Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has named the first six members of the new Board of Regents that will govern the state’s community colleges, online university and the Connecticut State University System.

“This is a new chapter in higher education in the state of Connecticut, one that streamlines administration and focuses more attention on student achievement and learning,” Malloy said in a statement announcing six of the members on the 15-member board.

Malloy has two appointments left to make and the remainder of the spots will be made by other top elected officials.

The new board includes:

CHAIRMAN – Lewis J. Robinson, Jr. (Hartford) is an attorney with a background in business, law and government affairs, as well as charitable organizations.  Since his retirement as General Counsel of Travelers Property Casualty (Personal Lines), he has served in a volunteer capacity with a variety of non-profit organizations.  Most recently, Mr. Robinson was Chairman of the Board of The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and a board member of the Capital Community College Foundation.  Before joining Travelers, Mr. Robinson was the law clerk to Justice Louis Shapiro of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, and also served as an officer in the United States Army.  He is a graduate of Rutgers Law School, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Howard University.

Merle W. Harris (West Hartford) has 45 years of educational experience, serving in several positions at institutions of higher education, high schools, grade schools and the State Department of Education. She most recently served as an adjunct professor in undergraduate and graduate programs in public policy and higher education policy, law and foundations at Charter Oak State College and the University of Hartford.  Ms. Harris also works as a consultant in planning, policy development and accreditation in education and higher education.  Previously, she served as Executive Director of the Board for State Academic Awards and President of Charter Oak State College, and as Interim President of Central Connecticut State University.  Ms. Harris served in various roles at the Connecticut Department of Higher Education, including as Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner.

Gary Holloway (New Canaan) is a founder of Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, an alternative investment and asset management company.  Prior to his time at Five Mile, he spent 15 years at Greenwich Capital Markets/Greenwich NatWest Securities, retiring in 2001 as Chairman of Greenwich Capital.  Mr. Holloway is currently a board member of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT; Kenyon College, Gambier, OH; and Curry School of Education Foundation, Charlottesville, VA.  He was also an investor and a board member of Wireless Generation, and is currently an investor and Chairman of the Board of CaseNEX-Datacation LLC.  Mr. Holloway holds a masters of business administration degree from the Colgate Darden School of the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University.

René Lerer (Avon) is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Magellan Health Services.  With more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare field, Dr. Lerer was co-founder and president of Internet HealthCare Group, a healthcare technology venture fund, and also served as Chief Operating Officer of Prudential Healthcare and as President of the Travelers Health Network.  An active member of the community, Dr. Lerer has served as the corporate executive sponsor for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and as the corporate walk chair for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  He holds a doctor of medicine degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from Oberlin College.

Yvette Meléndez (South Glastonbury) is Vice President of Government and Community Alliances for Hartford Healthcare and Hartford Hospital.  She has over 30 years of experience developing public policy in education, human services, and public health at the state level.  Prior to her current position, Ms. Meléndez served in the roles of Chief of Staff and Chief Administrative Officer for the Connecticut State University System.  Her experience also includes roles at the State Department of Education, where she led Connecticut’s entry into the charter school movement; as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and Addiction Services (now the Department of Public Health); and as Chief of Staff for the Department of Income Maintenance (now the Department of Social Services), where she was part of the state’s initial efforts to desegregate Connecticut schools.  Ms. Meléndez holds a master’s degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

Zac Zeitlin (Westport) is a former partner of Silver Point Capital, where he ran the firm’s Principal Finance business.  He previously worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and TPG Capital.  Since retiring from Silver Point last year, Mr. Zeitlin has advised, invested in, or served as a board member of several education-focused companies and non-profits, including Domus, a Stamford-based charter school and community outreach organization, and QuestBridge, a college recruitment platform for high-achieving, low-income students. He received a bachelor of business administration and bachelor of arts from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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