Ava L. Parker is the president of Palm Beach State College, Palm Beach County’s largest higher education institution. She applies a strategic approach that emphasizes innovation, student success, and business and community collaboration. Parker is the first female president in the history of the institution, which opened in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college. Under Parker’s leadership, the college is taking proactive transformative measures to meet the evolving needs of the community. The college recently added two new bachelor’s degree programs and established a cross-cultural equity institute with a vision to lead institutions worldwide in research, development, and implementation of culturally relevant practices to support successful outcomes for all students.
Not only is Parker a member of the governing board for the American Association of Community Colleges, but her leadership also extends beyond higher education. She serves on the board of directors of Orchid Island Capital as well as the Board of Professional Holding Corp. Additionally, she is a member of the Florida Council of 100, the Women’s International Leadership Forum, and several other local organizations.
Before joining Palm Beach State, Parker was executive vice president and chief operating officer at Florida Polytechnic University and served for more than a decade on the Florida Board of Governors of the State University System, the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees and general counsel at Edward Waters College.
Most recently, Parker was recognized as one of Florida’s most influential business leaders in Florida Trend’s 2020 Florida 500 issue. Palm Beach Illustrated has named her a returning member of the Palm Beach Top 100—a list of influential community and business leaders in Palm Beach County. Parker is a native of Santa Rosa County in northwest Florida and earned her BA and JD degrees from the University of Florida.