Q&A with Lee D. Lambert, Chancellor, Pima Community College

Q: Where were you born?

Seoul, South Korea

Q: How did you become interested in your career field?

To provide a little context, my father retired from the U.S. Army. During the mid-’70s, he was stationed in South Korea, and we returned to my birthplace. It was during this time that I better understood the impact of poverty, inadequate infrastructure (e.g., plumbing, heating and cooling systems) and limited access to the basics of life, so I started to form an identity and commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others. This guiding purpose led me to focus on careers of services to others. After serving in the army, working for the state of Washington and King County, I ultimately landed a position in higher education. I started in the four-year higher ed system before getting hired into the community college system. It’s now been 20 years and counting that I’ve worked in community colleges.

Q: What is the biggest challenge of your job?

Most people are resistant to change. It’s extremely difficult to convince people to shift their mindsets even in the face of a changing reality. Leading people to embrace the winds of change makes the work more challenging and more rewarding.

Q: What is the greatest reward of your job?

I love handing out diplomas to graduates who have successfully taken a step closer to realizing their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and goals.

Q: Where would you most like to vacation next — and why?

I grew up on three continents. My upbringing has led to an interest in meeting people and visiting places all over the globe. I have been fortunate to experience some of the most amazing people and places across the planet. To date, I have visited six of the seven continents. It is my dream to visit Antarctica. This is a place like no other. It is nearly uninhabited, isolated, and teeming with incredible wildlife that draw my attention.

Q: What’s your favorite food indulgence?

Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

Q: In 20 words or less, describe your perfect day.

My perfect day is summed up in the song by Otis Redding, “Sittin’ On the Dock of The Bay.”

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