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Dr. Deana L. Porterfield

President, Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary

Years in current role: 7.5

What was your biggest success in 2021?

Moving forward despite the uncertainty of the pandemic seems to me to be an accomplishment worth remembering. The work of Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary is critical to the success and future of our region and beyond. We graduate women and men who know how to connect their head to their heart, and engage their hands in service to others. This past year we remained focused on providing Christ-centered education that would prepare students to serve our world, and to be able to continue that work despite constant disruption is a credit to our team.

What are your expectations for 2022?

I deeply believe that we are created for community but we have all lost some of that in the past two years. The pandemic left a residue on our work and personal lives that feels like a weight — like a residue. My hope and expectation is that I will personally work to rebuild what is lost by reaching out to others, creating space for conversation and being open to listen to others. At Roberts we believe that intellectual and spiritual humility provides an effective path for rebuilding communities. This present time is an opportunity to test and apply solutions that, with an attitude of humility, will move us forward. I challenge myself and my colleagues to be part of that positive restoration and lead the way in creating a community that is vibrant, innovative and collaborative.

What is your biggest takeaway from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Leadership is about judgment calls. It is rare that you have all the information needed to make a decision, but the pandemic showed that difficult decisions are required of us even when times and outcomes are uncertain. I relied on a wonderful team of individuals who did the hard work of researching all the available information, met regularly to discuss the pros and cons of possible options, and then made the best decision possible for the moment. As information changed we revisited decisions and adjusted when needed. I am so grateful for that team.

What is your favorite thing about the Rochester community?

When I arrived in Rochester eight years ago my husband and I made a commitment to visit one historical site every weekend for the first year. We learned quickly about the innovative spirit and rich history of Rochester. This innovative spirit is in the fabric of our community and continues today with the launching of new businesses, products and services that serve our area and the world. We are a community that continues to push forward, looking for new ways to support our economy and people. Our rich history provides an opportunity to better understand the cultural challenges of today and demonstrates the difference individual lives can make in advancing our community.

If time were no issue, what would you do to help the community that you aren’t already doing?

If time were not a constraint I would volunteer additional time to serve alongside the churches within our community. The number of programs and opportunities that make a difference in the local community are modeled in the local church through mentorship, service and educational programs.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 100 list for 2022. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at


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