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The Colin Powell School Welcomes New Board and Committee Members

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

The Colin Powell School Welcomes New Board and Committee Members

Nearly two years ago, the Colin Powell School established a central piece of its infrastructure to ensure its strength in the long-term— our Board of Visitors. Along with the recent addition of finance and development sub-committees, designed to help manage our resources and identify new sources of support, these distinguished advisers provide valuable guidance as they work closely with Dean Vincent Boudreau and the Office of Institutional Advancement. Together, this team serves to promote and further the ambitions of the Colin Powell School—to be a challenging, nurturing center of higher learning for our students, and to be a convener and influencer of public intellectual thought. 

At our May 28th Board of Visitors meeting, immediately before our third commencement ceremony, we welcomed two new members onto the board, General Samuel E. Ebbesen, USA (Ret.) and Tom Blair, and another new member, Kathy Kearns, onto our development committee. Each bring decades of commitment to public education and a desire to help us identify and address the many complexities of building a school while state universities all around the country face new financial challenges and declining enrollment. 

What makes a good board and committee member? The criteria are simple—but an appropriate candidate is a rare and precious find. They must, first and foremost, demonstrate an enthusiasm for our mission, and a willingness to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand in our work. Some are CCNY graduates; others have long associations with General Powell, many simply see what the Colin Powell School can be, and want to be part of it. Our mission excites them. With us, they regard the Colin Powell School as a public trust, and have agreed to steward it through these exciting, founding years and into a stable future. And, to a person, they recognize the great potential that our students embody, appreciate the great contributions CCNY has made to this city and to the world—and know that by working together, we can uplift that legacy, and take it to new and exciting places. 

For all of these reasons, when new people join our board, or agree to serve on our committees, it is cause for celebration. Please join us in welcoming them to the Colin Powell School family.


General Samuel E. Ebbesen, USA (Ret.) has had a distinguished career in the military, business, and community and public service. Next to General Powell—with whom he attended CCNY in the 1950s, General Ebbesen is the next highest ranking army officer to have graduated from CCNY. As Executive Chairman, Ebbesen recently led the EduK Group, an organization of post-secondary education institutions focused on the Latin American community. General Ebbesen retired from the United States Army as three stars general in January 1997. During his tenure, he held a variety of key command and staff positions including service as Deputy Chief Legislative Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Army and commanded at all levels including Brigade, Division and an Army. A native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Ebbesen received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the City College of New York, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Auburn University and attended the program for senior managers in government at Harvard University. He is married to Lillian Yordan whom he met and married while both were attending CCNY.

Tom Blair was born in England during World War II. His father, an American serviceman married to a young British girl, was killed during the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Raised in America, Blair’s interests now focus on business, economics, aviation, and American history. In the business arena, Blair founded four extremely successful healthcare companies, the most recent of which (with revenues of over $5 billion) was included in Fortune magazine’s list of 100 fastest growing publicly traded companies for three consecutive years. Blair has served on a number of Boards of publicly traded companies, as well as the Boards of numerous non-profit entities, including the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and the National Air and Space Museum. In 2011, he authored the New York Times Best Seller, Poorer Richard’s America, which applied Ben Franklin’s wisdom and writings on today’s America. Those who enjoyed that book can look out for his next book, soon to be released. Blair appears on CNN as a contributing panel commentator and supports numbers of charitable initiatives. Blair collects and flies WWII British, American and German aircraft and maintains one of the largest private collections of British fighters. He has three children, 17 grandchildren, and has been married to his wife Alice for 47 years.

Both men—Samuel Ebbesen and Tom Blair, have paid close attention to the work and growth of the Colin Powell School, and bring infectious enthusiasm and energy to our board. General Powell introduced each man to the board at our last meeting, describing, for each, a warm relationship and set of strong personal accomplishments. We all look forward to working with both new board members in the year to come.   

We are just as excited to welcome Kathy Kearns to our development committee.A true star in the world of NY philanthropy, Kearns leads the fundraising, public relations and marketing efforts that support the innovative work of the New York Genome Center. Kearns’s interest in health care and life sciences was sparked in college during a junior year internship in the external affairs office of Boston University Medical Center. With over 25 years of experience in New York in development, marketing and communications, Kearns served most recently as Senior Vice President of Development and External Affairs for the Continuum Health Partners hospitals through their merger with Mount Sinai. She has held a number of progressively responsible positions during her 17-year tenure with the system. Previously, she was the Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for the Hospital for Special Surgery. Active in a number of civic and professional organizations, Kearns served as Chairman of the New York City Workforce Investment Board from 2010 to 2014 and also has been President of the Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society of Greater New York. She has an MBA from the Lubin School of Business of Pace University, earned her undergraduate degree at Boston University’s College of Communication and currently serves as Chair of the College’s Annual Fund.

We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Kearns, Mr. Blair, and General Ebbesen’s expertise and dedication. We are certain to benefit from their wisdom and energy; we are already deriving deep satisfaction from the knowledge that we have attracted such a stellar collective of leaders to helping us build the future of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.

Photos by Sirin Samman Photography.