CEO and regional dean of North­eastern University’s Char­lotte grad­uate campus, on Friday was named Woman of The Year at an annual event that spot­lights the most influ­en­tial women in busi­ness, gov­ern­ment, edu­ca­tion, and the non­profit fields in the greater Char­lotte area.

This honor is part of the Meck­len­burg Times’ 50 Most Influ­en­tial Women event, which cel­e­brated its sixth class this year. This was the second time Richards was named among the most influ­en­tial women; she also received the honor in 2010.

It is incred­ibly hum­bling,” Richards said. “The com­pany of women who were rec­og­nized this year was truly remark­able, and it came it as a tremen­dous shock.”

The hon­orees are nom­i­nated and then selected by a panel based on pro­fes­sional accom­plish­ment and com­mu­nity involve­ment within the Char­lotte area. The Woman of the Year is selected from the 2014 class of honorees.

We are very proud of Cheryl and the impact of North­eastern University-​​Charlotte on the broader com­mu­nity,” said Philomena Man­tella, senior vice pres­i­dent of enroll­ment man­age­ment and stu­dent life. “She has played a key lead­er­ship role in building edu­ca­tional part­ner­ships to ben­efit indi­vidual and cor­po­rate cit­i­zens in the south­east region.”

Richards has led North­eastern University-​​Charlotte, the university’s first regional campus, since it opened in 2011. Northeastern-​​Charlotte now offers 18 grad­uate degree pro­grams and 10 grad­uate cer­tifi­cates, and it will launch addi­tional ALIGN pro­grams this fall. Most pro­grams are based on a “hybrid delivery” model that inte­grates online and class­room learning. The hybrid learning approach is ideal for working pro­fes­sionals because it com­bines the tra­di­tional ben­e­fits of face-​​​​to-​​​​face instruc­tion with the flex­i­bility of online learning.

Since opening, the Char­lotte campus has estab­lished strong co-​​op part­ner­ships and expanded expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents, and it has part­nered with local gov­ern­ment and plan­ning agen­cies to develop the greater Charlotte’s region’s urban plan­ning design. The campus has also launched a North Car­olina alumni chapter and has seen deep­ened alumni engage­ment through campus events and networking.

During her 24-​​year career in higher edu­ca­tion, she pre­vi­ously served as dean of the Cato Campus and aca­d­emic dean of the pro­fes­sional careers divi­sion at Cen­tral Pied­mont Com­mu­nity Col­lege. She has also held lead­er­ship roles at Regis Uni­ver­sity, the Uni­ver­sity of Denver, and Col­orado State University.

Richards is a rec­og­nized leader in the Char­lotte com­mu­nity. She served two terms on the Char­lotte Chamber of Commerce’s exec­u­tive com­mittee and three years as chair of the edu­ca­tion and work­force devel­op­ment com­mittee. She is past-​​president of Women Exec­u­tives and remains on that board along with boards of MeckEd, Smart Start of Meck­len­burg County and Apparo. Nation­ally, she serves on the Chair Academy’s World­wide Lead­er­ship Training Inter­na­tional Prac­ti­tioners and Pres­i­dents’ Board.

When she moved to Char­lotte 10 years ago, Richards said one of the first pieces of advice she received was to vol­un­teer often and give back to the com­mu­nity. “It is part of the cul­ture of Char­lotte to be involved,” Richards said. “The com­mu­nity is really built on vol­un­teer leadership.”