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.”