Alumna and respected education leader becomes CNC president and CEO

    • All Campuses
  • November 17, 2023
Cindy experiences feather brushing ceremony from Elder Darlene McIntosh

Cindy Heitman has officially become the president and CEO of the College of New Caledonia at the latest public meeting of CNC’s board of governors.

Ms. Heitman is the first woman to be appointed the permanent president of CNC. She brings to the College her experiences as a CNC university studies student, an educational leader with a career spanning three decades, and a dedicated community member on the traditional and unceded territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. 

“Cindy brings such a special combination of experiences, education, community support, and passion to CNC and particularly the students we serve,"  said Shobha Sharma, chair of CNC’s board. "We look forward to her leading wonderful opportunities in support of CNC’s vision of learning together, changing lives, and creating futures.”

“I have been very excited about joining CNC and appreciated working with Dr. Dennis Johnson in the leadership transition at the College," said Ms. Heitman. 

"CNC has been part of my life and the lives of my family members for decades. I’ve watched the College grow while maintaining its commitments to student success and achievement," continued Ms. Heitman. "I hope to work closely with the College community and many partners to inspire success in every student who chooses CNC, and support the diverse learning needs of the region we serve.” 

CNC began a president search earlier this year after Dr. Dennis Johnson announced his intention to retire as president and CEO. Through the search process, Ms. Heitman established herself as the candidate best suited to the profile in the College’s president search. The priorities of the search included: 

  • Advancing CNC’s priorities in the lhulh whuts’odutel’eh | Learning Together strategic plan including learning across a lifetime, student success focused education and training, organizational strength and agility, and community engagement and partnerships; 

  • Expanding on CNC’s commitment to truth and reconciliation with a focus on Indigenizing the college and inspiring the next generation of Indigenous leaders; and 

  • Building partnerships and potential across the region served by CNC, which includes campuses in Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Mackenzie, Prince George, Quesnel and Vanderhoof. 



Ms. Heitman is a resident of Prince George. She holds a Master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Simon Fraser University as well as a Bachelor of general studies in education with a minor in learning disabilities. 

Ms. Heitman’s career experience includes eight years as a school-based educator, 15 years as a school and district leader, and five years as a senior leader. She was most recently School District 57’s superintendent. She is committed to the North and is passionate about education. Ms. Heitman has fostered partnerships and connections in communities. She has held positions on a variety of boards and committees at the executive level locally and provincially. 

At the board meeting, board chair Shobha Sharma and Ms. Heitman led the College’s thanks to outgoing president and CEO Dr. Dennis Johnson for his four years of service at CNC. Dr. Johnson has retired after a lengthy career in post-secondary education across three provinces and several institutions, culminating in his service as president of CNC. 

“Dr. Johnson helped to establish CNC’s current five-year strategic plan and its student-centered vision,” said Ms. Sharma. “He also led the College through the pandemic while providing leadership on key institutional pillars. These included strategic enrolment management as well as the development of new academic, Indigenous education, and international education plans. He also served on several boards provincially and nationally."

Ms. Sharma continued, "Dr. Johnson leaves CNC in a greatly strengthened position to support student success and for the College to thrive in the years to come."  

“The past four years have been exciting as CNC embarked on new initiatives to improve student achievement and bring new approaches and practices to the College," said Dr. Johnson. "I’m grateful for this opportunity to have led the College and confident that Cindy, CNC’s leadership team, and the entire College community will make great things happen for students in the years to come."

Dennis experiences feather brushing ceremony

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Christine Midgley, Content and Media Relations Officer

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